Joan Busquets

Martin Bucksbaum Professor in Practice of Urban Planning and Design

Joan Busquets is the first Martin Bucksbaum Professor in Practice of Urban Planning and Design at the GSD. Prior to joining the GSD faculty, Busquets was Chair-Professor of Town Planning and Urban Design in the School of Architecture at the Polytechnic University of Barcelona from 1979 until 2002.

A world-renowned urban planner, urban designer, and architect, Busquets served as Head of Urban Planning for the Barcelona City Council during the formative years, from 1983 to 1989, and in the preparations for the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, including the New Downtowns program for the City and the improvement process for existing neighborhoods. In 1969, he was a founding member of the Laboratorio de Urbanismo of Barcelona (LUB) and undertook a long-term study of squatter settlements in Barcelona and other Southern European cities as his PhD, for which he received the Spanish National Award for Town Planning in 1981, winning the award again in 1985 for his masterplan for Lerida’s old town. His urban rehabilitation strategy for Toledo, Spain and the publication Toledo y su futuro was recognized as Gubbio European Prize by ANCSA in 2000. Awarded in 2011 with the International Erasmus prize (The Netherlands); in 2012 with Grand Prix Spécial de l’Urbanisme, Paris (France) and the Catalonian National prize for Architecture and Open Space. Elected Full Member of the Académie d’Architecture de France in 2016.  In 2021 won the Patrick Abercrombie Prize of UIA.

Busquets has participated in strategic urban planning and design — most involving public-private partnerships — for the cities of Den Haag, Lisbon, Marseille, Rotterdam, Singapore, Sao Paulo and Barcelona Metropolis. His Team had completed projects for the modern center of Trento, and Alghero in Italy; the transformation of Vilanova; harbor front in Coruña and for housing in the Maquinista development of Barcelona, in Spain. Also, the Civic Center for Nesselande in Rotterdam, the Railway transformation in Delft and the Housing renewal in Western Amsterdam in The Netherlands. The city center in Viseu and the Chiado block, downtown Lisbon in Portugal. The transformation of the outskirts of Rouen, the retrofitting of old town of Toulouse and new Ecoquartier in Le Grau du Roi in France.

Recent lines of academic research include: Cities: Ten Lines. Exploring how city design of the time did not respond to a single pattern and we can discover as many as ten different lines of design strategies: From key buildings such as the Bilbao Guggenheim to minimalist interventions in Évora; from the New Urbanism in Florida to the experimental architecture practiced in some projects submitted to present-day competitions; those are four examples out of the ten lines. Research on Urban Grids studied the regular city to discover its potential in history, but also its current capacity as the basis for an urban project. The grid can produce a coherent city with great openness that enables urban development to consider other dimensions that were impossible to foresee when it was first designed. Also, the Urbanistic Impact of Expos on City Development, taking the initial hypothesis that cities and territories often need big projects that reach beyond the immediate planning a city can undertake in the short term. This is where the big events come in: Expos and other urban operations that allow for larger scale projects. The research shows the diversity of models used in the Expos, and they need to be considered as city design with several cycles, since the big event lasts a few months, and the city requires other weighting criteria.

Busquets has published many articles and books, including Barcelona: The Urban Evolution of a compact city (2005, 2014 and 2020, English, Spanish, Mandarin and Catalan versions), La urbanización marginal (1999), The Old Town of Barcelona: A Past with a Future (2003), Joies (jewels) de l’arquitectura catalana contemporània (2017); Cities X Lines: A New Lens for the Urbanistic Project (2007); ); Urban Grids. Handbook for regular City Design (2019) Ciudad Regular: manual para diseñar mallas y tramas urbanas (2020);   Modern Architecture and City (2022, English and Spanish).

Special issues or books on his work: Joan Busquets -City in layers – Erasmus prize (2011); World Architecture Magazine 272 WA – Designing Urban Architecture: Joan Busquets+ BAU/BLAU (2013).

Academic research publications: Bringing the Harvard Yards to the River (2004); Aleppo: Rehabilitation of the Old City (2005);  New Orleans: Strategies for a City in Soft Land (2005), Shenzhen Designing the non-stop transformation city (2010)Innovative Boulevards in Lisbon (2013); Hangzhou Underlays: Grids from Canal to Maxi-Block (2017); Manhattan Framework: Rectangular Grid for Ordering an Island (2017); Chicago Boundless: Two Grids Between Lake and River (2017); Barcelona Collage: Manifold Grids and the Place of Cerdà (2017); Zhengzhou: From rail-city to a Metro-polis (2019); Shanghai: From Post-Expo Era to new Centrality (2019); Osaka: World-Expos as transformative design devices (2021

Publications on professional work:  Six projects for Downtown’s Den Haag (2004); A Coruña: A New Maritime City in the Port (2006);  Viseu: Cidade Antiga e Novo Projecto Urbano/Old City and a New Urban Artifact (2007); Spoorzone Delft-Railway Zone Public Space Design (2010); Nieuw Centrum, Nesselande, Rotterdam (2011); Dunkerque: projet de réaménagent du centre-ville (2012); Le Grau du Roi: Ville Balnéaire (2017); Avignon: Courtine-Confluence (2018); Projet Urbain Montluçon (2018); Place Saint-Sernin à Toulouse: Réaménagement integral d’un site monumental (2021); Toulouse – Identité et partage du centre-ville (2014 and 2021); Greenway: Development Strategic Planning of Xiangyang Town in Harbin (2022).

He has participated as a visiting professor in London, Urbino, Rotterdam, Rome, Lausanne, and Geneva, as well as on numerous juries for international competitions.

Professionally based in Barcelona since the 1980s, His firm BAU B. Arquitectura y Urbanismo SLP was founded in 1992 and has designed and executed urban and architectural projects in Europe. His firm BLAU B. Landscape Arquitectura y Urbanismo SL was founded in 2008 has designed and executed few large-scale projects in Latin America and China. Busquets received his degree in architecture (1969) and his doctoral degree (1975) by the Architecture School of Barcelona ETSAB – UPC.

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