Last 20th of June the Poblenou Superblock received a special mention at the European Prize for Urban Public Space. This competition underlines the importance of public space as a catalyst of urban life, and aims to bolster public investments in its conservation and improvement.
The “ Superblocks Program 2016-2019” has been implemented by the City Council to reduce the space occupied by the private vehicle so as to favor pedestrian surface, bicycle lanes and network of fast bus lanes. The first pilot project called Poblenou Superblock is located in the Poblenou neighbourhood, of the Sant Martí district, a former industrial zone.
The Poblenou Superblock is a wide area, delimited by Badajoz, Pallars, La Llacuna and Tànger streets. The plan designed large interstitial pedestrian areas, vehicles can access to all buildings but they are obliged to move more slowly and to take roundabout routes.
The pilot project has been developed in two successive stages. The first one has been conceived by several students in architecture : temporary signs were painted on the ground, provisional elements of street furniture were placed, trees planted in mobile containers were scattered in the pedestrian streets.
Residents have found their feet which gave rise to children’s playgrounds, sports areas, picnic and ping-pong tables, meeting spaces, literary tours and temporary markets. the second stage, initiated in autumn 2017, has consisted in consolidating the intervention on a permanent basis by means of conventional civil engineering work.
In total, public space for pedestrians has increased by 13,350 square meters in the Superblock. The number of vehicles circulating in the inner streets has dropped by 58% which of course increased the traffic in the four roads around the perimeter by 2.6%. Daytime noise levels have dropped by an average of five decibels which is good news as the noise once exceeded the WHO’s noise exposure limits. In addition 212 new trees were planted, and open-air cultural activities have multiplied.
As the streets of the Poblenou Superblock are calmer and less noisy, the value of the houses and apartments located in the superblock are moving on. The extension of green spaces increases commercial rents and property prices. The new quality of life appeals to newlyweds and families who look for a calm and safety place to live.
The Poblenou pilote project has given rise to a magical renaissance of urban life, if you take a walk in the Superblock, you will see free-range kids, families and locals enjoying the new car-free spaces.
As Barcelona continues to create pedestrianized zones, residents choosing to walk rather than use transport will allow the government to prioritize their people rather than cars in the future making for healthier, and happier Spaniards. What do you think about the city ‘s new charm, would you wish for more extended superblocks in Barcelona ?