Urban renewal in Barcelona’s Nou Barris district

Urban renewal of a deprived district in Barcelona focussing on public space to construct a collective sphere and improve local connectivity.

Project start date: 1984
Project end date: 2011
Covering city: Barcelona, Nou Barris district

Summary

Since Nou Barris became (in 1984) an administrative District with a certain self-autonomy, it undertook a series of urban renewal actions which focused on public space. Urban renewal was badly needed for the multi-ethnic, vulnerable and deprived area. The urban renewal interventions, undertaken between 1984-2010, focused on public space and facilities:

  1. creating and improving public spaces, for instance parks;
  2. programming public facilities to promote social diversification: a big public library, civic centre, local healthcare centre and sports facilities;
  3. metropolitan integration through public transportation and improving road system;
  4. improving dwelling conditions through specific renewal programmes. Currently, the Nou Barris urban renewal is regarded as source of inspiration for other renewal activities in Barcelona.

Issue

Nou Barris is a district on the former outskirts of Barcelona on the steep hillsides. Its precarious urban space (high-density  housing, disjunctive pattern of streets, chaotic/sprawling mix of buildings and all kinds of small business and parking places on abandoned lands), the physical isolation experienced (from the city centre) by the residents and the risk of marginalisation called for urgent actions. Furthermore, the district inhabited a diverse and vulnerable population (working class, elderly (form previous migration in the 1950s/60s), Roma, and more recently: migrants from Romania, Ukraine, Ecuador, Philippines etc.).     M

Approach

From a sense of urgency were various interventions undertaken by the administration of the city/district, but not on the basis of a comprehensive plan. The actions, although they were coherently implemented, didn’t refer to a general planning framework that programmed them over time and displayed them together in a final scenario.
This contrasts with current well planned urban renewal interventions in Barcelona. However, the strategic guidelines developed during the interventions in Nou Barris now constitute a basis for the well planned urban development in other areas.

Results

One of the most remarkable projects was the construction of one of the parks, Parc Central de Nou Barris, reclaiming a neglected urban space into a large urban park as recreational facility and meeting place, and at the same time connecting the district with the city centre. It is an award-winning park: in 2007, it won the International Urban Landscape Award. The Nou Barris urban renewal is generally regarded as a success in Barcelona. The quality of life has improved, thanks to physical upgrading, improved connectedness, and the various green places and public facilities. It is considered in Barcelona as a paradigm of urban renewal, because the interventions integrated both physical and social aspects.

Resources used:
Investment of the City Council of Barcelona and the Autonomous Government of Cataluña
Beneficiaries: Residents of district and city
EU involvement: No EU involvement
Organisation: Municipality Barcelona, District District Manager's Office
Contact person: Juan Carlos Altamirano
Function: District manager Nou Barris
Phone: + 34- 93 291 68 00
E-mail:rcanovas@bcn.cat