“I will miss the old tiles of the Rambla”: Anna Gener, the power of Barcelona

Anna Gener walks with pleasure on the pavement of her childhood and adolescence.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
12 May 2024 Sunday 16:37
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“I will miss the old tiles of the Rambla”: Anna Gener, the power of Barcelona

Anna Gener walks with pleasure on the pavement of her childhood and adolescence. She knows that she will never again set foot on these waves that lead to the sea. The two-tone tiles that she discovered when she was studying music theory and piano at the Liceu will disappear when she (finally) renovates the Rambla. “For me it is a symbol that I will miss very much. I have experienced the degradation due to mass tourism and the proliferation of uses that may not be optimal, but I love the Rambla. And I hope it will be a place where we meet again. When clients or friends from abroad ask me where are we going?, I continue to recommend that they walk here.”

The CEO of Savills Barcelona actively participates in everything that happens in the city. She is a patron of the Fundació Museu Picasso and has been part of the board of directors of the Círculo Ecuestre and Barcelona Global, among other entities. The job at this multinational consulting firm is to “attract large international companies and capital.” She highlights that "among them are the world-renowned funds, American, German, Asian... That they are the same ones that invest in London or Paris says very positive things about the city and the confidence in its business fabric." She adds that all cities are specializing in economic hubs that concentrate companies and talent from a certain sector.

"And in Barcelona very interesting hubs are being established, one is life sciences: pharmaceuticals, biomedical research, everything related to health", such as AstraZeneca, which has just rented 25,000 m2 in the former Telefónica headquarters to its research center. “They wouldn't have chosen Barcelona without a building like that in the heart of the city.” Another hub, now in slower hours, is the digital and technological world of 22@.

Gener explains what elements Barcelona has that make it so special: “They have to do with urban planning, architecture and the human dimension, it is walkable and friendly. I like to say that it is like an open-air museum. Now this expression of the 15-minute city has become very famous, but Barcelona already was in the 19th century, thanks to the intuition of Cerdà, who saw that a mix of urban uses was needed, that activities such as working , shopping or enjoying leisure, day to day, they had to be able to be made in a short diameter. In addition to the mix of uses, the Eixample grid means that there is no single privileged center, but rather it is very polycentric and interesting things happen in many places in the city.”

And he talks about beauty, which “impacts our emotions. Without realizing it, we have a very high aesthetic education, because we are surrounded by buildings and urban elements of very high quality.” And beyond the obvious benefits of the climate and the sea, Gener mentions social cohesion, “on many Sundays I have met multimillionaire clients walking along the seafront alongside people who have just arrived in Barcelona with nothing and who have to rebuild their life. Each other enjoys together. There are wonderful cities where the lives of the rich and those who are not rich never intersect. We should take note of how extraordinary it is.”

But the big problem, alas! It's homelessness. “Neither for sale, nor for rent, nor free, nor protected, nor social. The obligation to allocate 30% of all new construction and rehabilitation to the city has slowed down development activity. Furthermore, we must think on a metropolitan scale, and that is where Rodalies comes in, which must improve. Protected housing must be created, but establishing collaboration mechanisms. Now the private world has no incentives to collaborate with the public, and the public sector makes decisions without taking into account everything that the private sector can offer.”