For Manuel de Solà-Morales (1939–2012), urbanism necessarily entailed the application of ideas to different realities. He saw urbanism as a social construct, subject to political debate, but he knew that the design project must define strategies and actions for diverse conditions. After studying at Harvard GSD, he returned to Barcelona to establish his practice. His projects reflect the influence of his professor Josep Lluis Sert, as well as Ludovico Quaroni, Aldo Rossi, and Henri Lefèbvre. This symposium celebrates Solà-Morales's synthesis of the roots of urbanism with contributions by Lorena Bello, Joan Busquets, Felipe Correa, Jean-Louis Cohen, Alexander d'Hooghe, Alex Krieger, Rafael Moneo, Marcel Smets, Marion Weiss, and Mirko Zardini.
The construction of urban theory in the field of urbanism and urban architecture calls for a refined conceptual formulation and a socially valid practice; above all, it needs the time to develop. In this process, the emergence of figures capable of generating “new visions” is commendable: Manuel de Solà-Morales, Barcelona architect, was one such. He was one of the first Spanish students of Josep Lluís Sert at Harvard, he founded the Laboratori d’Urbanisme de Barcelona, and he created new concepts and introduced innovative practices for transforming urban design in Europe.
The symposium taking place at the GSD on 10 October tables a critical discussion of his theoretical and practical legacy with a view to understanding the roots of today’s urbanistic discipline as one of the pillars for addressing the major challenges facing the city and urbanized territories in the 21st century.