Cities that Come and Go

Within walking distance of Barcelona’s historic centre, there lies a small satellite town that comes and goes with regularity. It tends to spend weekends in the city, arriving Saturday mornings and then leaving again, to much fanfare and tooting horns, Sunday evenings. For some reason its motorized megastructures always seem to enter and leave en masse, like a flotilla, only to then go their separate ways until the next weekend, when they join up again to create something that resembles, morphologically if not socially, a city.

In fact, it is a flotilla, albeit, in theory at least, a flotilla that is supposed to bring peace and goodwill instead of war and destruction, which is what flotillas brought in the not-so-good old days. When this flotilla disembarks, entire fleets of taxis and motor coaches are there to welcome them, and to take the many thousand eagerly disembarking landlubbers into the city centre. Some –the most adventurous and the most physically fit– choose to walk to the centre, but for many this is is an undesirable option, since their time on land is limited. Many are also too overfed, overweight, and hungover to make the trek on foot.

The commuters from this satellite town enter the city centre not to work, but to shop, and if time permits, to briefly visit a monument or two. They are all armed with cameras, maps, and protective headwear, carrying thick wallets that make them prey to Barcelona’s notorious pickpockets. Despite this, and the fact that they are not very welcomed by those Barcelonins who do not drive a taxi or do not own a shop or a fast-food restaurant, they just keep coming and going, enjoying a city that is itself disappearing and going away, though in this case perhaps forever.

2014-09-14 13.48.41

About Rafael Gomez-Moriana

I am an architect, writer and educator. rafagomo.com chronicles my architectural making, writing, teaching and curating activity, while criticalista.com is an archive of my writings as well as a platform for venting personal rants and observations. I studied architecture at the University of Waterloo (Canada) and at the Berlage Institute (the Netherlands). I direct the University of Calgary’s architecture term-abroad program in Barcelona and teach at CIEE, and have previously taught in the Metropolis Masters Program in Architecture and Urban Culture as well as at Carleton University and the University of Manitoba.

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