19 May, 2022
How ‘Superblocks’ will improve living in Barcelona
Barcelona has big plans for the future of the Eixample neighborhood. The city is planning to transform 120 intersections into ‘superilles’ or ‘superblocks’ to get more green zones in the city. Superblocks are a cluster of nine apartment blocks in which traffic will be limited. Barcelona’s city council started this initiative to improve safety, promote community building, and decrease pollution. In total, 21 streets will be remodeled by 2030! This will make investing in apartments in Eixample all the more attractive as the popularity of moving to this neighborhood will rise. If you want to read more about why now is the perfect time to invest in real estate in Barcelona, click here. The urban mobility plan of Barcelona is aiming to create 503 superblocks throughout the whole city in the future.
Why are these superblocks so interesting?
Barcelona as a city is massive, that’s for sure. With approximately 1.7 million people living in the city, it is densely populated. The cosmopolitan city is known for its beautiful beaches, impressive architecture, and rich history amongst other things. It even ranks as one of the best cities in the world for quality of life, equality, and safety.
Barcelona is a vibrant city, but living in such a large city can also have some downsides. Big cities are usually prone to air pollution and Barcelona is no exception. This is not only due to the high buildings and emissions from urban transport, but the city also experiences pollution from ships and port activity. Besides pollution, the amount of traffic and noise can also be a hindrance for the citizens of Barcelona. The streets are busy and full of traffic which results in traffic jams and noise pollution for the people living in that area. These downsides can have some serious consequences for the environment and the citizens of Barcelona. It creates health risks, both mentally and physically, and decreases the general quality of life in the city.
Back when Barcelona was expanding in 1860, Ildefons Cerdà designed a gridded layout for the new neighborhood, Eixample, which means “the expansion”. The gridded layout allows air to flow more freely, reduces air pollution, and helps traffic to flow more easily. Ildefons Cerdà, an engineer and urban planner from Barcelona, was a visionary and one of the first “urban planners” in the world. His design had an incredible impact on the quality of life back in the day and is still noticeable today. Now the municipality wants to try and see how they can make Eixample even more sustainable and further increase the quality of life. They want to implement so-called ‘Superblocks’, or ‘Superilles’ in Catalan. But what are these ‘superblocks’, and what will this entail for Eixample and Barcelona?
The grid layout in Eixample currently consists of small blocks, usually divided by one-way streets. It looks very similar to a chessboard, as can be seen in the picture down below (left). Now they want to cluster a set of approximately 9 blocks together to form superblocks. The streets within these superblocks will be turned into green zones. A superblock looks as shown in the picture below (right).
These Superilles are created with the aim of reclaiming space that is currently occupied by traffic for the citizens of Barcelona. This will create a healthier, greener, and safer public space that promotes community building and the local economy. The urban transformation will allow more space for pedestrians, cyclists, and public transport. The streets will be more accessible and safer and will have more space for public use.
The first superblock in Barcelona was introduced in 1993, near the Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar. In 2014, pilot projects were launched and there was a clear increase in trips by pedestrians and cyclists. Since 2016, Barcelona has implemented six fully functioning superblocks across the city.
If you want to know more about what streets and areas will be transformed, check out the website of the city council of Barcelona.
Building a better city
Creating these superblocks has several advantages for the city and its inhabitants. Loads of asphalt will be replaced by the typical “panot” paving blocks and granite. Greenery will also increase, it currently only makes up for 1% of the street, but it will eventually account for over 14% of the street. This will improve the quality of the air in Eixample. Approximately 450 new trees will be planted, which will also increase the biodiversity within the city.
Nearly 1.000 amenities will be built in the streets, such as benches, seats, playgrounds, etc. and new lighting will be added for safety. This will make the streets much more fun for kids to play on, without parents having to worry too much about the safety of their children. Since lots of streets will not grant access to traffic anymore, this will reduce noise pollution and general emissions of traffic. Of course, local businesses will be allowed to load and unload goods during specific times.
One of the potential problems might be the flow of car traffic, as the passage in these areas will be restricted for private vehicles. Other fears are that the restriction of car flow might affect local businesses. So far, however, none of these fears have been reported as actual problems during the creation of other superblocks in the city. To get a better understanding of what the superblocks will look like, check out this page of the city council of Barcelona. They have amazing renders of what they envision these superblocks to be!
The creation of superblocks has a lot of consequences for the city and its inhabitants, but we definitely think the benefits outweigh the potential problems. These new implementations will create more social cohesion, decrease emissions and noise pollution, and increase safety and biodiversity. Being outside and connecting with others in the neighborhood will become easier and safer. All of these advantages will improve the quality of life for Barcelona’s citizens, specifically in the Eixample district.
Investment opportunities are on the rise, as it is expected that more people will want to move to the Eixample neighborhood. This area will be perfect for families and people looking to escape the busy life of the city whilst still living close to the city center. Check out our sales apartments in Eixample here. If you are interested in renting an apartment in Eixample, you can click here.