Morphologies of tourism

A description of the impact of tourism in Barcelona

Morphologies of Tourism describes the tourist impact in Barcelona by analysing soft data with the aim of generating both a public monitoring infrastructure (being critical with official sources) and a series of documents to understand the complexity of the phenomenon and take further decisions.

Tourism challenges today the mechanisms of urban regulation, the right to the city and the need to control the free market.  As a result of an intense tourist promotion (starting with Universal exhibitions held in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and accelerated with the celebration of the Olympic Games to the present), Barcelona is a city with a growing number of visitors. In front of approximately 1.6 million of inhabitants, Barcelona receives 23 million tourists each year.

The city is a very attractive destination benefited, in part, by war conflicts and political instability in other tourist destinations and fostered by the affordable connection to the main world capitals thanks to low cost airlines.

In parallel to this consolidation of Barcelona as a tourist destination, housing rents have risen disproportionately in the last three years. This increase is linked to the consumption of residential land to build tourist accommodations, speculation in the property market by local and foreign investors and the irruption of the so-called “collaborative” economy of the p2p leaded by companies such as Airbnb.

In view of this situation, many of residents of Barcelona feel the need to know and exercise control over this phenomenon looking carefully at the situation of to other European cities such as Venice, and its desertification, or Paris, with the expulsion of your citizens to the periphery.

Finally, it should be noted that although tourism was a tool to consolidate the city’s manufacturing economy, today it is an industry itself. A service-based industry, which requires low-skilled workforce with very low salaries and, therefore, with a low contribution to the state’s social funds. A paradigm that is far from the knowledge economy, which is projected as a desired transition from past and present dislocated industrial models.

The project is divided into 19 cartographies. Especially developed for the FADFest’17 Barcelona Arts and Design Festival, they are grouped into 4 chapters that illustrate the tourist attractions, the hotels, the available services and, finally, address the potential population displacement caused by tourism.

During the week of the FADfest (28.06.17-30.06.17) a bus traveled and stopped at all the busiest tourist spots in the city. The bus was not full with tourists but with data, cartographies and testimonies of the tourist activity. Especially adapted for the occasion, this tourist-exhibition bus operated as the emblem of the event and as the device for generating citizen debate around the city.

Client: FAD
Completion: 2017

Link to the project ->


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Grand Prize – Innovative Collaboration: Awarded for innovative collaboration between industry or technology and the arts (and the cultural and creative sectors in general) that open new pathways for innovation.

S+T+ARTS=STARTS – Innovation at the Nexus of Science, Technology, and the ARTS: STARTS is an initiative of the European Commission to foster alliances of technology and artistic practice that effectively implement European policymaking to nurture innovation and that benefit the art world as well. The focus is on people and projects that contribute to mastering the social, ecological and economic challenges this continent faces.

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