The history of Barcelona is closely linked to urban planning and especially to the design of public space. What has become known as the ‘Barcelona Model’ has a lot to do with the value of public space, as an area where the city takes on meaning, and where the spirit of society itself is reflected in the face of various historical moments.
The transformation of the 1980s laid the strategic foundations for what public space means in Barcelona: a tool to balance and provide quality to the entire city, from the most central neighborhoods to those that were considered peripheral neighborhoods at that time.
Today, 40 years after those actions, the bases are the same but the city, and the world, are framed in a new context. Unfortunately, Barcelona is a city with unacceptable levels of air and noise pollution, and its public space is mostly occupied by vehicles, the main source of pollution. In addition, the effects of climate change are already evident, with episodes of extreme temperatures, droughts and storms, among others.
Faced with the climate challenge and the broad consensus that the city should be a healthy space, it is necessary to define a new model of public space that, while maintaining the criteria of quality and balance throughout the city, has the capacity to provide new responses and reverse the actual situation. We have no alternative: we now know that it is a matter of survival.
The presentation of the new green street model for the Eixample within the framework of the Superilla Barcelona plan and the first projects that will develop it respond to this challenge. A new street model based on three principles. First of all, understand the street as a space to live, to be, to play, to rest, a space that prioritizes people’s well-being. The second, a naturalized street, built as an environmental infrastructure, with many more and more diverse trees, greener, and therefore with more shade and better quality of comfort, which incorporates mechanisms to filter and retain water, with material and construction innovations. . And third, a street that reactivates local daily life, promoting social interaction and commercial activity. The objective: to promote a process of systemic transformation in the streets of the entire city, building a new environmental and social infrastructure for the whole of Barcelona.
A new street model that also represents a new way of thinking and projecting the city. The model has been the result of a broad and intense collaborative process. A work in which teams of professionals from various disciplines have participated together with municipal technical teams, with the contributions of the Superilla Barcelona Advisory Council and developed through a participatory process that has allowed knowing and integrating the needs of neighbors, associations and interested entities.
A new street model as a response and reflection of contemporary challenges, to turn Barcelona into a healthy, friendly and fairer city. A city to live and enjoy.
The author signs this article together with the Superilla Barcelona Office of the Barcelona City Council.