BARCELONA: THE CITY OF THE FUTURE
670 points of wireless Internet access. Thousands of sensors throughout the city. Some help save up to 30 percent of the electricity needed for street lighting, others help reduce water consumption for urban needs by 25 percent, and others show drivers where the nearest available parking space is. The plans are to turn 70 percent of the roads into pedestrian zones and reduce the flow of cars by 21 percent, transfer municipal institutions to “green” electricity and break the entire city into super blocks. Barcelona is getting closer to its goal – to become the smartest city on the planet.
Anyone who saw Barcelona from above – for example, from the observation deck of Güell Park – could have noticed the unusual geometry of Eixample, one of the city’s quarters, which owes its appearance to an engineer named Ildefons Cerda. In the middle of the XIX century, when the ancient wall surrounding the old city was decided to be demolished, it was he who was assigned to redevelop the Catalan capital. Cerda studied how much air every citizen needs. I found out what profession they choose. Calculated with mathematical precision, how to make the space of the quarter as convenient as possible for life. This is how the famous “Eixample grid” appeared: houses in the form of square cells with cut corners, thanks to which a lot of light gets into the windows, and transport has more room for maneuvers. Surprisingly, the layout of the quarter, created in the days of horse-drawn carriages, was not outdated in our automobile times. However, in the Catalan capital, the time of cars seems to be running out. If the project to create super blocks, which are promoted by the city authorities, is realized, then almost 70 percent of the roads will be given to pedestrians. In the meantime, the idea of a super quarter is “run in” in the experimental area of Poblenou.
The essence of superkvartala is simple: to combine several quarters-octagons in one large area free from transport, and to adapt empty intersections for playing and cultural grounds, places for political gatherings and markets. Five to six thousand people will live in each super block with a size of 400 by 400 meters.
A non-resident will be able to get into the superquarter only on his own two or on a bicycle. In the experimental area of Poblenou – a square bounded by the streets Tanher, Badajoz, Yakuna and Payars – the car traffic has not yet been blocked, but it has already been made uncomfortable. The first obstacle is the speed limit: ten kilometers per hour. Next, new road markings come into play: the roadway is now twice as narrow as the pedestrian zone. And finally, the most important thing: the area can not be crossed in a straight line. Part of the streets is blocked, and drivers are forced to return to the road around the perimeter of the superkvartala.
It would seem that living in such a super block is just a dream. But the project has already been criticized by the residents of the pilot district themselves, and the rest of the townspeople. Most of all people are unhappy with the speed limit of cars to ten kilometers per hour. “Interestingly, mayor’s office workers ever sat behind the wheel ?! – resent Maria Luisa Martinez, the owner of a small grocery store in Poblenou. – It’s just ridiculous! Children scooter ride faster. Maybe even the jogging will start to be fined? ”
Many generally believe that the city authorities create superquarts only in order to levy fines for speeding, adding to the treasury at the expense of car owners.
Salvador Rueda, the ideologue of the super block, brushes criticism away. This 60-year-old head of the municipal urban environmental agency believes that skepticism is inevitable at the beginning of any unusual project. And he knows what he is talking about. Now Barcelona is one of the most visited cities in the world, and some thirty-five years ago it was a rather dismal place where few people dreamed of settling. But when in October 1986, it became known that Barcelona would host the 1992 Summer Olympics, a real restructuring began in the capital of Catalonia, turning it into a favorite of the public.
In the city, much had to be changed: take the railway off the coast, update the treatment facilities and figure out what to do with the waste, which had previously been sent directly to the sea. Local architects built a new Olympic port, now famous beaches and parks, two skyscrapers, which became symbols of the reconstruction of the city. Now the sports port is a popular recreation area where people walk, drink, eat and dance in discos.