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BUILDING BRIDGES TO BARCELONA

19-06-2009

Barceloan University Students

Delegation from the University of Barcelona, visiting Birmingham

Architecture students from Birmingham normally head out to Barcelona at this time of year to check out some of the fine buildings in the Catalan capital, but this year, the traffic, was reversed. The Chair of the City’s Planning Committee Peter Douglas Osborn explains why they swapped Gaudi for gaudy.

For many years the students of Birmingham Institute of Art and Design – Architects and Urban Designers – have gone to Barcelona to see the fine work of the Architect Antoni Gaudi (1852 – 1926) who erected his best work in that city. It is a Mecca for Urban Designers as well; where the connectivity and scale of development has worldwide renown.

But this week 20 students from the University of Barcelona came to the United Kingdom to learn from us for a change. The group was lead by Professor Nuria Benach – an attractive Catalan. She said she was particularly interested in the regeneration of the Jewellery Quarter and the lessons we had learned there.

She was impressed with the explanations and work of Mr. Andy Munro, who gave a guided tour round the site. Urban Design staff from the City were also on hand to aid the group.

Later they went to the Bull Ring to see the major development there, and the £158M site of Salhia Investments renovation and new build, which will take place opposite Selfridges.

Tonight and tomorrow they are looking around Brindley Place and the Canal system as it is close to their hotel on Broad Street.

I am really pleased to be associated with this delegation as I see it as the first of many. I would like to see frequent trips between the two cities, and believe, as I said in my welcoming speech (in very simple Spanish) that we have learned from them well if they are coming to see how these lessons have been put into practice.

I also welcomed the relationship that we will foster between Barcelona and Birmingham, two cities that set examples to their larger capitals. After they generously thanked me I was able to respond with the greeting learned as a youngster when visiting their country – ¡Arriba España!”

Finally I hope that Birmingham City University and the University of Barcelona will develop such contacts that it will be natural, as my children have already done, to visit each other as a matter of course.

(Picture is the delegation of 20 from the University including three students from Chile (Santiago University) and one from California (UCLA Berkeley) on the 25th. Floor of Alpha Tower in the Boardroom where they were able to work this, and yesterday evening. Professors Tom Muir (BCU) and Nuria Benach (UoB) at the head)

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