portada de BMM

by Joan Clos, mayor of barcelona

Spring has arrived at the close of a rather intense political and electoral cycle. Over a period of nine months we were called to the polls to elect members of our European, municipal, regional and national governments, with results that now require some assimilation. This is neither the time nor the place for any sort of comprehensive analysis, but it is safe to say that the city's dynamics remain largely unchanged, requiring a certain amount of negotiation and compromise between institutions and different levels of government and therefore obliging us to work together in an honourable and responsible manner.

Barcelona is at a critical juncture, with a series of initiatives that we must carry through with our best efforts. There is not sufficient room here in this Open Letter to go into the large number of projects in detail, but there is one common element that is at once a point of reference and a caution on our calendar, and that is 2004. Barcelona's new goal on the horizon is 2004. It is a goal that includes a number of projects - from the superspeed train to the airport - that are scheduled for completion then. It is a goal that includes the Universal Culture Forum, an event that now has a preliminary programme and has entered a decisive phase in its development. And it is a goal that includes town planning and environmental initiatives in the Bes˛s and East area of the city, an area that Barcelona shares with Sant AdriÓ, Santa Coloma and Montcada and that, from the narrows to the mouth of the Bes˛s river, is destined to play a key role as an urban and metropolitan axis. We can look forward, then, to 2004 as a unique moment, a very tangible burst of change, but the period starting now and leading up to that date is just as crucial, or perhaps even more so. And we can rightly say that it is doubly important.

In the first place, there is the consideration that Barcelona must be capable of renewing itself in order to make continuing progress and improvement, to take part in the new economy and build the city of knowledge. This is a concept that we will see developing day by day and that will also be reflected on the pages of BMM, thanks to the new section inaugurated in this issue.

Then, there is also the consideration that Barcelona, while transforming itself, must also maintain its characteristic features, the aspects that we see as identifying our city, such as quality planning and respect for our common ground, cohesion and coexistence, civic-mindedness and plurality, creativity and freedom, complicity and the sense of taking part in what the city has to offer and what it requires.

This issue's monograph shows us the Boqueria Market of the 21st century, with an explanation of the extensive renovation project now being prepared, but we can rest assured that the personality that has made it the city's most representative market will remain unchanged. In the same way that the Boqueria Market combines past and future while above all brimming over with vitality, Barcelona will renew itself while preserving its distinctive character.

This combination of change and identity, in short, dynamics, is the key to building, understanding and interpreting Barcelona.