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Barcelona's Long-Term, Pedestrian-First Plan Continues with the 'Barcelona Superblock'

Mayor Ada Colau announced the next step in Barcelona's plan to convert the city center into a "new city for the present and the future."
November 15, 2020, 7am PST | Lee Flannery | @leecflannery
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Coronavirus and Urbanism

In Barcelona, plans have been announced to create a 21-street vehicle-restricted 'superblock' in the Eixample district of the Catalan capital. The plan, announced by Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau is part of a larger vision to transform the city's central grid into a pedestrian-first network of tree-filled, car-free blocks and plazas. 

Feargus O'Sullivan's article shares details from Mayor Ada Colau's announcement: "These squares and streets will be planted with trees that will shade 6.6 hectares (16 acres) of new green space when mature, in a zone that will contain an extra 33.4 hectares of pedestrian space. With work beginning in 2022 to a budget of 38 million euros ($45 million), the plan represents one of the most thorough revamps of a major European city so far this century." 

Proponents of the plan brace for resistance from motorists who have protested similar plans that included restrictions on motor-vehicles. The city also anticipates "the project will probably prove more difficult to implement than those installed in quieter areas. While bustling parts of the city have been given the superblock treatment before — the current plan will extend from a smaller existing superblock around the Sant Antoni covered market — they have never extended for as great a distance as the new zone," writes O'Sullivan.

Barcelona officials will hold a competition in May 2021 to decide the design of the Barcelona Superblock.  O'Sullivan's article lays out the specific requirements for designs submitted to the competition, including 80% of street shaded by trees in the summertime and 20% permeable surfaces on streets.

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Published on Wednesday, November 11, 2020 in Bloomberg CityLab
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