Polis: lessons from the European Prize for Urban Public Space

  • Design
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Thu, October 19 —
    Sun, November 19, 2023
Polis: lessons from the European Prize for Urban Public Space

The exhibit presents Spanish architects drawn from the European Prize for Urban Public Space, which reflects on globally shared challenges and offers solutions that contribute to more democratic cities.

Drawn from the institutional archives of the European Prize for Urban Public Space, the Polis exhibition, created in 2014, has shown the best projects presented for the Prize, thematically grouped in order to offer a broad overview of the democratic quality of Europe’s public spaces.

In 2023, under the commission of the Cultural Office of the Embassy of Spain in the United States, and coinciding with the Spanish presidency of the European Union, the Center of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona (CCCB) presents a revised version of Polis, which, on this special occasion, focuses on the best works of intervention in public space in Spain during the last twenty years.

The exhibition is conceived as a journey through 24 projects showing the improvement of public spaces in Spanish cities, reflecting on globally shared challenges, and presenting solutions that contribute to more democratic cities.

Related events

Opening reception

  • On Thursday, October 19 at 7 pm. At Dupont Underground.
  • With Elisabet Goula, Head of the European Prize for Urban Public Space; David Bravo, curator of this exhibit; and José María Churtichaga and Cayetana de la Quadra-Salcedo, Spanish architects awarded in the European Prize for Urban Public Space.

Screening: City Symphonies

What are today’s cities like? And what’s revealed by the scrutiny of filmmakers? City Symphonies are avant-garde films from the 1920s, with works like Manhatta, Rien que les heures, and Berlin: Die Sinfonie der Großstadt. They portray cities as abstract compositions of lines, shapes, and rhythms, showing anonymous crowds and the daily rhythms of urban life, offering a unique perspective on modern society. A century after the emergence of the first “city symphonies”, what are our cities like? And what can the scrutiny of filmmakers reveal to us?

City Symphonies relives the genre of “city symphonies” but from today’s perspective. Collecting the evidence provided by all these works, the CCCB has commissioned women filmmakers, members of the group Dones Visuals –which consists of both established and emerging filmmakers– to portray their city, Barcelona, and its metropolitan area. This time, however, the films are approached as a diary written in first person, in which the filmmakers bring together thoughts, experiences, and emotions. Each film has a different kind of gaze: voyeuristic, poetic, ironic … but all, in some way, raise universally contentious issues such as the use of public space, inequality, living in a community, the migratory experience, how intimate spaces might fit into a big city, tensions between the outskirts and the centre, the urban and the rural. They bear witness to the cities of the early 21st century, with a mosaic of visions that reveal, in a multifaceted (and sometimes contradictory) way, what life is like in today’s metropolises.

Panel: District of Columbia and the Democratic Quality of Public Space

  • On Saturday, November 11 at 4 pm.
  • Free, RSVP required.
  • Dupont Underground Introduction: Julian Hunt Dupont Underground Founder, Hunt Laudi Studio.
  • Moderator: Lorena Bello Design Critic in Landscape Architecture, HGSD.
  • Panelists: Andrew Trueblood Trueblood, Thaisa Way and Anna Chamberlain; Rita Abou Samra, Community Planner (Urban Designer), DC Office of Planning; Scott Kratz, Building Bridges Across the River-11th Street Bridge; and Jonny Peterson Senior Designer, Gensler DC.

In the context of the exhibition Polis, Lessons from the European Prize for Urban Public Space (2000-2022), a group of panelists will discuss the challenges of bringing solutions that contribute to the democratic quality of public space in the District of Columbia.

Closing night with DJ Javier Pamplona

  • On Saturday, November 18 at 7 pm.
  • Free, RSVP required.
  • Join us for a night where music and architecture will meet in Dupont Underground, with Spanish DJ Javier Pamplona.


Venue map

Dupont Underground, 19 Dupont Cir NW, Washington, DC 20036


Free, RSVP required. Open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, from 11 am to 5 pm.


Presented by CCCB and commissioned by the Cultural Office of the Embassy of Spain in Washington, D.C., in collaboration with Dupont Underground, Architecture and the Question of Democracy Series.



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