Governance and Structuring of Public and Urban Space in Bilbao: Analysis of Global Trends at the Local Level

Mr. Iago Lekue

Having as reference the ‘right to the city’, how does globalization and its tendencies influence the urban issue and the public space of Bilbao?

The phenomenon of deindustrialization, as well as the vertiginous changes dependent on financial capital, produced, from 1980s, new trends in the models of organization and production of western cities such as Bilbao. Thus, the socio-spatial organization and structuring of the 'new city' begins to be a topic of great importance. It is in this sense that the concepts of public and urban space take on greater theoretical relevance.

In this way, we take as reference the studies and theories about modern cities, among which we highlight the ‘unequal city’ and the ‘fractal city’. On the other hand, we will fix the second axis of our theoretical framework in the epistemology of the urban space of Lefebvre. In addition, it should be noted that all this will be geared by the transversal axis of the 'urbanization of neoliberalism' aimed by Brenner, and under the umbrella of critical urban theory. Through the use of these theoretical tools we will know the democratic quality of the public and urban space of Bilbao.

In this case study, based on the analysis of a specific territory, it has been decided to carry out an empirical investigation, which aims only to know a real and contemporary situation. For this reason, the methodological technique mostly used has been the theoretical review and comparison.

The results obtained through the application of the theory in the case of Bilbao, follow global urban development tendencies. Spatial planning and residential differentiation fulfill the strategic functions of a class that dominates urban processes at their convenience. Therefore, there is a tendency to build aseptic spaces that are closer to the interests of capital than of citizens.