Urban Superblocks: Barcelona Redesign to Reclaim Streets from Cars


Urban Superblocks: Barcelona Redesign to Reclaim Streets from Cars

Web Urbanist

Could 'superblocks' help Barcelona return to its late-19th-century vision of urban utopia, clearing out the snarled streets so mini neighborhood blocks can literally breathe? The rapidly expanding Catalan city was suffocating within its medieval walls before engineer Ildefons Cerdà came up with his controversial plan to tear them down and build a gridded district called Eixample way back in the 1870s. This orderly block-based approach met with a lot of resistance when it was proposed, yet ultimately became model for urbanization before the burgeoning density of the industrial era choked it with cars and filled its air with pollution. 


The plan was for the population to be spread out equally, with green spaces, schools, markets and other necessary neighborhood functions easily accessible from every block. While it did help make Barcelona healthier at the time, each of those tiny streets has been invaded by too many cars for the city to handle, and apartment blocks have sprouted up where parks used to be. Eixample has just 1.85 meters of green space for inhabitant, compared to Amsterdam's 87.5, and the air quality and sedentary lifestyle are leading causes of death. 


More information: Weburbanist.com