Olympic legacies in Barcelona Spain

Urban redevelopment is a deeply historical and place specific phenomenon (Degen and Garcia, 2012). Ignorance and tendency to not spend enough time and money on planning means that politicians usually fail to understand that applying practises from one urban regeneration scheme to another, is bound to fail the city in one or more ways. In the case of Barcelona and the “Barcelona model”, Spain can be proud of having succeeded in creating and implementing one of the greatest urban regenerations of all times. In this blogpost we will look at how did the city develop in relation to the 1992 Olympic Games hosted in Barcelona.

The Barcelona redevelopment took place between 1979 and 2008 and is divided into three main periods. The time between 1986 and 1994 is the so called Olympic mega project period (Degen and Garcia, 2012). In the prospect of the 1992 Olympic Games and with the provision of necessary funding and resources, the city and province governors in collaboration with other institutions such as the International Olympic Committee, embarked on a journey of rejuvenating the city on both a physical and economic level. Aim of this urban transformation was to make the city more friendly to sports events but also a very attractive touristic destination. The mentality was to leave behind the greatest number of fully useful investments for after the Games.  What made it possible? The strong determination of the government to reach their goal, a very good organisational structure and a lot of money from both national and international sponsors (Brunet, 1995).

The major Olympic constructions were lead by famous architects and it included works such as opening up the sea front to the city, restoring the historical buildings in Gothic Quarters and on Montjuic Mountain and building the ring roads around the metropolitan area. According to Brunet (1995), the principal classes of Olympic projects were as follows, in order of importance:

  1. Road and transportation infrastructures.
    • Ring Road
  2. Housing, offices and commercial venues.
    • Olympic Village and Harbour in Parc de Mar
  3. Telecommunications and services.
    • Montjuic Telecommunications Tower
    • International Trade Centre
  4. Hotel facilities.
  5. Sports facilities.
    • Montjuic Stadium
    • Palau San Jordi gymnasium
  6. Environmental infrastructures.
    • New green zones and beaches went through an increase of 78%
    • Ponds and fountains, an increase of 268%

Despite the immediate flourishing of the city from this structural reformation, the impact of this regeneration has both positive and negative characteristics (Sivaev, 2013).

Positive: promotion of healthy lifestyle and sports, increased employment and labour productivity, increased tourism and inflow of investment, higher GDP.

Negative: gentrification and relocation of population, possibility of rapid inflation.

To conclude, Barcelona did truly gain a lot from hosting the 1992 Olympic Games. This is because of the very good organisation and management of the transformation of the city from the collaborating authorities and also the great investment that was provided both from the national and international community. The city succeeded in being redeveloped into a 21st century economic and cultural centre which is a magnet for tourists. Even on the whole the city has been benefited, parts of the lower social classes have been very pressured and forced to the margins of society.


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