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An idea for a green district of Barcelona. PWr students won an international competition!

30 of August '23
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  1. Students from Wrocław University of Technology, Sebastian Kawalec and Michał Wąsik, have won the international Reinventing Cities competition organized by C40 Cities.
  2. Their project concerns the transformation of Barcelona's Ciutat Meridiana neighborhood, focusing on urban, environmental and social aspects.
  3. The district is struggling with isolation, lack of infrastructure, low education and unemployment.
  4. The project involves comprehensive revitalization, including the creation of a community center, a new aqueduct, green roofs, walking paths and parklets for growing plants.
  5. The proposal won first place due to its integrated socio-environmental solutions, taking into account the needs of residents and environmental protection.
  6. For more interesting information, visit the home page of the A&B portal.

Sebastian Kawalec and Michał Wąsik from Wrocław University of Technology designed the transformation of Barcelona 's Ciutat Meridiana neighborhood and won the international Reinveinting Cites competition organized by the global organization C40 Cities! Their project focuses on comprehensive solutions and their phased implementation and was divided into three aspects: urban, environmental and social.

Reinventing Cities is an international competition that aims to accelerate the decarbonization and revitalization of cities around the world.

In this competition, selected cities from around the world select neighborhoods that need to be transformed and invite creative, multidisciplinary teams to submit proposals that will serve as a model example of revitalization. This year, participants have a choice of cities such as Auckland, Barcelona, Bologna, Bristol, Cape Town, Chicago, Houston, Izmir, Lyon, Madrid, Miediolan, Montréal, Naples, Oslo, Paris, Phoenix, Reykjavík, Rome, San Francisco, São Paulo, Singapore. The call for projects for some cities is still open, you can find the list and guidelines on the Reinventing Cities competition website.

Pomysł na dzielnicę Barcelony, analizy

Barcelona neighborhood idea, analysis

© Sebastian Kawalec, Michał Wąsik

changes in Barcelona

Wrocław University of Technology students Sebastian Kawalec and Michał Wąsik have taken on the challenge of Barcelona and its Ciutat Meridiana neighborhood. The 35.5-acre district borders the Serra de Collserola Natural Park, the Torre Baró and Vallbona neighborhoods, as well as the Montcada and Reixac municipalities. The area is mainly occupied by multi-family residential buildings, and its location at the foot of the mountain has had a significant impact on layout, accessibility and mobility. Residents of the neighborhood face problems such as isolation from the city, lack of amenities and adequate infrastructure and clearly defined public spaces, unemployment and low levels of education.

The organizers expected such solutions for the neighborhood as multifunctional use of the space using solutions that will boost the local economy, the introduction of proposals that will create employment, integrated spaces that will enhance neighborhood ties, and an opening to the Collserola Natural Park and a better connection to the city center.

Pomysł na dzielnicę Barcelony, plan i podział na obszary

Barcelona neighborhood idea, plan and zoning

© Sebastian Kawalec, Michał Wąsik

victory of the polish team

The submitted works were evaluated by a jury consisting of Aida Mas Baghaie (Thriving Cities Initiative | C40 Cities), Laia Grau Balagueró (Ajuntament de Barcelona), Areti Markopoulou (IAAC Barcelona), Amadeu Santacana (Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura del Vallès), Anna Terra Sans (Ajuntament de Barcelona).

First Prize went to a team from the Wrocław University of Technology, under the direction of Dr. Marzena Heliak-Rużyla. As the jury's justification reads:

The winning proposal reimagines the Ciutat Meridiana neighborhood in a comprehensive way and proposes viable solutions at different scales, addressing social, economic, architectural and environmental issues. In particular, the project focuses on reclaiming the aqueduct as an important part of the neighborhood's identity, connecting it to the train station, and creating a green corridor. The authors also created a community center that combines environmental activities and community gardens, and prioritized residents by designing architecture with better insulation and soundproofing.

Pomysł na dzielnicę Barcelony, wprowadzone rozwiązania

Barcelona's neighborhood idea, solutions introduced

© Sebastian Kawalec, Michał Wąsik

three aspects of the project

Sebastian Kawalec and Michał Wąsik divided the work into three important aspects: urban, environmental and social. The urban design involved the reuse of undeveloped land and land earmarked for inefficient community use. In their concept, for example, they proposed dedicating the previously unused northern area of the district to sheep grazing. To do this, they decided to plant edible plants for the animals and create outbuildings. This phase also included the creation of walking paths.

Nowy, zielony akwedukt

new green aqueduct

© Sebastian Kawalec, Michał Wąsik

The students earmarked the empty land between the aqueducts for a new cultural center with workshop rooms and an observation deck. They also decided to build a new Green Aqueduct, which will connect the historic aqueducts and strengthen neighborhood ties by creating recreational areas. The area of the existing recreational park, which is covered with impermeable pavement, will be converted into biologically active material, and will be a link between the urbanized part of the development and the Serra de Collserola Park, which is listed in the Natura 2000 register. In subsequent phases, the authors envisaged planting trees and shrubs, as well as purchased equipment for field sports.

Budynki zyskają zielone bufory

The buildings will gain green buffers

© Sebastian Kawalec, Michał Wąsik

introduction of greenery

The environmental part of the project was also divided into several stages by the authors: they assumed surrounding the buildings with greenery (around the apartments they propose introducing balconies with greenery buffers), in order to minimize the negative effects resulting from the close proximity of highways and railroads. They transformed the roofs of residential buildings into green roofs or retention basins. The students assume that in the final stage of revitalization, all buildings will have biologically active roofs, and the number will be respectively: 48 green and 18 water.

Meanwhile, to make the district more attractive to tourists, the route between the green aqueduct and the train station will be transformed into a pedestrian path excluding vehicles and planted with flowers. Additional treatments will include themed plantings between blocks and by the escalators.

Pomysł na parklet

parklet idea

© Sebastian Kawalec, Michał Wąsik

community integration

The social aspect takes place at the level of the individual and the community as a whole, by jointly initiating solutions at the community center, which will later be implemented on the estate—there will be a prototype parklet, as well as workshops on plant cultivation and on environmental protection and sheep farming.

The social link between the estate and neighboring areas will be paths, which will also connect other sites on the estate. Spaces between blocks will be filled with parklets for growing plants. The first of these will be built in the center, and will be located right at the entrance to the estate. In the end, the students planned that 43 facilities will be built on the estate.

Also read about the transformation of the area along the Odra River in Wrocław into a green, friendly space for residents, by Dominika Bednarek and Magdalena Zając.

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