Exhibition Historical Museum MUHBA
Barcelona ← Back to the portfolio
Amongst the many changes encompassed by the Industrial Revolution, the water revolution broke long-established equilibriums existing between water and the city. An analysis of Barcelona’s case history highlights a decisive one hundred year transition period that vastly increased access to water, making this resource available in the domestic sphere and bringing with it radical changes to citizens’ daily lives.
In an initial phase of this process, new requirements were supplied fundamentally through the intensification of preindustrial practices. In Barcelona, as of the approval of the Eixample project and following in the footsteps of other large cities, the foundations were laid for the new “circulation model” in which water distribution pipes and the sewer network could be described as the city’s arteries and veins. A new sewer system was required to discharge water that had been supplied and to eliminate latrine waste; similarly a generous water flow was necessary to clean out the system. While the sewer system was managed exclusively by the council, water provision was not.
The city had freed itself from the constraints of the old regime and there were renewed expectations for urban growth, leading numerous companies to exploit new sources and new technologies. This in turn implied a correlative increase in water pressure and a capillary form of distribution. The most decisive changes took place at the turn of the 19th century with the business amalgamation process and the start of the effective renovation of the sewer system. One of the newest and most relevant aspects was the process that took water into homes and the ensuing changes in sanitary devices and bathrooms that profoundly altered hygiene practices and led to a new body culture. Despite regulations that encouraged water consumption, high costs, traditional consumption habits, economic crises and a marked social segregation prolonged this transition until the beginning of the 1970s.
However, no sooner had the issue of water provision been “conquered” than another set of issues arose concerning the “limits to growth”, a new problem for a new era. (Manel Guàrdia – Exhibition curator)
|Client||Barcelona History Museum (MUHBA) Institute of Culture, Barcelona City Council|
|Exhibition curator||Manel Guàrdia|
|Collaborator research and maps||CREAM Architects, Angel Cerezo|
|Photography rights||Daniel Loewe|
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