years ago we consider it appropriate to reform some streets of the Eixample to increase spaces for pedestrians given the lack of green areas in relation to the rest of Barcelona. The Eixample was the object of operations to achieve that objective. Let us remember those of Mistral Avenue, Plaza and Rambla de Catalunya, Roma Avenue, Enric Granados, Lluís Companys and Sant Joan avenues; These, together with the blocks for pedestrians in the historic centers, were well accepted by the citizens. Often, the announcement of the reforms generated the opposition of merchants or the RACC, which interpreted them as an attack against the private car. Despite this, the city was recovering relationship spaces normally, after years of densification and the desire for real estate capital gains.
For this reason, the opposition of some groups is surprising, placing the recovery of public use as an attack on the general structure of the Cerdà plan. Affirming that the projects intend to “finish, even physically demolish, the structure designed in its day by Ildefons Cerdà”.
It is paradoxical to vindicate the structure of the Cerdà plan after years of systematic adulteration, of the loss of a thousand hectares of green area or of quadrupling its initial density. All with an urban policy that affected the activity from continuous changes in use from residential to tertiary, the breaking down of typologies, densification, the suppression of green areas or facilities.
We vindicate Cerdà but we forget his hygienist will, to ensure equality of access in free space and increase the life expectancy of the population. This was the structural element of the Cerdà plan, above the circulatory model. It is not credible that Cerdà would oppose the recovery of public space today, even if it were to turn into promenades what until now had been devoted to vehicles.
The concern for the urban structure of the Eixample is logical given its attractiveness for economic operators. It is clear that this fact affects life in the Eixample and is evidenced by the voracity of investment funds, tourist accommodation, the permissiveness to rent rooms as seed rooms for clandestine pensions. Therefore, the substantive of the urban structure is to ensure an acceptable level of quality of life, preserving housing and betting on a tourism and a leisure that ceases to be the cause of the nightmare and to affect the health of citizens.
What has been said justifies the convenience of reclaim public space but this does not mean that we do not consider it useful to consider the responsibility of municipal managers in relation to the misunderstandings that the issue has caused. From the outset, we must note the desire for urban significance based on the instrumentalization of the theory of ‘superblocks’ stripping it of its content to turn it into a mere circulatory model and an advertising slogan of everything that is done in the city.
This simplification contradicts its very essence, since it obviates its open, generic and reflective character, with the horizon of search for a sustainable city. The value of activities and social interconnection, compactness, biodiversity, complexity and social mix, energy efficiency and environmental commitment. His holistic vision offered a good number of indicators that prepared cities to face environmental challenges of our time. A useful planning instrument, both at a programmatic level, when dealing with new settlements, and for analysis when defining strategies in consolidated cities.
With the elections approaching, the slogan ‘superblocks Barcelona’ leads all the actions without anyone explaining its meaning. Even in those that are contrary to the theory itself, such as the solution finally adopted for Carrer Pi i Margall and how it could be the one decided for Ronda de Sant Antoni.
This simplification excludes the possibilities derived from a global approach to a sustainable future, in matters linked to the ecosystem, such as energy efficiency, the water cycle, the materiality of urbanization, biodiversity or urban biological continuity. The discussion of these and other questions, from scientific and professional positions, would allow overcome the current stage of generic definitions, very intentional, that often accompany mere activism.