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RENOVATING THE BOQUERIA MARKET
by Joan-Anton Benach, editor

Since 1914, when the arcades surrounding the old Sant Josep Market were covered with a simple and purely functional structure of no architectural interest, the image of the Boqueria Market has gained itself a place on the list of the city's defining elements. And in a very direct way, it has become a part of the Rambla's living physiognomy and popular history.

In much the same way as the Barcelona Football Club is more than just a club, as the saying goes, the Boqueria Market obviously is, and has been for some time, more than just a market. Even so, this space, one that is so tightly woven into the urban fabric and that is capable of triggering such a wave of intense sensations, both in Barcelona's citizens and visitors to the city, was in need of renovation in order to solve a number of problems, some of them functional and others having to do with the restoration of its immediate surroundings, an area that has been historically mistreated and offers immense possibilities. There was, however, one unavoidable precondition: the architectural and town planning renovation of the Boqueria Market, like any sort of reworking of an object that has been thoroughly assimilated on both the individual and collective levels, demanded an effort of rationalisation sufficient to distinguish what is essential from what is accessory.

As remarked by the architect Lluís Clotet, it was therefore necessary to "search for the qualities that we consider specific, significant and untouchable, so that we can preserve and strengthen them and therefore free up room to manoeuvre in the areas occupied by the generic or the irrelevant or that can be improved upon". Along with its history and an up-to-date view of its exuberant offer, and on the basis of Lluís Clotet and Ignasi Paricio's project, we felt that the Boqueria Market deserved a monograph to itself in B.MM. Over and above its descriptive ramifications, this undertaking is a particularly useful example, even a paradigm, in a sense, for a concise definition of the debate between conservatism and renewal, i.e. a vantage point from which we can make a critical analysis of the contemptible audacity of reformers with no memory and the sort of militancy in favour of the clichéd and the picturesque that, based on a skin-deep sentimentalism, can turn purely reactionary.

Alongside our regular features and a new section looking back on the last hundred years in Barcelona, worth noting in this issue are the article on the City of Knowledge, the interview with Joan Reventós and a look, from complementary points of view, at an issue that is taking on increasing importance in urban centres, i.e. the different ways of improving the culture of waste recycling and the reasons why that improvement is necessary.