‘The truth is that we have a very closed territory that we must steer towards the future'

The general urban plan is 47 years old. It has become obsolete and is no longer suitable for facing future challenges. However, the Law of the Barcelona Metropolitan Area establishes its competence to draw up the general plan.

Before the challenges can be tackled by the Metropolitan Urban Master Plan (PDU), it is first necessary to update the model of the city, even though the main challenge is to find a way to grow without occupying more territory (48 % of the territory is occupied and the rest is natural space that is protected in practically its entirety; therefore, the options for new growth are limited). Another related challenge is to increase the dimension of the central piece and ensure urban quality goes beyond the ring roads without reducing the functionality of mobility infrastructures. A third challenge is to extend the axes of the public transport that facilitate the functioning of the metropolitan city as a whole. Challenge number four addresses the spaces of economic activity where knowledge is developed. Number five is green infrastructure and bringing natural spaces to the doorstep with the slogan ‘Ecology, Leisure and Production'. Lastly, we address the territory's resilience: we must consider how to maintain a central space for economy and citizens' leisure, which can also be considered the metropolitan area's own ecosystem.

The PDU is complex, as it affects 36 municipalities. Each municipality's uniqueness is approached with a process designed to bring closer, develop and resolve the territory's complexities. A paradigm shift in the plan's management is studied and requires a rapid response, as the situation is highly dynamic and the circumstances change quickly.

In order to define the Urban Master Plan, action has been taken in three stages: the first stage consisted in holding workshops with over 3,000 professionals, some of whom came from around the world, which told us where urban planning was going and resulted in some publications. These workshops ended with an open exhibition that was visited by over 30,000 people and it formed the basis of other exhibitions in different cities in the world (Boston, Shanghai, Toronto, Chicago, etc.). It is now presented in different metropolitan municipalities to open the participatory process for citizen debate and involvement. In a second stage the PDU team worked internally and organised roundtables to tackle specific issues with experts. The last stage consists in drawing up the Urban Master Plan, its processing, the initial approval and definitive approval.

The citizens have to say what kind of city they want in the future, based on real social and environmental circumstances. We open the debate to academic, social, economic and business entities, political associations and groups, bearing in mind the territory's particular features.