Barcelona as seen from the International Space Station

Barcelona as seen from the ISS (x-post from r:space) [1600x1065]

click to magnify

Barcelona is widely recognized as one of the most successful cities in the world, with it’s urban planning considered one of the best model in the world. The man behind Barcelona’s city plan is Ildefonso Cerdá y Suñer. He was the progressive Catalan Spanish urban planner who designed the 19th-century “extension” of Barcelona called the Eixample.

PortraitIldefonsCerda

Ildefonso Cerdá

The Eixample is characterized by long straight streets, a strict grid pattern crossed by wide avenues, and square blocks with chamfered corners (named illes in Catalan, manzanas in Spanish). This was a visionary, pioneering design by Ildefons Cerdà, who considered traffic and transport along with sunlight and ventilation in coming up with his characteristic octagonal blocks, where the streets broaden at every intersection making for greater visibility, better ventilation and (today) some short-stay parking space. The grid pattern remains as a hallmark of Barcelona, but many of his other provisions were unfortunately ignored: the four sides of the blocks and the inner space were built instead of the planned two or three sides around a garden; the streets were narrower; only one of the two diagonal avenues was carried out; the inhabitants were of a higher class than the mixed composition dreamed of by Cerdà. The important needs of the inhabitants were incorporated into his plan, which called for markets, schools, hospitals every so many blocks. Today, most of the markets remain open in the spots they have been from the beginning.

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