Barcelona: Urban Transformation and 92’ Olympic Games
Many studies have concentrated on the impact of Mega-Events. This short paper focuses on the city of Barcelona and the Olympic Games of 1992 that were hosted there.
The purpose of this paper is to serve as a pre-tour background research. To focus on the subject, the author starts from the impacts of mega-events and links it to the Olympics as the most attention-drawing occasion. The following part of the paper introduces the history of Olympic Games and how its requirement of venue constructions developed over the years and its effects on the hosting cities. Out of the past several hosting cities, our destination - Barcelona is a successful example in creating its lasting Olympic Legacy, so the second half of the paper dedicates to this city: from its history of city transformation to the Olympic Games 1992. The process and details of its modern transformation which was set off by the Game 1992 were specially elaborated.
Organizing mega-events has becoming a trend in cities to promote themselves. However, this “happening” business is not for everyone: as we have seen, the requirements of facilities are moving to the luxury scale, and if not planned carefully, white elephants can be left after and that will also impose unwanted financial burden on the city. The Barcelona story tells that mega events such as Olympic Games do not necessarily have an immediate positive impact on the economy, and the motivation of cities competing for hosting does not depend on the one – time profit it could possibly gain. Nevertheless, by planning constructions of venue and upgrading infrastructures strategically, the hosting city could create a legendary effect in terms of improved city image and suburban renewal. In the case of Barcelona, the city launched deliberately several projects in the call of Olympic and we are expected to see that they all revive till nowadays: its seafront is the most hit place to spend time for the young generation; its ring road still serves as the major traffic lane around the city, and the sports facilities on the Montjuic hill are constantly occupied by locals.
In the larger region of the city, a few Olympic projects may not make a visual difference, but they create continuation of urban regeneration. As the host of The Forum 2004, Barcelona once again created an urban legend by building up the new complex on the seafront between Barcelona and Sant Andrià de Besoarea. It is evident that urban design and planning are now used in a more systematic way to sell the city. The city of Barcelona has gone through a process of changing its image from a dull industrial city to a dynamic meeting place for business and leisure. By positioning itself as an international cultural and business meeting point, Barcelona is competing with someworld-class cities such as London, New York, and Paris.
The yardstick to measure one city’s success is through demographic change: whether the city attracts more inhabitants to move in and make good livings or whether the city draws more visitors as a destination.
Urban regeneration and transformation is a never-ending challenge: there are still many postindustrial wasteland in the city needed to be renewed and brought to life by city planners and private investors. As long as Barceloners have the ambition to do so, the city will be on the map of “international cities” in the near future.
University of Lugano
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