Interviewed in Zagreb on October 24 2002
ORIS: You’re from Barcelona; it would seem that after ten years of successes, Barcelona has an important role in the determination of the European architectural scene. That is, in today’s second-phase time, when the big project Forum 2004 is being built, it might be feasible to study this Forum. It will be interesting to see what will happen again. What actually was the reason for the initial success? Was it some individuals from architecture and politics, was it the result of good education, or was it the strong economy of the region?
Arribas: In 1992 the decision of the city to have the whole town promoted as city of design and creativity was extremely important. It was both really unexpected and at the same time incredibly effective. What is happening now, particularly on the part of the politicians, is the expansion of the city being halted. They are attempting to repeat the ’92 movement, but at the moment, the situation is different. There is not the same feeling, the same interpretation, the same transfer mechanism between political decisions and ordinary people, and I can’t see the same kind of unqualified enthusiasm. But perhaps something happened that happens once in a hundred years. I say that it is fine, and that we should go onwards. But to answer your particular question, why it was successful, particularly in my work. Well, I think that Antonio Rodrigues and his people give one great explanation, after that period of education. He was a school director, and this enabled him to create a network of talented students, and then they came into the city. This is the same thing that I was telling you about Zagreb. I think that Zagreb really is capable now of developing a town plan, because plans don’t cost anything.This is just a town plan for the future, and the future is not now. The future will happen when things are ready, but now is the time for thinking about things, planning, designing, town planning, cutting, directing. What is more important for the Barcelona ’92 period is not the Olympics, not even the Olympic Village, rather the careful design of the little things. Of course, the amount of examples was so great that quality did show up as well.