The Catalan architect questions the notion that the European city is more compact than the American one and calls for combating the monopoly of the automobile in sprawling cities.
Enric Batlle was interviewed by Shared Spaces in May 2012 when he appeared in the documentary Europe City, which was co-produced by the Centre of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona (CCCB) and Spanish public television.
Enric Batlle questioned the idea that the European city is more compact than the American one, saying that, “The idea that the European city is a compact city is one that has become sublimated” because “European cities have also sprawled into peripheral zones and it would be difficult to distinguish them from certain American models”.
The difference between the compact city and the sprawling one, he says, lies in what their outskirts are like and how the city relates with the natural, agricultural or “pseudo-occupied” space on its periphery. In this regard, he comments that the sprawling city “has taken the automobile as the basis of its relationship with the periphery”, which means that the car come to monopolise public space and has become practically the only way of moving around.
He, therefore, believes that “public space must find the right proportion to be occupied by each mode of transport” and stresses the importance of giving more emphasis to slower forms such as walking, the bicycle and public transport.