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The area was settled by the Romans in 15 BC and the medieval city of Barcino was built in the first century BC.It is small, surrounded by a wall about 1.5 kilometers long, and features a vertical street grid with Roman characteristics, which was later carefully conceived and built by central planners.

(Moran and Moran, 2020)    
(Moran and Moran, 2020)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Designed in the 1850s,  it will be transformed into a network of so-called superblocks that will create walk-centric communities, offices -18 minutes, Downtown -15 minutes, Subway – four minutes, Gym – two minutes, Supermarket – one minute, Bar -30 seconds. The very uniform layout makes daily life in Barcelona easy, while addressing the health, sustainability and pollution problems that Barcelona faces, and creating a dynamic environment for living, working and playing (Moran and Moran, 2020).

Superblocks planning

400 meters x 400 meters of nine square blocks, the maximum speed limit of the road in the first stage of the super block is 20 km/h (12.5 miles per hour). In the second stage, it will change urban life and the way people use public space. Roadside parking Spaces in superblocks will disappear (by building roadside garages) and top speeds will be 10 km/h (6 m/h), enabling people to play games, sports and cultural activities on the streets. Ready to add 300 kilometers of bike lanes in the city, supplement the super block, at the same time increase the bus service,which only need to wait for 5 minutes time, super block planning to encourage people to walk, ride a bike, such as green travel way, to reduce urban traffic congestion, reduce carbon dioxide emissions, driving the movement of the stream of people, so as to improve the development of the economy(Core77, 2020).

(Superblocks, 2020)
(Superblocks, 2020)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusion

  1. More sustainable travel;
  2. Reduce noise and waste emissions
  3. Revitalize public areas and make streets quieter
  4. Promote social cohesion
  5. Promote self-sufficiency(Superblocks, 2020)

Superblocks will be unique communities, more closely related to each other, with Shared governance and public resources – cities that can be the equivalent of microgrids, and have much more potential. But it can be inferred that it is not very convenient for people in Barcelona to travel long distances, especially to the surrounding areas. And there aren’t many green Spaces or parks in the city, some of them around the city.

(Superblocks, 2020)

 


References:

Architecture Walks and Tours in Barcelona. 2020. Superblocks.[onlinel Available at: <https://barcelonarchitecturewalks.com/superblocks/> [Accessed 27 April 2020]

Core77. 2020. Barcelona’s “Superblocks” Plan: Less Cars, More Bikes, Better Social Spaces – Core77. [online] Available at<https://www.core77.com/posts/55297/Barcelonas-Superblocks-Plan-Less-CarsMore-Bikes-Better-Social-Spaces> [Accessed 27 April 2020].

Moran, C. and Moran, C., 2020. Within Walking Distance. [online] (barcelona-metropolitan.com). Available at: <https://www.barcelonametropolitan.com/features/within-walking-distance/> [Accessed 27 April 2020].

Vox. 2020. A Fascinating New Scheme To Create Walkable Publid Spaces In Barcelona. [onlinel Available at: <https://www.vox.com/2016/8/4/12342806/barcelona-superblocks> [Accessed 27April 2020].

Vox. 2020. Barcelona’S Remarkable History Of Rebirth And Transformation. [online] Available at: <https://www.vox.com/energy-andenvironment/2019/4/8/18266760/barcelona-spain-urban-planning-history> [Accessed 27 April 2020].

2 responses to “How does Barcelona create a fascinating new scheme for walking public Spaces”

  1. Thanks, Shuai a very stimulating read on Barcelona and their new superblocks! I have personally read upon this topic whilst researching my design thesis on urban childhoods and youthful cities regarding urban design.

    Regarding the new superblocks of Barcelona, I think it is very forward thinking with regards to their sustainable way of living with additional features that make living and moving around the city more user friendly. As Bausells (2016) writes, the new superblocks will enable cars to only travel at 10km/h whereas the usual routes are at 50km/h, this provides routes for pedestrians and cyclists along the new superblocks as shown in your figure and in Bliss’ (2018) article. Gill (2019: 22) also writes that the new strategy will make these spaces into “citizen spaces” and these superblocks are piloted as easily applicable and adaptable model that can improve quality of life for children, families and seniors. Additionally, assessment of health impacts has shaped this project, with reduced pollution, promotion of active travel, safety and social activity and cohesion without compromising the mobility network.

    In addition to the positive impacts on the environment, alongside physical health to the human, studies show that the superblocks can also extend lives and boost mental health (University of Reading, 2019). This may be the future of urban design within densely packed cities like Barcelona as the principles and objectives of the superblocks are wide-ranging. The ideas they hold should be practised around the world with their own unique twist.

    Bausells, M. (2016). Superblocks to the rescue: Barcelona’s plan to give streets back to residents. The Guardian. [online] Available at: < https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2016/may/17/superblocks-rescue-barcelona-spain-plan-give-streets-back-residents > [Accessed 20 May 2020].

    Bliss, L. (2018). Inside a Pedestrian-First ‘Superblock’. CityLab [online] Available at: < https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2018/08/inside-a-pedestrian-first-superblock/566864/ > [Accessed 20 May 2020].

    Gill, T. (2019). Cities Alive – Designing for Urban Childhoods. ARUP, Retrieved 15 April 2020 from: https://www.arup.com/perspectives/publications/research/section/ cities-alive-designing-for-urban-childhoods

    University of Reading, (2019). Superblocks: Barcelona’s car-free zones could extend lives and boost mental health. [online] Available at: < https://research.reading.ac.uk/research-blog/superblocks-barcelonas-car-free-zones-could-extend-lives-and-boost-mental-health/> [Accessed 20 May 2020].

  2. Hello Shuai! I’ve been to Barcelona myself so enjoyed reading about the design which I was gripped by while I was there. Which is the perspective that I could add to the conversation, and that is how this kind of design makes you feel when you’re in the space, on my own reflection the seemingly never-ending sightlines were beautiful, albeit, a bit daunting at times. Which is contrary to Kevin lynches idea of good public squares being formed by enclosed spaces. [1]

    The road width also is something that adds to this, while also supporting the pedestrian and cycling infrastructure that you mentioned. Though from what I could gather it was being used as such, although not as much as somewhere like Amsterdam.

    I believe that this is because of the scale of the blocks themselves, other travel options such as the metro were a lot more popular, just perhaps because the city and it’s blocks are so huge, and the super block design doesn’t break this up, making pedestrian traveling a lot more daunting. As appose to Amsterdam, which is much smaller in comparison, and breaks up it’s roads a lot more.

    I think maybe because of this Barcelona isn’t quite up there in terms of sustainability yet, the size and scale of the city is actively working against the design efforts. [2] And the city still faces a battle against urban pollution, hence why they recently prevented airport expansions, and threaten to shut out tourists. [3]

    References:

    [1] Lynch, K. (1981) A theory of good city form. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, (1981)

    [2] Arcadis (2019) Sustainable Cities Mobility Index [online] Available at: https://www.arcadis.com/en/global/our-perspectives/sustainable-cities-mobility-index-2017/ [Accessed 19th May. 2020].

    [3] Forbes (2019) Barcelona Is Threatening To Shut Out Tourists [online] Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/alexledsom/2019/07/12/barcelona-is-ready-to-shut-out-tourists/#7f08b1e25546 [Accessed 19th May. 2020].

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Planning and Landscape
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Email: nicola.rutherford@ncl.ac.uk


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