From the offices of Faber, we can see the Pla de Llacs sports park. If we go out on the deck, the near 360º views offer us a panorama of the Triai slope, which stretches from the beech forest of Fageda d’en Jorda to Canigou mountain. Our gaze then passes over the Serra del Corb mountain range, the Puigsacalm massif and over to the industrial parks that fade into mountains, urban volcanoes, the city of Olot, and finally the Alta Garrotxa region. The yearly changing of the seasons, which indeed offers a 360º panorama, shows us over the course of its 365-day cycle how the landscape changes.
In fact, it also shows us how we change. Each and every sensation we feel is ultimately connected to the landscape before our eyes and is further proof that we are in a natural park— an inhabited natural park. This is one of the first impressions we want to transmit to the residents arriving in Faber. We want them to be aware that they are in a place that includes humankind, a place of shared inclusion. The changes that occur in the landscape also occur to those who live here, even if it’s just for a few weeks.
Faber Residency for the Arts, Sciences and Humanities of Catalonia was founded in Olot a year and a half ago. Artists, writers, scientists, researchers and professionals from a broad range of disciplines and all over the world come to Faber to work on their projects and share them with the residents and communities of Olot, Garrotxa and Catalonia. In a year and a half, we have organised over 60 events, conferences and workshops in Catalan, Spanish, French, English, Russian and German at schools, organisations, universities and companies located in Olot, Girona, Barcelona, Figueres, Banyoles, Amer, Besalú and Ripoll.
The residents interact with the landscape and in the landscape, just like the inhabitants of the region and the city do— just like all the newcomers do, who arrive strapped with a landscape to work with new people in spaces we have all but long forgotten. Some residents have reopened our eyes to nooks and alcoves where we hadn’t set foot in a long time. Others have quite simply brushed their vital landscapes against ours to compare, describe and understand what goes on in these surroundings. They have climbed Montsacopa volcano and have seen that Olot is sandwiched between the slopes of two other volcanoes, Montolivet and Bisaroques, and that it attempts to dodge the river that crosses it. They have seen the factories and the urban sprawl of the city, and they have seen that the city is a living being, just like them, coexisting with a natural park.
As such, we felt it was necessary to organise this urban planning residency at Faber, as the planning of small and medium sized cities will be one of the major debates sparked in the coming century. We’ve read dozens of articles about San Francisco, Chicago, Toronto, Vancouver, Amsterdam and Paris, but what about the cities that don’t have this same resonance? What about the surrounding cities that act as the points of articulation of a territory? What about all the small and medium sized cities that curb the excesses generated by large cities? What about medium sized cities that act as the real and palpable capital of the local area they embrace and are embraced by?
The Landscape Observatory of Catalonia has developed support actions for many of the processes we have just described. Hence, here at Faber we are very excited to embark down this path of collaboration which we are certain will be long-lasting and prosperous. We are at the beginning, but perhaps we are always at the beginning of something.