Zaragoza International Advisory Committee meeting July 20th 2005
Committee members present: Francois Bar, Manuel Castells, Dennis Frenchman, Veronique Kleck, Guido Martinotti, William J. Mitchell (Chair), Saskia Sassen, Angela Lopez
City of Zaragoza: Mayor of Zaragoza, Excmo. Sr. D. Juan-Alberto Belloch, Ricardo Cavero, Jose Carlos Arnal, Ricardo Pedrol
Mitchell: one of the main Goals of this Committee is to identify, in a broader picture, some of the directions that the Network Society is taking and what relevance this might have for a city like Zaragoza. On a complementary basis, there is an opportunity for a very exciting concrete project, which comes as an outcome of this kind of process, which will be developed through the day. We should try to condense the result of this sessions in a document with a declaration about this process.
Cavero’s overview of the current moment of the city: Zaragoza is living an essential moment. The situation of Zaragoza in Spain and the relevance of its notorious cultural (mainly roman, Middle Age and Renaissance) heritage are being completed by a series of projects which are due to boost the economy of the city and its physiognomy: the 2008 Expo in the Ranillas meander, the huge logistic platform Pla-Za, the arrival of the High Speed Train, with the new station and its surrounding area, and the urban transformation in the southern part of the city, with almost 40.000 new houses to be built in the forthcoming years.
The city hall site (recently chosen as the best city website in Spain by El Pais, Spanish leading newspaper) is implementing some important features: eAdministration online proceedings, mainly through digital signature, digitalization of analogical files, etc. The municipality is also working to create wi-fi hot spots, using open source software, and creating networks to promote the image of Zaragoza as a privileged site for innovation. Through this aim, we have created Innovate Europe, an annual event bound to work as a European version of the Demo, which takes place in Phoenix (Arizona) every year. The town hall has created a private foundation, Zaragoza City of Knowledge (ZCC), to foster innovation and to promote science and technology. ZCC is also supported economically by some national big companies and regional private banks. Of course, the Digital Mile (DM) is our main project in the area of knowledge.
Mitchell: The concept of the Digital Mile is related to various issues not only linked to infrastructures for the Digital Quarter (housing, the workplace, entertainment work, public space). A key feature is the particular opportunity to create new Public Space within the framework of the DM project. What is public space for the XXIst century, for the Digital Era? The answers are not obvious, but it is extremely important to consider that Public Space is what makes the character of the city become visible. If this is really a Digital City, this must somehow be visible in its Public Space.
There has been quite a lot of work in the last 5 years to think about Digitally Mediated Public Space, what means are available for innovation, and Dennis Frenchman is going to make an overview about this.
Public Space is not the only question we are going to focus on, but is a good point to start, because it’s concrete, it’s real, and it’s going to be very central to this project
Kleck: so the DM is our main goal as Committee?
Mitchell: Yes, because it is probably the big intervention in this area in the city, and if we can give a compelling concrete shape to the idea of the DM, and maybe identify some real project that can be pursued within that framework, that is probably our main task.
Frenchman: we all bring expertise from different areas, so we should try to pool all this experience and put it in the frame of a place that is being invented. The city is trying, as Ricardo said, to pool together all these various things that are going on in different places to create a new kind of place. How does this fit into the conception of a new kind of space? Through our research in the MIT we have pooled for you a collection of images to almost ‘provoke’ you about experiments in taking this digital world and bringing it into the tangible reality of everyday life in the city.
Presentation by Dennis Frenchman: What is a digital space?
- 1. It’s a great Public Space on the traditional sense, a continuation of many of the traditions about Public Spaces that we’ve had. We just have now new tools to renew and modify it.
- 2. A new kind of enclosure. Spaces don’t exist in the middle of nowhere. So it is a dynamic enclosure that can change and can have a mood.
- 3. Within the spaces, we have personal access to the delivery of information, which has particular spatial implications. We don’t quite understand them very well yet.
- 4. These are places that have the ability to sense and respond.
1. Great Public Space on the traditional sense
It’s important to remind ourselves what a great public space is, we know it when we see it, we experience it. Traditionally it’s really a form of theater. The space in front of this building (Plaza del Pilar) is architecturally defined, human-scaled, it has supportive activities.
These qualities enable personal and public exchange: of goods, ideas, emotions. We share an emotion as people in the space. What is happening in London? People come together in public space to share those experiences.
And therefore, over time these places become imbedded with narrative meaning, for the people who use them and for the people who claim them. In a sense, even the traditional spaces are mediated, they have these characteristics of information, of sharing, of memory, and so on.
If we think about the great spaces, they are mediated, like Piazza del Campo in Siena. It exists as a civic space one day, and a sports space in another day. And when it changes, media and communications are involved: to transform the perimeter of the space, to create a different enclosure, to give information about what is happening, and to respond. So spaces have these qualities about what they want to be.
So the question for us is to discover this in the DM in Zaragoza. Being in Spain, our task starts with a fantastic collection of great public spaces. If we are picking up a place to do this, this is the question. If we were in Los Angeles, we would probably choose a space near the beach, but Zaragoza, from a romantic sense, is a great place to do this.
There are several reasons for this: Zaragoza is a place where cultures have converged with their layers of information, different messages overtime that are all expressed in the architecture. There’s a lot of history in the city, our hard task is to take advantage of this fabric: a roman city, a baroque city, a XIXth century city, a contemporary city. Each of them has a message.
Our particular site has been cleared within that fabric: here is the train station, here is the Expo site, the meander, the old train station, the Plaza del Pilar where we are. This space has dimension, it goes from the old train station, that has been cleared, along the tracks to the new high speed station, there’s much space around. These are the spaces that have been debated and now apparently agreed, at least in terms of infrastructures. So here is the ‘big spaghetti’ that connects with the city and the circular road around the city. Here is the bridge which Zaha Hadid has won the competition for. There is also a new pedestrian gate that will connect the Expo and the station, new developments of housing, etc.
So the train station is now on the middle of nothing and an urban fabric will be more or less created. It has a totally different scale to that of the rest of the city. So to mediate that scale is one of the greatest challenges for us in this project.
One question for us is: can media help us to do it? Here is an example of the challenge, this is the train station, here is a parking garage site, potentially a site for public space, that we might consider.
The downtown site is extremely interesting: the old Portillo station has been moved out, and tracks have been buried. So this is ‘Zaragoza’s little big dig’. This is one proposal which is being studied to create public space, facilities and housing, which may vary. But again the potential to create space in Delicias and Portillo is huge.
With the city hall, we did some conceptual studies just to get ourselves into this project and understand where we might create these human spaces. Although this is not the final design, it illustrates some things we are considering:
- The potential to create that Public and mediated Space here at AC – 19, and the park with the facilities there.
- Some way of dealing with the connection out to the train station. This offers an opportunity with the big area in front of the train station.
- There is also the possibility of creating a landmark with all the junctions crossing around the area.
If we are looking for contents for the city, the Aljaferia is an ICON for the region, with a lot of content, because it is an Arab castle with centuries of history that hosts the Regional Parliament. Nevertheless, from an urban point of view, its importance in the city is being neglected. It is not visible for the public, and it is important to make it more visible.
2. Visually Dynamic Enclosure
The digital technology gives us the ability for display. We can add digital displays as visible aspects, such as façades and elements of the space. We are not talking about plastering a display into a building, but actually about integrating it into the architecture.
We can change the color, patterns and images, but the also the look, the mood, and the content, by day, by season, etc. It is easy to realize this image of screens and displays in mind, Times Square in New York is a clear example of this. They are all programmable via wireless network; suddenly they can all be part of a larger message. This is different. It changes the way we conceive the space, and also the architecture of that space. It could become civic art but it could become a political disaster.
The architecture here has been replaced by the screens, which are actually cheaper than the building components.
But how do digital and physical environments merge?
If we think about different examples, such as the Subuya crossing in Tokyo, which throws all of them together, not with the potential that we talked about before, but it does it. Also Las Vegas, where the street is put on a mediated roof, we can put all that we want on it.
Mitchell: if you look at this image, you see no traditional architecture in the space, no brick, no stone, no glass; all is technology, which is defining the characteristics of the public space. Should this be the way things are done? Should there be more relation between the physical and the immaterial elements, how do we rethink the subtle relations between static and dynamic architecture?
Frenchman: in some cases such as recently in Greenwich Park in London, these displays have been very useful, and we have other examples of interaction of both scales such as Millennium Park in Chicago. These are examples of dynamic enclosures. Here in Zaragoza, the magnificent heritage of the city can be perceived walking through its old part. This environment is not static, because it changes as the sun moves, it reflects, it changes, so it is a kind of ‘media in its time’.
Another issue which is mainly social is that if we put a social space, which is the appropriate content in it? What about the social and cultural values inside? Once thing we can discuss here, is there an opportunity of exploring the cultural contents of mediated space? Until now, this has mainly been commercialized.
Mitchell: let’s have a look at the Confederation Square in Melbourne. This is an example of public space which is animated. This case represents a mix of public space with common messages, but not just a succession of commercial messages like in the Subuya Crossing or in Times Square.
There is also the question of political control. It is important to have a free speech area, a civic zone.
Martinotti: this can be compared to the difference between the Piazza and the Palazzo. There are hidden dimensions
Frenchman: in the case of Lyon, in the Festival of the Light, the building is giving content to the space.
Mitchell: this night view of Tijuana and its Imax Theater shows that there are other examples of interaction different to the cases of Shibuya or Times Square. In this case, it is an artistic intervention. Regarding Lyon, the Festival of Light is the place for the event.
Lopez: to which kinds of citizens are directed all those messages, from the point of view of the control and the dynamics?
Frenchman: who should control the messages in the space? Looking at this building in Berlin, the power of the narrative, the power of the symbol, overtakes the space. Comparing it to other buildings which have no mediated space, the difference is quite obvious.
3. Spatial implications of the personal access to the delivery of information within the space
Frenchman: every city has certain places where certain exchanges happen.
Such as the Romans went to the forum, there are today some spaces where this flow of information takes place, mainly in two ways: thanks to the wireless technologies, communication flows from the public space to the web. But on the other way round, it is essential to bear in mind that there is at the same time a delivery of a particular content to particular people, who are in this space (and nowhere else)
Probably, there are ubiquities in this process, and they will collide.
The wireless world is bringing communications from the space to the web and vice versa, and its proliferation is transforming the live-work environment.
How will wi-fi recombine with indoor and outdoor activities in the public space? The use of PDA, cell phones, GPS and other devices creates new processes and developments that are forms of embedded intelligence: Pay/Identify/Ticketing/Memory Cards/Key ID/Online shopping.
Can digital space contain Knowledge?
Can digital space contain Knowledge?
Can it become a public memory?
All this changes our information of the information and the space.
Mitchell: currently there is a project in Barcelona, combining the use of GPS and a cell phone. Only pointing the phone towards a bus stop or to a building, the GPS starts your search. It is no necessary to type anything anymore.
There is also an Unwired project in Venice, that makes us think about our cultural heritage and how we make use of it. The application is designed to be a friend, not only a guide. If you enter your personal data, when you go to restaurant they know who you are, and also your economic level.
Martinotti: we submitted a GPS project for Venice, to measure the crowd in the Carnival. Also for Fiera de Milano there is a project to develop MPPDS mobility and proximity devices, similar to the Japanese ones. These devices are designed to help you to arrange a meeting with someone you would like to meet. For example, if I am a businessman of the textile sector and I want to meet someone from New York working on the same sector, this device help us to meet if both of us are inside a trade fair or anywhere else.
Castells: These devices are already used in Japan to meet people and socialize.
Frenchman: this is also used to locate people in proximity.
Mitchell: it is obvious that the important of technological programs designed to meet people is growing bigger and bigger. Some of them use cell phones and others use badges.
Martinotti: family and laptop don’t combine well! It’s like working with your computer in a park or in a beach.
Frenchman: it works for covered or semi-covered spaces.
Mitchell: It works quite well in semi-covered spaces such as loggias, cafés and galleries. That is very important for Zaragoza.
Frenchman: in Beijing there is a 12-lane street with bridges and platforms. There is a public memory of the project, with an outside subway photograph reflected years ago.
4. Ability of the digital space to sense and respond
Frenchman: this is an space that responds to the events. For example, if 50 Expo visitors have arrived on the scene, the space is sensitive and can respond, adapting itself to every condition, depending if the space is filled by kids on a Saturday evening or children on a school day.
Mitchell: it is necessary to recall the importance of the fountain and the reactive capacity of the fountains. Some source holes can emit water when they feel the presence or the weight of the pedestrians. Walking jets are activated when pedestrians pass through.
Martinotti: this technology can also be used as functional irrigation, like gardening devices.
Frenchman: a clear example of furniture that responds is the technology used to install the congestion charge in London. These machines used to control the car number plates help to create revenues and ease the traffic in the city.
Castells: the new freeway in Santiago de Chile already does it. This is important for traffic control; it is now possible to automatically locate parking spaces, or to revert lanes.
Mitchell: there is a concept car project, using Frank Gehry design, for rental cars (using a compact card with wi-fi), that can be put together like supermarket trolleys. Other interesting projects are the Kiosk Shelter designed at the MIT and the Virgin Wall (interactive wall in China).
Frenchman: the experience of the digital space is not just the use of a cell phone or a display. Just like standing in an old Piazza or square is not the same as seeing it on a book, every signal or symbol causes implies feelings and different meanings for every individual.
As we combine traditional physical space with dynamic enclosure, there are ubiquitous accesses to information. There is a private realm between contents and production. The access is controlled by the tenant/owner.
Mitchell: How can these technologies do something unique which may be identifiable only with Zaragoza and with all its actors, bearing in mind its climatic, historic, cultural, geographic and social characteristics?
Review of Digital Mile Sites by Mitchell and Frenchman and implications for the Public Space and the city
AC-19 (El Portillo)
Mitchell: AC-19 is very defined. Mainly a green area equals a new kind of park; 5% of the green space an be built. The DM road infrastructure is defined in a pretty clear way, including a potential subway stop on AC-19 (subsequently, it has been decided to include a subway stop on the site.)
The northwest corner site (triangular site facing traffic circle) is for a mixed use building – developer needs to submit to the city a plan. City has discussed an intelligent building façade. Potential space for IT companies is a strong orientation to consider. Multipurpose building for high level uses.
Southeast corner site (lower site more within city fabric) is for “intelligent” housing, above. Facilities on lower 2 floors (base); 6+ stories of housing above; 2 meter set-back. Have talked with several important developers.
The Middle area is considered for three sites for culture, sports, entertainment (like theatre), pool, civic center, and some health and community services.
Parcels north of boulevard: 30% of surface for public facilities; rest is park.
Parcels south of boulevard: Housing and offices — % vary by site (100% office on eastern parcel – mix on rest)
Parcels in front of train station: Mix of housing and office (50% each) with health center on corner parcel to the west. Configuration of buildings in parallel rows has been specified but could vary; program cannot.
Some relevant issues:
- Connection between the Delicias station and Portillo is urgently needed.
- We need to be able to portray to people what we want to do. What we need is to have a model of digital intervention in public space, particularly in El Portillo.
- The water story and theme is important.
Sassen: To have public space and digital access to the internet at the same time is what we are discussing. How do we mark that digitally and physically? How can we take the citizens to the Public Space? Internet can be a tool for this process. The same space can have many functions, is like Piazza del Campo (Sports and tradition in the Palio, and socializing in a summer or winter evening).
All these small elements can put together with digital pilot programs, millimeter by millimeter, without architecture, incorporating all these technological places.
Martinotti: We have one larger observable city linked to another dimension that is not observable, represented in symbolic terms. In society this unobservable dimension includes all sorts of things – fears, emotions, norms, city uses and abuses. Zaragoza, as every city, is linked as well to other social standards (rules, fears, emotions, terrors, etc).
Permeable space is a problem – particularly for the older generations who have a stronger sense of public and private. It is essential to develop a virtual, permeable space. The younger generations have very different concepts of what private and public spaces are. We have to make these places attractive for them. If you think your image is being picked up and many people are there; if you think that someone is watching or listening, then you won’t go there. But young people might.
Sassen: the edge between publicness and anonymity needs to be preserved – anonymity is one reason people participate in public space.
Bar: a key question is how we make this relevant to Zaragoza. There needs to be a system as open as possible. In physical space the architectural control is obvious, but in virtual space it is not, the difference between Piazza and Palazzo is much easier to fix. We may want to say publicly who is in control. Someone may not want their picture to be projected. Control over this should be an option to the user. Also, make more visible who is in control; provide greater transparency of who is in control of the system.
Castells: I have a concern that this turns into some kind of science fiction project that would expel people. Technological systems are being given to different groups of people. What is the content of these systems?
What are we not thinking of? We need the capability to experiment with different kinds of people. People say that we know this and that and there are different knowledge groups, but we want to make it an urban lab. From a sociological aspect, people may know that they want from technology or maybe they don’t know. Let’s try an interface with people so people could say: “we need this and that, and with these results”.
Mitchell: We need to develop a culture of using technology in the public realm. On the other hand, it is important to avoid a pathologic use of IT.
Lopez: We need to start observing what people are doing in pubic space. Who is there and who is not there. Are women there? Women of immigrant cultures? How is the population structured? We need to take advantage of these people to design the space. People translate needs into actual physical uses (playing, gossiping, discussing, etc.). We have to identify their needs?
Castells: Do we have the money for this? What do the sponsors want?
Arnal: The functioning of the project would be guaranteed by a consortium. To get the money, we’ve got to diffuse the benefits of the project. Several multinational companies have expressed their interest. Citizens have to visualize the project.
Mitchell: to get innovative projects funded, it is necessary to be very concrete, very specific.
Frenchman: the project has to be consolidated after the Expo. Telefonica and Samsung have expressed interest. Companies need to sell technology products and services, so they may participate. So on one hand, it is necessary to raise the value of the place, and attract companies.
On the other hand, there is a danger of over-programming and making it excessive. It is essential to know what do our funding partners want.
Sassen: We need the “Barcelona effect” – of the Olympics that attracted out of town investment but also brought in many parts of the city and built a local constituency. In Zaragoza, the Expo could serve a similar role: drawing attention and support for the DM project locally and abroad. The Expo needs to connect to the city, so the projects are intertwined. It is essential to bring all parts of the city together.
Martinotti: There is a need to enroll people in the project.
Kleck: Water is a good theme. Nano-technology, new materials and resources will be the debate in 20 years. What are the potential voices on the question of water? What is the political aspect? Water is a public good – at our level we can try to be part of this debate. An EVENT on the water theme could be a very powerful symbol and reality, an experience, a dream.
Mitchell: the reality of Zaragoza is the reality of a city that deals with the water, so the water has to be connected with the space. In cities like Bilbao or Sidney, the Guggenheim Museum and the Opera are connected to the space (the Bay and the Ria). In Zaragoza we will also succeed if we achieve a similar connection.
Representatives of the Civic Society in Aragon
Interventions held by several actors of the public and private areas in Aragon.
Enterprise association: CEPYME
Trade Unions: UGT, CCOO
Neighborhood association: FABZ, UV Cesaraugusta
Association for Strategic Development of Zaragoza. Ebropolis.
Association of Internet Users
Association of Linux Users: Zaralinux
Association to foster IT access: Milímetro Digital
Journalists: Cadena SER.
Response of the Committee Members to the interventions of Citizens Representatives
Martinotti: it seems to me that there is a contradiction, do enterprises use the Internet or not? What is the expectation?
Carmelo Pérez (Cepyme): 70% of those who have access to the web (the overall majority of all firms) do not use it. The tech product has been sold extremely well to the companies, but they have not been taught how to use it, or how to use profitably. Those firms with 50-70 workers are doing fine, but those which are really small (less than 15 workers) are missing the opportunity.
Castells: in Catalonia, 80% of the companies employ less than 15 workers, but those of them which are starting to use the web and the eCommerce are obtaining significant earnings. The glocalisation process is not working in this case if the firms do not believe in something just because it is not tangible. IT are useful for the network co-operation, also in the business area. In my view, the problem is not so much the diffusion of the web, but the co-operation systems and networks between enterprises. Probably there is a very significant proportion of individualism. In this field, the role of the Public Bodies and the Regional Administrations is essential to help the SMEs, through different mechanisms (aid to purchase and renew IT equipment through fiscal advantages or easy credits).
Sassen: Small companies — How do we get them to use the internet? Giving them access to these technologies is the key issue.
Jorge Arasanz (CCOO): we would be quite happy if our 35.000 members would use the e-mail instead of the ordinary mail. Only 2.000 of them use their email address.
Fernando Vicente (Milímetro Digital): we no longer read newspapers, in the past 18 months we have reached 8000 blogs hosted in our server. We’re not only information consumers, because we’re producing information with our blogs. The advantage for us is that the IT literacy of the young generation in Spain is much bigger. This helps us a lot, and also to meet people and create networks (both form an entrepreneurship and social perspective).
You read a blog, you send an email to the author, you make an appointment with him and new projects arise. This is a clear example of how to create networks. The case of the Unions is quite illustrative, if only 2.000 in 35.000 use their email is because the rest has not been taught how to use it.
Kleck: It is essential to get the support of the population to spread IT, and the role of the social leaders and communities is essential to get it if we want to achieve a real interactive system.
Press conference: response to the questions of the journalists
Castells: Zaragoza needs direct intervention regarding knowledge society. Too many white and green books are done in many places, but is necessary to act directly to create new models of cities that can be perceived directly by their citizens.
Martinotti: we must observe the changes in the behavior of intellectual mobility in the cities, not only the normal mobility. On the other hand, is important to consider the changes in the public sphere in Europe in the last 20 years, from government to governance (with more co-operation at an intellectual level).
The same can be applied to the eGovernment, which is changing the traditional ways towards eGovernance, with a more interactive and co-operative of IT.
Frenchman: at the MIT, we combine IT with the functioning of the cities. In this field, there is a group of cities that are being joined by Zaragoza. Although IT are still somehow sterile for their users, in these cities IT help to create networks for the population to meet people. Therefore, Zaragoza is an ideal place to combine the productive experience of IT, a good quality of life, cultural heritage and a local government which knows clearly what they want to achieve through the use of IT.
López: We already know the relevance and technological push of the DM, know we have to foster its social pull. This aim needs a clear political leadership. The contribution of the social actors in the project is fundamental, especially to create a real public space. Zaragoza has an appropriate level regarding the life quality, and has also the will to improve and reinvent itself that very often the great metropolis have lost.
Journalist: How is going this Committee to reach the citizens? Which are its functions? Will it be useful?
Mayor Belloch: Three members of this Committee have assessed us in the design of the DM, and their work was not only useful for a mile, but also to a significant surface (100 Ha), for the development of two important programs, such as El Portillo and Delicias. Those measures implying a aesthetical and iconological legacy, will be regulated and included in an specific call for proposals (i.e. the great square in front of the new railway station)
Cavero: thanks to the creation of this Committee, many new ideas are arising about how to transfer these concepts to the citizens, with the help of the Zaragoza City of Knowledge Foundation.
Journalist: Could you give us some examples of interventions already completed in other cities?
Sassen: in some Italian towns, maps of the city have been generated to assess which aspects are functioning correctly, and which are clearly mismanaged, in terms of public transport, facilities, wireless areas, etc.
Martinotti: Many SMEs have access to the net but they don’t know how to use it. An adequate diffusion of the digital culture can be relevant in this direction.
Castells: in Zaragoza there are at least 8.000 blogs hosted. This means that newspapers have not anymore the monopoly on information.
Mitchell: Use of water as a theme is a good starting point; ties to the expo and digital potentials that treat water as a medium, “parting the waters” for the mayor, for example.
Frenchman: Visual material on buildings through advanced display and information accessed in public spaces should be a characteristic of the Digital Mile. These technologies could help to reinterpret Zaragoza’s layered cultural roots and make connections within the city, its past, the expo water theme, and the larger world.
Kleck: But we need to involve the population to make such a dialog, and work with inhabitants of the city.
Martinotti: A box to contain the idea is needed , such as a point to say why we are doing this, or a storyline. For example: The role of the citizen has been diminished. We want to put the role of the citizen forward, inform people more and bring the individual citizen back into the center of public life.
Give the idea of a project, something that throws forward, rather than a program, which is something that you write, like a dream. This project will aid the transition towards a digital society: it must push technology.
We have to tell the residents of the city that we are doing this for them, and the role of the public administrations here is to listen more, receive and process the feedback given by the citizens.
On the other hand, there might be a fear that the city centre may be a little bit loosing in benefit of surrounding areas. It is necessary to stress that this benefits the city as a whole.
Bar: Involve the citizens and get experimental. Provide a platform that can be flexible, open, re-programmable. This is very important.
Arnal: We need to explain why technology and the project can help to generate highly skilled jobs, as a strategy for economic improvement. Technology could not only be a tool, but also a way to create a new job and economic reality. We need the story and the context to create this project, not just use technologies.
Castells: there are three key elements, technology, water and residential uses. Let’s stress the use of innovation, to put together a new innovative space with design and water. One way to think about this is as a layering on the “iconic and aesthetic”.
We should think about how to undertake residential and social uses in the space, while at the same time being attractive to technology companies. Residential units would act as a testing ground. After being tested here, these ideas could be exported elsewhere, presenting this as the most advanced way to have urban housing and living. Probably the only problem is that people living in this area could feel like guinea-pigs.
Develop the notion of including uses of water that involve technologies, for example, how the water is treated in that area.
Since no resources have been allocated yet for the project, and time is running out as well (elections are due to be held in 2 years), we should think about a PILOT PROJECT that could be implemented with the Expo, beginning in the next 2 years or starting a year from now, with a second part ready for 2008.
Frenchman: when are the tenders going to be held?
Arnal: Probably at the end of this year. We need to take advantage of the private sector. The Portillo area of the old railroad station will develop first. 240 flats need to be ready for 2008; we could choose this area as a pilot project. The area surrounding the Delicias station will also be developed soon.
Observations by Mayor Belloch and responses
Mayor Belloch: One of the most interesting areas is a potential square at the new train station. From a strategic point of view the 2008 Expo project will take much money. There are a series of elements that are vital for Expo and therefore, even though not the main objective, they could be useful as pilot experiments. Full implementation of the Digital Mile will be beyond the Expo; as a continuation of the process started by the venue, for the period 2009-2011.
Zaragoza Alta Velocidad (ZAV) , the public company that owns the land is willing for the second phase not to have open tender, but to choose designs by invited competition.
Decisions needed in the present:
1. Unitary treatment in terms of urban prescriptions for the area surrounding the Portillo (AC-19), Delicias station (AC-44), and the Expo site in the Ranillas meander. This whole area (100 Ha) must be an artistic unit that doesn’t impede the integral development of the district. Give the unit a homogenous appearance in terms of lighting, furniture style and beauty.
2. Identify a symbolic space — 2-3 areas — to develop, in order to confer a iconic aspect to the project. First, the great square at Delicias station is the most obvious.The big park of the Almozara (between the station and the Ebro River) is another opportunity, which is 90% municipally controlled, and 10% owned by Zaragoza Alta Velocidad. This could contain the site for a future Justice Center with social and public institutions.Finally, municipal facilities on the edge of the new boulevard in Avenida de Navarra could also be planned, now planned to become a green area.
We can select the kind of architecture and control the program there, because there will be enough funds here, channeled through tenders and calls for proposals.
If we make design architecture, even if it is 30-40% more expensive, all the ZAV consortium will agree. Everybody in ZAV understands the relevance of this.
It’s important to separate the open tender for urbanization from the aesthetic appearance and iconic symbol. It is fundamental to give an integrated treatment to the whole DM (lighting system, urban furniture), to give real personality to the whole complex.
After 2008, the whole financial capacity of the city will be dedicated to the DM, that will become the star project of the city.
Arnal: We have made some progress on creating digital units. 3700 residential units will be offered to companies as test units, a living laboratory for installing advanced communications access.
Lopez: Research centers of universities need to be embedded in this living lab. Advanced research institutions, such a bioscience and nanotechnology may be interested, as well as private universities.
Frenchman: From a practical point of view we have three locations with constraints for these uses (in blue areas of the map, looking North from the current highway A-68). The station could be a very appropriate place to build hi-tech areas mixed with a campus.
Kleck: We need to see space with people, put together to feel something. a place where people come to have pleasure, not to see technology, a place which is crowded. A place that induces but to take pleasure being in the city, where technology is not the only obvious thing. A place that is highly livable and useable by the local population. Zaragoza has an important advantage towards other cities, because usually stations are not the most recommendable places to visit.
Bar: What is currently missing in this area? It is empty now. Nobody is there. We should consider it as a space that would be used INSIDE as well, as opposed to the current station. The arrival at a social space would be a success and an excellent gateway for the city. We must create continuity between the entry point and integration with the city, link virtually to the train.
On the other hand, it is important to create and use the technology, even if we don’t know what for, it is important not to take anything for granted. The most successful applications are started by the people who use them. The minitel is a clear example of that.
Lopez: The place is empty, but there are many people elsewhere in Zaragoza. How do we draw them to this area? There are other projects in the city in this direction like San Pablo Digital.
Castells: My experience in Seville is that real estate interests come in and transform places into real estate for speculation, not necessarily real estate that people can use.
Mayor Belloch: If the operation is successful, people will think of Zaragoza as specialized in water. We want to avoid being a city of non-knowledge.
After the Expo, the city will have one of the greatest Aquariums in the world, various Spa representing different thermal baths of different cultures, and we will recycle the dirty waters of all those facilities to reuse them.
Unite these things into a “Mile of Water”, linking with the project of Hadid, that continues the research on water. That kind of aesthetic will close the circle. The capital of water needs to be geographically visible.