Towards a more Fragmented, Pixelated and Ubiquitous Version of Landscape Urbanism: Forming New Compact Versions of 'the Dream of the Good Life'

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From the mid-00s onwards, numerous cities on a worldwide basis have launched urban strategies, which are basically rooted in the mantra of establishing creativity-based, innovation-based and knowledge-based urban developments and urban transformations. Typically, these urban strategies are accompanied by visualizations of inviting urban spaces literally wrapped in greenery. Besides being an indicator of sustainability, the greenery is also added in order to present environments framing ‘the dream of the good life’. The first challenge is to attract the highly mobile talented workforce. The second challenge is to make them tempted to stay.
What is interesting for the discussion on the Landscape Urbanism discourse, is that a number of these creativity-led transformation projects more or less consciously are utilising landscape urbanism logics and approaches in urban small-scale operations – even on block level. As a result, particular environments emerge with a very short distance between workshop spaces and leisure spaces, in the form of a spatial blend of existing and new building volumes, as well as the infiltration of small-scale landscaped surfaces.
The point of departure for the paper is the emerging 22@-project in the Poblenou district of Barcelona. The 22@-project was launched with the overall agenda to convert the decaying industrial area into a ‘knowledge hub’, which could attract talent and innovative businesses (see e.g. Broggi, 2007). The 22@-district has been exposed to a number of strategic actions and is in progress in the sense that many of the appointed 22@-blocks have not yet been completed or realized (project period: 1997-2020).
The paper argues that the Poblenou district, in its present version (anno 2016), provides a particularly interesting case. What is interesting here is that the integrated landscaped surfaces become more than a collection of pocket parks in the fragmented district, which builds on Ildefons Cerdà’s fundamental grid-structure with chamfered corners. The landscaped surfaces in many cases become the structural components in the complex spatial transformation projects that occur at city block level or inter-block level. In that sense, the landscaped surfaces, like the archetypical large-scale landscape urbanism projects, become infrastructural corridors or linking spaces facilitating different sorts of local flows and unpredictable social encounters.
The qualitative study presented in this paper demonstrates how the programming of the building mass is essential in order to activate the landscaped surfaces. This fabric provides a highly compact Mediterranean version of ‘the dream of the good life’ founded on the sunny hill-sides of L.A., including West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and Malibu, in the golden era of American capitalism. This paper argues that the 22@-district represents a highly potent example of Landscape Urbanism. However, a central point is that it is not just the landscape surfaces, which are ‘open-ended and negotiable’; this also accounts for a great deal of the building mass, consisting of workshops and garages. The building blocks and landscapes are re-programmable, but thematically coded in the sense that not all programmes are welcome, which in turn challenges the common discourse.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBeyond Ism : The Landscape of Landscape Urbanism
Number of pages2
Place of PublicationAlnarp
PublisherThe Swedish University of Agricultural Science
Publication date2016
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventBeyond ism: the landscape of landscape urbanism - The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SLU, Alnarp, Sweden
Duration: 19 Oct 201621 Oct 2016


ConferenceBeyond ism: the landscape of landscape urbanism
LocationThe Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SLU
Internet address


  • landscape urbanism
  • Barcelona
  • Poblenou
  • industrial areas
  • transformation

Artistic research

  • Yes


  • 1 Organisation and participation in conference

Beyond ism: the landscape of landscape urbanism

Jens Christian Pasgaard (Participant)

19 Oct 201621 Oct 2016

Activity: Participating in or organising an event Organisation and participation in conference

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