The Superblocks of Gràcia (Barcelona), designed by BCNecologia, win the BMW Initiative Award 2011

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The Superblocks of Gràcia (Barcelona), designed by BCNecologia, win the BMW Initiative Award 2011


The district of Gràcia in Barcelona has won the BMW initiative award for 2011 for their innovative Superblocks (Supermanzanas), designed by BCNecologia (the Urban Ecology Agency of Barcelona). This award recognizes individuals, institutions and companies in the Cataluña region who have launched projects, initiatives, products or services that contribute to a new, more sustainable lifestyle.

The concept of Superblocks was developed by BCNecologia as a way to combat mobility issues in an urban setting. Their objective was to focus on the need for a more accessible pedestrian city and to construct a more sustainable above-ground transport network. The Mobility Plan has increased the availability and accessibility of public space in the District of Gràcia (Barcelona) through the introduction of two Superblocks, drafted by the agency and director Salvador Rueda Palenzuela. Superblocks have introduced a new model of mobility and public space in Gràcia, and have improved the functionality and urban quality of the district.

Superblocks are made up of a grid of basic roads forming a polygon, some 400 by 400 metres, with both interior and exterior components. The interior (intervía) is closed to the majority of motorized vehicles and above ground parking, and gives preference to pedestrian traffic in the public space. In this new scenario, citizens also have access to public green spaces within a walking distance of 200 metres or less. The perimeter, or exterior, of the Superblock is where motorized traffic circulates, and makes up the basic road network.

This project has been a pioneer in building the foundations for the new model of the compact and complex city. The success of its implementation has enabled Superblocks to spread to other, typologically diverse, Spanish cities and districts. The city of Vitoria-Gasteiz was recognized as the winner of the European Green Capital Award for 2012 for their innovative transport network based on Superblocks. Other areas approved for design or construction include A Coruña, Ferrol, Viladecans and El Prat and in other districts of Barcelona, such as the 22@.

The BMW initiative award panel is composed of Sònia Recasens, President of Barcelona Activa, Antoni Giró rector of UPC, Luis Jimenez, general director of the Observatory of Sustainability in Spain, Santiago Benedé, general director of ESADE CREAPOLIS, Louis Lemkow, general director of the Institute of Science and Environmental Technology, and Joaquim Vilà, director of academics at IESE.

The award ceremony will take place on Thursday, November 10 at 20h in the Faculty of Communication at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, in Barcelona. The delivery of the award will be chaired by the second Deputy Mayor of the City of Barcelona, Sònia Recasens, and the President of BMW Group Spain and Portugal, Gernot Volkmer.