Publisher | The Eixample and the Barcelona of the future

The Eixample, at the time, in 1860, represented a step forward from Barcelona towards modernity. To go beyond the medieval city, overcoming the strict and reduced walled area, the new homogeneous layout that emerged from Pla Cerdà delimited a structure with spaces and buildings that responded to a rational urban grid layout, with the islands and blocks that formed a type of modern city. It should be remembered, however, that the Eixample, an essential brand of Barcelona, was born in the midst of controversy, since the plan finally approved was initially not to the liking of the local authorities. 160 years later, the Eixample is again in the spotlight of a reform that will decide its future after multiple vicissitudes throughout history but which has become an emblem of the city and a unique urban space in the world, due to the harmony it has had between the house it houses a very cohesive social fabric, a century-old trade and services typical of the end of the 20th century.

The circulatory pressure derived from the enormous number of vehicles that transport workers from the metropolitan area who enter and leave each day or simply cross the city, added to the pressure of tourism that has attracted a global trade that creates wealth but breaks the internal balance of these neighborhoods, forces us to rethink both the appearance and the uses of public space in the Eixample. It is Barcelona’s great project, pressured both by the EU sanctions for excessive pollution and by a certain loss of attractiveness as far as investments are concerned. The magnitude of the project makes tensions inevitable, but it has gotten off to a very bad start. In the municipal government itself, divergent options are proposed. On the one hand, the construction of the so-called green axes (until now known as ‘superilles’) to offer more space to pedestrians in accordance with a use plan for the entire district without protecting the needs of those who live in the Eixample, as defended by Barcelona en Comú, and, on the other, the PSC proposal, which wants to limit the reform to certain neighborhoods in response to the various typologies of the area. The new regulation, which will begin in June with some haste and treachery (taking advantage of the tactical urban planning deployed during the pandemic) on Consell de Cent street, and which should end in 2030, far exceeds the mandate of the current mayor, for what should have the maximum citizen and political consensus, which now does not have even remotely. It gives the feeling that what is intended is to get a couple of photos to exhibit in the next election campaign.

Debate and consensus

The district is the most populous in the city (16% of the population is concentrated in it) and the densest, while registering high rates of population aging and of citizens who live alone, with the added problem of huge traffic and the difficulty of coping with increases in rental or purchase prices. The Uses Plan project, which was approved in March, must be debated and agreed upon with citizen and neighborhood entities and with the different political groups. And meanwhile paralyze what is not reversible.

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