Urban Transformational Adaptation: Contestation and Struggles for Authority in the Pilot Barcelona Superblock of Poblenou

Isabelle Anguelovski*, Christos Zografos, Kai A. Klause, James J.T. Connolly

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in BookChapterResearchpeer-review


Cities’ increasing vulnerability to the effects of climate change calls for greater attention to urban transformational adaptation as a path towards environmental and social resilience. Through the initial Superblock project in the Poblenou neighbourhood of Barcelona – whereby traffic pacification is combined with new open space and transit network improvements – we analyse municipal efforts aligning transformational land use planning with climate adaptation objectives and the pushback again them. The initial opposition to the project embodied the everyday political struggle for municipal authority, that is, clashes over visions for the future Barcelona and who can define them and own them. Urban transformation – and the contestation around it – is thus not only about negotiating environmental and quality-of-life benefits that are ostensibly the target of interventions, but also competitive urbanism and related short-term political gains. Of particular importance is how civic and political contestation over the authority of climate champions can jeopardise not only transformational adaptation achievements, but also the political survival of those champions. Transformational adaptation can be slowed down not only by the fear for the material and political effects of transformation per se, but also because of how key stakeholders and the residents around them contest who has the authority to decide for the common good. This chapter is a modified and updated version of the Zografos et al (Cities 99:102613. Copyright (2020), with permission from Elsevier, 2020) article previously published in Cities, Elsevier.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUrban Resilience to the Climate Emergency
Subtitle of host publicationUnravelling the transformative potential of institutional and grassroots initiatives
PublisherSpringer, Cham
Number of pages27
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-031-07301-4
ISBN (Print)978-3-031-07300-7, 978-3-031-07303-8
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Publication series

NameUrban Book Series


  • Competitive urbanism
  • Mobility
  • Public space
  • Superblocks
  • Transformational adaptation


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  • GREENLULUS: Green Locally Unwanted Land Uses - GREENLULUS

    Anguelovski, I., Amorim Maia, A. T., Argüelles Ramos, L., Baro Porras, F., Cole , H. V. S., Connolly , J. J. T., García-Lamarca, M., Loveless , S., Perez Del Pulgar Frowein, C., Shokry , G., Triguero Mas, M., Agyemang, C., Benach, N., Bouzarovski, S., Clark, E., Gullón Tosio, P., Livia Brand, A., Pearsall, H., Slater, T., Weber, R. & Wyly, E.


    Project: International research project

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