“The Park Güell is a public park located in the Les Corts district of Barcelona, Spain. It was designed by Francesc de Paula Villar and built between 1900 and 1914.”
Park Güell is perhaps one of the most beautiful, surprising places photographers can visit. This incredible garden is like nothing you’ve ever seen before. However, what’s even more impressive than its beauty is the fact that it incorporates technology in its design. It was the first time electricity and hydraulics were used in landscape design.
The beginning of the park was one man’s dream: Antoni Gaudí. He saw something in the buildings that had been there before him that no one else did – potential. After seeing a fountain in Lleida, he wanted to bring that concept to life. So, he worked with Francesc de Paula Villar and designed what we now know as the Park Güell.
Gaudí had many contacts and friends in the art world and wanted to incorporate some of the artists’ work into his park. The leading artist he spoke to was Pablo Picasso. Gaudí invited Picasso to be a part of the project, but Picasso declined. He was given the commission to decorate a wall with mosaic panels depicting scenes from Don Quixote, but he never completed it.
“Gaudí’s plans for a church at the park were never realized. However, a tower was constructed, with iron crosses on the facade. Today, the iron crosses are removed in accordance with the law.”
The Park Güell project is undoubtedly a work of art:
“The Park Güell is one of Francesc de Paula’s most famous and important works. The park was built between 1900 and 1914 and designed by Francesc de Paula Villar and based on Antoni Gaudi’s original designs. It’s supposed to represent the mythical Garden of Eden, a vision of the world from a Catalan perspective. At only 12 hectares (27 acres), it is one of the smallest parks in Barcelona but it is also one of the most important.”
Today, Park Güell is being collectivised:
“The Tàrrega Cooperative was founded on April 3, 2005 by an initial 10 members. The goal of the cooperative is to provide a framework for individuals who want to use the park in the same way that it was used in Gaudí’s time: as a public space open to everyone.”
Currently, 600 members collectively manage and maintain Park Güell. The community created an annual fee for its members. This membership fee allows for the park’s infrastructure maintenance and enables each member to vote on how to spend their funds from year to year. For example, voting members could allocate funds to stay open on holiday weekends. Refurbish paths and bridges that need repairs, or build a new playground area. The park has more than 20 vote-based projects underway at any given time.
“The cooperative has raised almost 3 million euros for the maintenance of the Park Güell through its Park Day and Fair activities. The Park Day is a unique event where members of the cooperative enter the park to share their experiences. Of using the park and organise day-long activities such as cycling in the park, stands selling handicrafts, musical gigs and more.
These events are organised by non-members who contribute to supporting their favourite projects.”
“The public garden that Gaudí designed for La Barceloneta district (Avinguda del Portal Marítim) was never realised. However, the park that he planned for Les Corts district (La Barceloneta) was completed. It is a resounding success and attracts more than 1 million visitors per year.”
“The Park Güell is owned by the Generalitat de Catalunya. The park consisted of 12 hectares (27 acres) and was restored after damage during the Spanish Civil War. It has many visitors taking the Park Guell Tour every year and is one of Barcelona’s most important tourist attractions.”
“The garden was designed by Francesc de Paula Villar, an architect who worked alongside the famous Catalan Modernista (Art Nouveau) architect Antoni Gaudi for several years. It was Francesc de Paula Villar who introduced Gaudi to the property owner Eusebi Güell.”
The members of the community do not own the park, but they do lease it from the government. The cooperative raises funds for the park’s maintenance and works to promote it. They have managed to create a minimum viable product that can be easily replicated, and therefore. They have been able to start a crowdfunding initiative to allow the community to finance new projects.
“The Park Güell is managed by the Tàrrega Cooperative, who are responsible for all of the physical infrastructure and maintenance of the park. The cooperative is administered by a board of directors and also has committees that govern different aspects of the park. The committee for the sanitation, for example, manages the toilets and maintains the paths around the park.”
The main objective of this initiative is to allow people to see what type of collective management. Approach can be taken when people work together in shared spaces. This model can be used in other public areas as well. Many communities are working towards improving their parks.
“This collective management model is an example of a better way to manage public space. At the moment, the payment of users for using the park is the only source of money that sustains it.
The Tàrrega Cooperative has raised almost 3 million euros for maintenance through its Sagrada Familia Tour Day and Fair activities.”
“The park is managed by a cooperative, who raise funds for maintenance through Park Day and Fair activities every year. The cooperative has a board of directors who are elected annually. There is also an Economic and Social Council (Consell Econòmic i Social). Which represents the community’s socio-economic interests, as well as a Citizens’ Committee to assist in the maintenance of the park. The community also works to prevent urban sprawl, and provide land that can be used for other community initiatives. This model of management seeks to provide a framework for individuals who want to use the park in the same way. That it was used in Gaudí’s time: as a public space open to everyone.”
Park Güell is a place where community members are actively involved in the management of public areas. This is not new since many cities have been doing this for centuries. However, there are no standards to ensure that general space management is transparent and fully accountable to the community it serves. This can have serious consequences, as we have seen in the case of Zuccotti Park with OWS.