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Superquarters as the innovation of Barcelona

Superquarters as the innovation of Barcelona
  • calender 11.04.2017

Quarterly construction in Barcelona began to appear in the XIX century, and until then the capital developed in the middle of medieval walls that surrounded the old city. Subsequently, the space became so small, and the density of the building - so large that the first floors lacked air.

Therefore it was decided to demolish the walls, and to expand the city. Architect Ildefonso Cerda, who explored the streets for a long time, studied the new territory and studied their pros and cons in order to create a city that would "breathe" and not be divided into poor and rich areas. As a result, he developed an area that consisted of a grid, that is, quarters in which the buildings were located along perpendicular lines in the form of squares. However, later on, all roads in these neighborhoods began to be filled with cars, and later, they became so much that all the benefits of quarter-build have gone to the background.



Since 2016, Barcelona has begun to tackle the excessive number of vehicles that cause traffic congestion and pollute the air by building super quarters.


The capital of Catalonia has faced two major problems: high levels of air pollution and noise on the streets. Therefore, a new mobility plan was developed that reduces traffic by 21% and frees about 60% of the city space used by cars, turning it into places for rest and walks of people. The author of the project is the head of the Urban Ecology Agency, Salvador Rueda. In 2016 it was announced that the plan was to be implemented in four years.

It was planned to build low-rise quarter residential areas, where houses should be located one by one per square. One superblock consists of nine smaller blocks. All transport, including the public transport, can move only around the perimeter, cars, serving the small business, taxis, and special services is allowed to drive in the middle, while the speed is limited to 10 km / h. Internal space within the quarters belongs only to residents.


Superblock will be complemented by the building of 300 km bicycle paths and bus network in Barcelona. As a result, any city resident will be located at a distance of 300 m and less from the bus stop at any time, and the waiting time for public transport will be reduced to 4-5 minutes.


As Rueda remarks in his interview, the main goal of such a project is to change the ideology of cities and consolidate the rights of the city walls into public space, as Barcelona in its current form is mobility. The person can only afford to move, but it's difficult to imagine playing children on the streets. According to the project, it is planned to create a pedestrian area on which cafes with terraces, squares with benches for rest and a territory for walks, summer cinemas, and all that can only be wished will be situated.


At present, the city has completed the construction of three super blocks and there is one where traffic was stopped and all kinds of barriers for cars were installed, but there is no infrastructure for pedestrians yet. However, residents of this district are already expressing their dissatisfaction and protest. They say that the superblock turned a car trip into a Kafka nightmare. Due to the redistribution of traffic, the 900-meter trip now tripled in length, and the load on the perimeter has increased.

 Are these considerations rational? In the short-term - yes. However, the situation when it is difficult and long to reach by the car, and the streets for the passage are narrow and there are many obstacles on the way to stimulate people to move on bicycles, walk or use public transport. That in its turn will reduce road loads and reduce the amount of harmful emissions. And this is what they want to achieve with the help of superquarters.

 In those superquarters of Barcelona, the number of pedestrians has increased by 10%, and cyclists - by 30%. The number of cars within the quarters has decreased by 26%, and on perimeter it has increased by 40%. If it spreads to cities by 2018, Barcelona has a chance to get clean, not polluted by harmful air emissions.

Of course, such a scheme makes driving much more complicated and less comfortable, but as a result, the towns receive a clean and safe city with open and accessible leisure facilities.

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