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Looking at Barcelona through Jane Jacobs’s eyes: Mapping the basic conditions for urban vitality in a Mediterranean conurbation

Delclòs-Alió, Xavier, Miralles-Guasch, Carme
Land use policy 2018 v.75 pp. 505-517
cities, eyes, urban areas, Spain
Jane Jacobs’ quest for urban vitality has had an indisputable influence for urban researchers and planners especially in the Anglo-American context, yet her theories have reached smaller audiences in other parts of the world. This is especially the case in the Mediterranean context, in which her principles for urban vitality would very well correspond to the traditional attributes of these urban settlements, even though their inherent vital nature has been progressively challenged under the paradigm of modernity. In order to contribute with the efforts conducted in the past few years aimed at empirically testing Jacobs’ ideas, we consider of special interest to question the nature of these new urban configurations by analyzing Barcelona (Spain) through Jacobs’s eyes. An analysis of urban vitality throughout a systemized approach has allowed a detailed spatial interpretation of a conurbation that combines both the attributes of traditional Mediterranean cities and the conflicts that modernity brought with it. The approach that Jacobs provided has proven useful to highlight that this urban area is far from homogeneous, and therefore is also presented as a useful framework for other researchers and urban practitioners to study urban vitality in different geographic contexts, especially in those areas where the logics of modern city building may still persevere.