Balmes street, Barcelona, Spain

“It is not how it looks, but how it works”

 Along its four kilometres, Barcelona’s Calle Balmes goes through the districts of Sarriá, Sant Gervasi, Gràcia and the Ensanche, and is one of the main connections between the upper end of the city and its commercial centre.

Although the street has previously been known for its narrow pavements, it has recently been regenerated to give less space to traffic and more to people. This new scenario, geared more towards local shopping and pedestrians, also includes Harpo of European Robinia wood (FSC) chairs. The Harpo family (bench, chair, banquette and table) was designed by Miguel Milá and Gonzalo Milá in response to the tough challenge of conceiving a truly 21st-century urban bench simple to manufacture, easy to transport and install, humble in form, multicultural and very comfortable.

Calle Balmes had also become synonymous in recent decades with a shortage of trees, but this issue has also been addressed by installing the strong, functional Tram cast iron planters designed by Jaume Artigues and Miguel Roig. These planters are high-capacity and provide a twofold value to the street: as well as creating a solid urban boundary between the road and the pavement, they also enable a profusion of plants and shrubs.

Harpo and Tram have therefore brought ornament and functionality together in this project that has made one of the most popular streets in the Catalan capital more human.

Anna Pericás