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'The sea was cut off from people; now Barcelona has the largest beaches in the Mediterranean'

Catalan News brings back its interview with late Oriol Bohigas in 2017, 25 years on from 1992 Olympics

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01 December 2021 11:04 AM

by

Guifré Jordan | Barcelona

The Catalan architect Oriol Bohigas passed away on Tuesday, after a long and successful life in modernizing Barcelona, with his legacy including opening the city up to the sea with the regeneration of its beaches, the Vila Olímpica (Olympic Village), and the Port Olímpic (Olympic Port).

In 2017, in order to mark the 25th anniversary of the Olympics, Catalan News made a report on the event's legacy in the city and its impact two and a half decades later.

Interviews included Oriol Bohigas, who expressed no hesitation when asked about the most important transformation: the beaches.

"The sea was cut off from the people; Barcelona had no beaches and nowadays it is the city with the biggest and best-looked after beaches in the Mediterranean," he proudly said at that time.

Bohigas recalled that the neighborhoods along the coast, especially in the northern part of the capital, "were a disaster, they had no drainage and all the dirt from citizens ended up in the sea."

  • "Now you can access all beaches in Barcelona on foot, by underground, by bicycle or by car, it is a major change in the inhabitable space"

    Oriol Bohigas · Architect 

Unlike before 1992, "now you can access all beaches in Barcelona on foot, by underground, by bicycle or by car", which, for him, "it is a major change in the inhabitable space."

In fact, he explained with a grin that the event organizers told him to stop "cleaning up the streets" for fear of running out of time and money to build the stadiums.

Yet, the man responsible for urban planning in the local council in the 1980s expressed no complaints about any of the administrations involved in the transformation, including local, Catalan and Spanish governments. 

Facing criticism from a major loss of industrial heritage in the Poble Nou district in order to open the city up to the sea and create the Olympic Village, Bohigas did not deny a loss. Yet, he said that "thanks to those who protested," the demolition of more elements of historic interest was avoided.

Check out here the full report published by Catalan News on July 21, 2017, a quarter of a century after the games.

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  • Barcelona's Nova Icària beach, on May 6, 2021 (by Blanca Blay)

  • Barcelona's Nova Icària beach, on May 6, 2021 (by Blanca Blay)

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