Beyond guerrilla urbanism: Can Batlló and the slowness of knowing, managing, and making

  • David de la PeñaEmail author
Original Article


Guerrilla urbanism has enjoyed widespread popularity over the past decade, provoking a reconsideration of the conventional roles of technicians, designers, and citizens and prompting a surge of creative tactics for improving cities. Nonetheless, some inquietude has accompanied the movement’s success—namely concerns about superficial citizen engagement, a focus on immediacy versus sustainability, and a disregard for expertise. While unsanctioned urban design has always existed in cities and is unlikely to disappear, the challenges that this movement faces could limit its contributions to local communities, planning institutions, and the design professions. This paper evaluates a case in Barcelona called Can Batlló in order to introduce the potential of “slowness” for sustaining guerrilla urbanism. In what began in 2009 as a guerrilla social movement and continues to thrive as an autonomous community center, this project has avoided the pitfalls of superficiality, immediacy, and amateurism by connecting with larger processes that are designed to last. Three themes are highlighted to elucidate these connections: autoconeixement (self-knowing), autogestió (self-management), and autoconstrucció (self-building). As the case study shows, tactical approaches to city-making that are deployed within a larger strategic frameworks allow time for meaningful engagement, deliberative processes, and the promotion of craft and expertise.


Barcelona Guerrilla urbanism Tactical urbanism DIY urbanism participatory design Autogestión 



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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Limited 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Human EcologyUniversity of California, DavisDavisUSA

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