Squaring the Circle: The Urban Metamorphosis for a New Center of Barcelona

Arnau Pascual

Plaça de les Glòries Catalanes appeared for the first time as a square in 1859 in the Cerdà Plan for the Eixample of Barcelona, submitted to a competition for the expansion of the city, which was considered a pioneering project in the evolution of modern urban planning. The plan aspired to design a city through a square block grid, wide streets with integrated services networks (water, sewage system and gas) and green spaces; to give total priority to the citizens in contrast to the unhealthy situation inside the old city walls.

In this case, the square was conceived as the essential core of the urban network, a big rectangular hole of 9 hectares rotated 30 degrees at the intersection of the three main accesses of the city: Gran Via, Meridiana and Diagonal Avenue. An exception to the regular Cerdà Plan that gives an idea of the important character that has always raised this place. Moreover, its original public and political value can be proved by the fact that in 1905, it was proposed to move the city hall and some cultural facilities into the actual location.

During this period, Barcelona was conceived as a fragmented city with independent towns that would be united by the Eixample grid. The square worked as a connection between the northern residential area of Sant Martí and the southern industrial area. The arrival of the railways in 1852 made it impossible to develop the perimeter of the square but improved the industrial consolidation of the surroundings to the point that it was known as “the Catalan Manchester”, with an increase in the number of factories from 57 to 243 between 1860 and 1888. An important labor movement emerged in the area fueled by a solid class consciousness due to precarious working conditions and the shortage of hygiene and education.Full content is available only for registered users. Please login or Register

 


Essay written for the Wahlfacharbeit 14 course during the Spring Semester of 2014, Darch at ETH Zürich. Conducted by Sarah Nichols, former Teaching and Research Assistant, Chair of Prof. Dr. Marc Angélil ETH Zurich 2011-2015.

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