About 96,000 new homes are required daily to meet housing needs worldwide

The first discussion of the "Cities Against Inequality" talks, organised by Casa Amèrica Catalunya with the collaboration of DIPLOCAT, debated problems related to housing

The first discussion of the "Cities Against Inequality" talks took place last Thursday, organised by Casa Amèrica Catalunya with the collaboration of DIPLOCAT. The talks includes three sessions to debate key areas for transforming cities into more liveable, fair and sustainable places, providing access to decent housing, public health and improved public safety.

This first talk was about housing problems in large cities and it was presented by the director of Casa Amèrica, Marta Nin. She began the event by thanking a group of high school students from the French High School of Barcelona for their attendance. They are studying the problems of gentrification in cities. After that, she introduced the two speakers: Alejandro Cavazos, engineer and founder of the Catalan start-up Additive Spaces, specialised in sustainable housing; and the Catalan Elena Castellà, architect for the Urban Planning Department of the Barcelona Metropolitan Area.

Mr Cavazos began by recalling how his youthful experiences in Mexico led him to study engineering and work to find new forms of construction that are more sustainable and affordable for everyone. The Mexican discussed how in his country, with great social inequality, many people live in very simple constructions, built with hazardous materials. He explained that it is estimated that the world needs about 96,000 new houses a day to meet housing needs. Cavajos spoke about his company's joint project with a Mexican NGO to build the first affordable housing development constructed with 3D printing technology. The project also aims to be the first example of the use of digitisation to build homes more quickly, with sufficient sustainability, quality and affordability for everyone. The construction sector is one of the sectors with the lowest levels of innovation, where the use of technology is relatively new. He also explained that while concrete is currently used for the construction of these homes, in the future, he wants to use soil and materials that are more sustainable and have less of an environmental impact.

For her part, Ms Castellà spoke on the imminent approval of the new Metropolitan Urban Plan, which establishes how cities should grow and what spaces will be used until 2050. Ms Castellà pointed out that the plan must consider mobility, housing and equipment to accommodate the population of the urban centres. In this sense, she explained that the local government must ensure the distribution of housing throughout the territory to avoid social segregation. The speaker noted that the plan will include the need to focus on affordable public rentals. It should be remembered that while Spain only has 1.5% of affordable public rentals, Austria has 24% and the Netherlands has 30%. As for cities, Barcelona reserves 30% for affordable housing in new buildings, equal to Paris, a percentage that will also extend to other municipalities in the metropolitan area.

The "Cities Against Inequality" talks will continue with two more discussions on health and safety in the coming months of April and June. At a time when the majority of the world's population lives in cities, urban centres have often become a source of unrest, conflict and loneliness for many people. Cities must evolve if they are going to be more welcoming to their inhabitants, improving their physical and mental health and, indirectly, their social relations. Both public and private sectors and the third sector must be decisive in the path towards a friendlier metropolis.