Plaza de les GloriesSeptember 2001
Barcelona has a unique urban identity due to its role as both a port and the capital of Catalonia. Its different areas have traditionally been organized around open spaces, such as squares and plazas, used by residents for commercial and social activities. The waterfront was traditionally an industrial area. The ground ranges from hilly to mountainous and the city is built on a number of different gradients which, along with the pedestrian character of many of the neighbourhoods (recognised by Cerda in his urban plan in the 1900s), have given the city a very distinctive infrastructure. When roads became a priority in city planning, this had a significant effect on most of the neighbourhoods During the 1920s Plaza las Glorias was one of the last public spaces to be developed as part of Cerda’s Masterplan, opening up much of the site to cars and causing people to migrate away from the site, which created a process deterioration still going on today.
The design intent for this project was to create a third system (based on the first system of Cerda’s plan and the second system that opened up the site to cars) of moving away from the site’s very rigid urban order of the site and reconnect urban centres around and through it. To achieve this, footfall would be enhanced from north west to south east of the site by picking pedestrian flow from the metrol station. New retail spaces would be established, with the flow of people directed an open marketplace. Form and surface would be used to change the existing balance of the axes on the site, enhancing Av. Diagonal and drawing the focus down towards the waterfront. The contours of the ground would be manipulated to shape the space above and through the site. using a malleable surface stretched over the space to create floors and ceilings that would effortlessly connect the different levels of the site. This new topography of creating a landscape within the city would correspond to the mountains and hills around it.