Pragmatic dilemmas in urban planning: the case of Plaça dels Àngels, Barcelona.

Authors: Antònia Casellas*, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Grant Saff*, Hofstra University
Topics: Urban and Regional Planning, Urban Geography
Keywords: Urban Planning, pragmatism, Barcelona
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Galerie 3, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Urban planning theory and practice has long been informed by debates regarding the efficacy and desirability of embracing pragmatism as a satisficing framework for “getting things done” (see Healey 2008, Lindblom 1959, Etzioni 1968). Using these debates within planning theory, together with the pioneering work of Dewey (1910) to frame our analysis, we have conducted empirical research on the political and urban planning principles that guided the design for an emblematic public square (Plaça dels Àngels) that is adjacent to the Museum of Modern Art (MACBA museum) in the historic downtown Barcelona neighborhood of El Raval. Particular attention is paid to the adaptations that local public policymakers have made since the 1990s to justify and reconcile their planned vision for the space to how the space is actually being used by different social groups. In the case of Plaça dels Àngels the square, contrary to the plan envisioned by policymakers and urban planners, has become a destination for skateboarders from around the globe who have appropriated much of the square for their own use. Policymakers have thus been confronted with the need to either enforce the guiding principles of their initial planning vision or to pragmatically alter policy to account for changing circumstances.

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