Within the context of the Superblock programme, green hubs reclaim part of the space currently used up by private vehicles in order to benefit citizens. They constitute a healthy public space where the city is amenable; one that is conducive to social interaction and fosters the local economy. Citizens can enjoy relaxation, water, brightness and greenery, all within easy reach.

The project revamps the original vision from Ildefons Cerdà. Starting with the regeneration of the network of streets, four green hubs have been created with their respective squares where they meet. The project is formed by a total of 21 hubs. Decarbonisation and renaturalisation of the urban landscape places people at the heart of the programme and champions sustainable mobility. A turning point with a crosscutting perspective: one involving urban development centring on ecosystems.

The 21st century Eixample

Barcelona, a compact polycentric city, whose admirable potential is affected by high urban density, scarcity of green areas and unsustainable levels of noise and atmospheric pollution, poses major issues for public health and the environment.

The proposal to form superblocks reshapes the urban landscape in seeking enhanced systemics. Not surprisingly, the first step involves the Eixample district, which heralded the birth of modern-day Barcelona.

The plan for the redevelopment and extension of Barcelona from 1859 was devised by urban developer and engineer Ildefons Cerdà, the forebearer of modern urban planning and a champion of a clean, healthy, egalitarian and connected city model with an abundance of parks and gardens. However, the original spirit with which the blocks of the Eixample were devised suffered changes, a situation made worse by property speculation, which increased the built density within the project fourfold, leading to never-ending traffic and a shortage of open, green spaces.

The Cerdà Plan, conceived in the 19th century, still serves as the guiding model for the city’s development. Today, it is evolving and adapting to tackle modern-day social and environmental challenges. Indeed, the Superblock programme is founded on the core values held by Cerdà – hygiene, equity and transportation – in order to give the urban system an overhaul with a long-term vision; with sustainable mobility being placed at the forefront while bringing its citizens closer to nature.

Humanising Barcelona's public space

Green hubs shape a new kind of street consisting of a single platform with comfortable shaded areas for sitting; accessible places that are amenable to stay in, perfect for meeting, resting and having a leisurely time. The emergence of novel environmental infrastructure shrouds the landscape in trees while the permeable ground – set free from the tarmac – allows for better management of the water cycle and encourages the growth of flora.

The pedestrianisation of roadways invites life into the streets and enhances public space. Thanks to Urbidermis, the host of lighting and furniture elements installed lends priority to public use of these new city arenas.

The lighting plan strives to be spontaneous and variable, breaking away from monotony and inflexibility, thereby adapting to the specific lighting needs of each area. The Arne floodlight fits in and adapts gracefully, bringing a human touch to the light in the project.

One the one side, tall columns with various floodlights have been installed at the crossroads; meanwhile, the thoroughfares and squares are endowed with a more human scale, leading to an intimate interaction between the layers of lighting and the trees. Non-invasive, uniform ambient lighting is provided, showcasing the landscape both during the day and at night.

The Harpo family accompanies citizens in their day-to-day lives. It adds and lends variety to urban furniture, incorporating benches, chairs, stools and tables, elements that are conducive to social interaction. Designed by Miguel and Gonzalo Milá, they are all simple, sturdy and comfortable elements suitable for work, rest and leisure.

Superblocks weave a future for Barcelona, a city determined to become a standard bearer as a balanced, efficient place for citizens which stands out for its biodiversity.