Back With Invigorated
As longtime design partners of Urbidermis, we knew that they were kindred spirts
of ours. But after experiencing first hand their city, culture, history, and inspirations, our appreciation
runs that much deeper.
Urbidermis is able to harness the spirit of Barcelona—the history of urban
resilience and innovation, the passion for boundary-pushing art and design, the devotion to built
environment intertwined with nature—and faithfully translate it into a better vision for urbanity worldwide.
There’s a deftness to the Urbidermis ethos that is both unique yet universal, true
to their identity yet inclusive of others, and fluent in the common languages of nature, art and design.
It’s a recipe for great change and a compelling vision for restoring balance in cities across the globe. And
this, for us, is truly inspiring.
Spanning 200 forested hectares just outside of
Barcelona is Parc de Belloch, a verdant estate
whose history dates all the way back to 972 CE.
Translated as "bello loco" or "beautiful place,"
Belloch is a gem among gems in the Spanish
countryside, a convergence of people and nature
with a powerful story to tell.
While the complex has since closed, its architecture
and its mission live on. Since 2003, Parc de Belloch
has served as the headquarters and proving ground
of urban revitalization and re-naturalization for
Urbidermis as well as Santa & Cole, the interior
division, and Belloch Forestal which will explore
later in this series. Exploring the intersections
between design, management and ecology, it's
here that Urbidermis is laying the groundwork for a
greener, cleaner and more equitable reorganization
of our global cities.
A Beautiful Place
Modern history at Parc de Belloch begins in 1964
as a portion of the plot was transformed into a
hub of education and innovation. The resulting
Belloch educational complex designed by architect
Manuel Baldrich is a shining example of mid century Catalan Rationalist architecture, a series of
buildings magnificently related to the landscape.
Throughout a history of promise and peril, a fact
remains: Barcelona is an ideal location for a city.
Since it was first settled, development has almost
always been defined by a sense of purpose. With
few exceptions, Barcelona has never sprawled.
Instead, each period of growth has been intentional,
carefully designed and realized by central planners.
Probably the most notable of these planning
visionaries is Ildefons Cerdà, a Spanish engineer
and coiner of the word "urbanization" whose 1855
expansion plan for Barcelona was way ahead of
its time. His vision was surprisingly egalitarian,
designing around equitable access to key resources
like hospitals, parks and plazas. The following
period around turn of the 20th century gave birth to
international architectural icons like Antoni Gaudí's
Sagrada Família and Park Güell, both of which we
will explore next in this series.
But as seen throughout Barcelona's history,
great promise can be met with great peril. The
mid-20th century is a difficult period in Spain to
say the least, bringing about the hard-fisted rule of
Francisco Franco and the violent suppression of
Catalan culture. And yet, the spirit of the Catalan
Small, locally-focused urban revitalization projects
bolstered the city just enough to win the bid for the
1992 Summer Olympic Games, the tipping point
that set off an urban transformation so innovative,
so progressive and so successful that it continues
to serve as a model for developing cities to this day.
It's from this era of modern urban renaissance that
Urbidermis is born, taking up the mantle from Cerdà
and Gaudí, nurturing the spirit of inclusive and
equitable urbanism, and empowering cities around
the globe to evolve for the better.