Under-used Urban Parks in Barcelona

As everyone warms up for the first of week of the spring semester, I wish to share some interesting observations from the winter break trip. Along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, Barcelona is known for its lively urban-scape, and has undergone successive urban renewals over the past century. The introduction of wide boulevards and pedestrian-friendly environments has transformed the city into an urban playground.

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(La Rambla)

Having heard much about the urban parks that were recently developed along the coastline by a slew of star-architects, I decided to experience these spaces first-hand over the weekend. While some parks were attracting people to come jogging, biking, skateboarding and enjoying the sun, others such as the Diagonal Mar Park designed by EMBT and S-E Coastal Park by FOA were sadly underused.

As part of a larger urban initiative to redevelop the post-industrial landscape into the Forum Barcelona district, EMBT transformed a former disused factory site into a 14-hectare park that complemented a recent developed mixed-use community in Diagonal Mar. Surrounded by residential apartment buildings, office buildings and a shopping mall, the park had the perfect location to serve a vibrant community. However, the park suffered from insufficient maintenance, and very few people occupying the vast green spaces offered by park.

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(The center of Diagonal Mar Park where little water left in the pool.)

Cold weather aside, it was the segmentation of the park spaces that contributed to its low occupancy. Overall, the park is divided by a private roadway and a car road, thereby defining 4 programmatic zones: a public playground and 3 gated, but connected strolling landscapes. To a certain extent, it defeats the purpose of forming a collective space at the center of the district as it creates a disjunctive walking experience across the park. Furthermore, the public facilities are either too close or segregated from the circulation passages. There are kid’s slides right on the edge of the pathway, which make it uncomfortable for both the kids and the pedestrians.

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(Public facilities in Diagonal Mar park were seriously underused.)

It was around sunset when I headed over to S-E Coastal Park. Passing by some playgrounds packed with teens skating, biking and running after each other, I was shocked by the emptiness of S-E Coastal Park, which supposedly terminated the stretch of the coastal park. Since there were no clear indications of the potential use of the park other than the giant amphitheater, I felt clueless walking across the barren pathways, as I did not know where I could stop and enjoy my time in the park.

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(S-E Coastal Park by FOA)

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(The tiles on the ground cracked all over the places)

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(Many thanks to Pak Kin Chan for the contribution to the post)

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