Wednesday, July 6

More trees and priority for the walk: this is the model of the future pedestrian streets of the Eixample of Barcelona

Barcelona has already finalized the general design of the new pedestrian streets of the Eixample, the green axes that will eliminate car lanes, will change the asphalt for tiles – the traditional ones panots– and they will be filled with trees and some spaces for play and rest. The commitment of the consistory is that at the end of the mandate the works of four streets have been completed, which now have tactical actions (Consell de Cent, Rocafort, Girona and Comte Borrell), and that in the next ten years they will be transformed in the same line a total of 21 roads in this district and 21 of its intersections, which will become plazas.

Supermanzana Barcelona: Colau announces more pedestrianization in the Eixample, the district with the most traffic

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The project called ‘Supermanzana Barcelona’, which aims to pacify the district with the most traffic and pollution in the city, has taken a new step within the planned calendar with the presentation of the design that the streets will have, jointly prepared by the four architecture studios that they won the public contest. The change in the appearance of the roads is clear: from two to four lanes of cars to none, since it will be pedestrian. Vehicles may only circulate at reduced speed, without priority, on one lane of the single platform. There will be no asphalt, but a permeable pavement with panots. The vegetation will go from occupying 1% to 10% of the space and public lighting will be renewed so that it is not focused on road traffic.

The pacification of the Eixample, connected with other actions of green axes in districts such as Sant Martí, is one of the main government works of the current mandate of Ada Colau, who described it as a way to turn the city into a great ‘superblock’. “The protagonists of the new street model will be green and pedestrian”, has proclaimed the councilor for Urbanism, Janet Sanz, who has defined this model as “the streets of the XXI century” in a press conference accompanied by the chief architect of the town hall , Xavier Matilla, and Blanca de Gispert, representative of Cierto Estudio, the company that won the contest and has captained the new design.

The work presented this Tuesday is the lowest common denominator that all streets that are pacified in the district must meet, although each one will have its own project. In the case of the four streets that will be transformed in this mandate, it is expected that the preliminary projects will be presented in February 2022, each one drawn up by different architects. Finally, the works will begin in June of that same year and will end during the first quarter of 2023, shortly before the elections. The municipal investment will be 37.8 million euros in total, of which five will be for the squares and the rest, for the streets.

The main novelty of these new roads is that they will no longer be designed for cars, with the road occupying the centrality of the space. The new design establishes a single platform that will not be asphalt, but will have panots, a performance similar to that of the downtown areas of other neighborhoods of the city. The cars will only be able to go through these streets at a very low speed and, so that they do not end up imposing themselves, they will also be forced to turn in different routes along the route.

“The spirit is that of superblocks”, defended Sanz, with the usual example of Sant Antoni, which these days is usually full of people on the terraces of bars or in the picnic areas and children’s games. “The idea is that you walk wherever you want because the street is yours, and the rest have to adapt. The cars will be invited ”, he explained.

Another of the main characteristics of the new urban design will be the permeable pavement. It will go from a compacted and waterproof subsoil designed for traffic, with a “fertile” one that allows to reuse part of the rainwater, at least 30%. “It will have the ability to retain water and generate fertility,” explained Matilla, who has ensured that this will improve the quality of the green. As for the trees, which will increase in number, it is not planned to remove the current ones, although it will be evaluated if there are those that are sick or can be moved.

The great unknown of this project is how the squares that will be generated at the intersections between the pacified streets will look like. The intention is that cars can only enter them – always at reduced speed – but without being able to cross them, that they are always diverted. But what they will have inside will depend on each specific project. Of course, the council’s commitment is to promote neighborhood activities in the public space and will incorporate urban furniture such as benches, fountains, tables and play areas in each section of the street.