Tuesday 6
Urban resilience & collective action
Rafael Balanzo-Joue
› 15:40 - 16:40 (1h)
Making sense of the Holling Heuristic in urban environments: collective actions and cross scales influences in the transformation of Vallcarca neighborhood (Barcelona)
Rafael Balanzo-Joue  2, 1, *@  , Lorenzo Chelleri  3, 4, *@  
2 : Work Research Programme, Actions Without Borders, International Union of Architects  (UIA)  -  Website
International Union of Architects
Tour Maine Montparnasse - B.P . 158 33, avenue du Maine 75755 PARIS Cedex 15 – France -  France
1 : Research Institute for Sustainability Science and Technology, Polythecnic University of Catalonia, Barcelona Tech  (IS.UPC)  -  Website
Campus Diagonal Nord, Building VX (Vèrtex). Pl. Eusebi Güell, 6 08034 Barcelona -  Espagne
3 : BIARI Alumni, BROWN University  (Brown University)  -  Website
Brown University Box 1910 Providence, RI 02912, USA -  États-Unis
4 : Autonomous Barcelona University  (UAB)  -  Website
Geography Dep. Facultat de Lletres, Edifici B, Office B9-1048. E-08193 Bellaterra (Barcelona), Spain. -  Espagne
* : Corresponding author

Social-ecological resilience has been recently applied to urban systems. However, while specific resilience (to climate change stressors, infrastructure vulnerability etc) has successfully been developed framing new policies and planning, rigorous theoretical research on how generic resilience could be applied to urban systems is still missing. This paper explores a specific step of such theoretical challenge, re-framing the urban transformations happening during the last decade in Vallcarca (a neighborhood in Barcelona, Spain) relating them to Holling heuristic adaptive cycle.


In doing this, special attention will be given to different scales and agents responsible of the main drivers of the neighborhood transformations. In particular we will describe the four different phases of the adaptative cycle of the neighborhood in relation with social innovations during the last 10 years.


  • This first phase (k) of the adaptative cycle is a state of institutional rigidity and status quo in urban design policies. These policies had been established by the urban planning services of the city of Barcelona as a response to economic and politic interests. However, their long- sustainability is questionable.


  • The second phase (Omega) is the social, economic and environmental collapse of the neighborhood as it loses resilience and connectivity. The pressure of the urban planning policies scatter the neighborhood.


  • The third phase (Alfa) constitutes the phase of social empowerment in which social agents spontaneously gather and create alternative forms of self-organization with the objective to improve their neighborhood's quality of life. Initiatives include social and cultural activities to promote self-sufficiency and empowerment.


  • The fourth phase (r) is the polarization and exploitation phase. In this phase, resilience skills are rooted and strengthened by the fast colonization and building of new urban spaces. This process increases the connectivity between the urban collectivities and upper scales institutions.

This analysis will explore the advantages of using the adaptative cycle compared to the existing tools to improve our understanding of the neighborhood's resilience strategies for the urban transformability to sustainability.

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