HEQDF-AUDE 2-Day Barcelona Study Tour

Date & Time: 16-17 May, 2019

The 16th of May 2019 saw the arrival of the joint HEDQF-AUDE annual, international tour group in Barcelona. Representatives from 11 UK universities and 14 architects, consultants and contractors visited four recent and award-winning higher education and research projects across the city centre over two days.

First was La Massana School of Fine Arts designed by Estudio Carme Pinós. The group was welcomed by Carme followed by Blanca González who led the tour and outlined its design concepts. The group were particularly impressed by the value for money and that the scheme extended into the square in front, the residential developments opposite and behind, and future links the the adjacent former school buildings.

The same afternoon, biomedical research leader Dr Reimund Fickhert presented a history of Barcelona’s seafront development from sewage-filled slums to an international life sciences research park alongside the new beach. The PRBB building was a model for the Francis Crick Institute in London. It was designed as an ellipse in plan to reduce apparent mass and with column-free floor plates hanging from a colossal roof structure over an underground basketball arena.

On Friday morning, design collaborators Antoni Vilanova, Josep Benedito, Ramon Valls and associates presented the regeneration of a derelict textile complex into a new audiovisual campus for UPF. This included a Nineteenth Century factory converted into a library and massive, high-tech teaching blocks clustered around the surviving chimney and new piazza.

Lastly, the group explored the Sant Pau Research Institute with its lead architect Jordi París of Pich-Arch. Jordi’s passion for delivering maximum sustainability, flexibility and joy was evident in the design of this relatively modest laboratory building on the edge of the former Sant Pau hospital (awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in 1997).

Our hosts, local representatives of the projects above and some students were invited to an evening of tapas and wine kindly sponsored by Overbury and Bennetts Associates.

The group took away from Barcelona:
• Some understanding of the politics and planning issues of Barcelona
• The nature of collaboration between small architecture studios on large projects
• The very low building costs when compared with the UK
• Solar control, sustainability and the importance of attracting talented building users as a design generators
• Universities and research institutes playing a key role in economic and urban regeneration

A follow-up event in Barcelona is being planned for October 2019 – please check for announcements.

Quotes from university delegates:

‘Four impressive projects; twenty lively and thoughtful companions; innumerable interesting conversations and brilliant photos; all possible due to one dedicated and inspired organiser and two generous sponsors.’

‘Another excellent trip, well organised with an interesting selection of projects showing what good design can achieve. Really nice opportunity to re-connect with like-minded people.’

‘Thanks for a great study visit, it was organised by Rod brilliantly and really showed what HEDQF is good at, getting professionals together to discuss design quality in the higher education sector.’

‘Thanks for great company and superb trip. Much to learn from.’

‘A fantastic trip to interesting buildings with great company.’

‘That was a thoroughly enjoyable couple of days.’

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