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Barcelona 4 – Glòries Transformation (3)

July 21, 2014

As a junction for traffic and rail, the Plaça de les Glòries Catalanes was a major interchange in the city – but not a great place for people.  Eventually the railways went underground, the roads were elevated, and a park was placed in the centre of a giant roundabout - the view still shown in Google Maps, from above:

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Glories 5

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And on Streetview:

Glories elevated

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It could have been worse:

Glories future

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And it almost was:

Glories past

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Before they came up with this:

Glories roundabout

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And now, as of July 2014, that’s almost gone – another part of the transformation of Glòries.

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Add it to the list of Freeways without a Future – at least in its elevated form, taking up too much public space and deterring the development of too much real estate.  So the city is in the last stage of drilling it apart and pulling it down:

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 Already it’s apparent how much space is now available, unencumbered by concrete:

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What’s to come?  It’s hard to be sure, given the financial constraints and changing plans of the city, but I’ll go with this rendering of 2012:

new-plan-for-glories_www-ara-cat

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Very close to the Cerda vision for the new centre of Barcelona, c. 1860 – a century and a half later.

Centro Comercial Glòries
Centro Comercial Glòries

10,211,325, plus one

July 21, 2014

Count ‘em all.

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Barcelona 3 – Glòries Transformation (2)

July 21, 2014

The Plaça de les Glòries Catalanes is the gateway to one of Europe’s biggest urban regeneration schemes, begun early in this century to revitalize the decayed industrial area of Poblenou.  Spanning 115 blocks, it’s also known as 22@ (more on that later).

On the east side of Glòries, in addition to the Torre Agbar, there is the new BCD, the Barcelona Centre de Disseny (design centre), new parks and open spaces, and the Mercat dels Encants – a flea market whose roots go back to the 14th century.

Though you’d never guess on first impression.

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The new Mercat dels Encants is where you can find vintage clothing, antique furniture, Star Wars memorabilia and just plain rubbish among the bargains.  Go for the architecture – a spectacular canopy in reflective gold glass (see how they did it here) that replaced the old open-air market on another part of Glòries.

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Barcelona loves its traditional markets, the anchors of their neighbourhoods.  There are 10 in the central area alone, 45 throughout the city – many refurbished or rebuilt, some now dominated by tourism and some in tough competitive positions with supermarkets and big boxes.

CCG 4Indeed, less than half a kilometre from Mercat dels Encants is Centro Comercial Glòries - here are your McDonald’s, Starbucks, Disney and several hundred other brand-name stores (plus 3,000 underground parking spaces).

Though opened in 1995, with a facelift since then, it was one of the first shopping centres to have an open-plan design, no surface parking and an internal layout of open-air ‘streets’ that actually connect to the surrounding district (right, click to enlarge).

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Centro Comercial Glòries
Centro Comercial Glòries

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That’s Spain for you – traditional and contemporary in a constant dialogue.

Contest: Best Buildings in B.C. – before Aug 4

July 21, 2014

Still time to enter the Architecture Foundation of BC’s project before nominations (as many as you like) finally close on BC Day (August 4th). 
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Do you have a favourite building in which to work, live, play, or just enjoy walking by? The Architecture Foundation of BC (AFBC) invites you to tell us about it, regardless of its purpose, age or construction. Your nomination could become one of BC’s 100 Best Buildings!

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Nelson

 

Give your favourite building the recognition it deserves:

Click here to submit a nomination, or go to www.BestBuildingsBC.ca.

Then check out the nominations and vote for your picks from each region to make the TOP 100.

 

Your building could win!

Judges will select the top three from each region.

Ohrn Image: Folkies on Wheels

July 21, 2014

Ken Ohrn was checking out the traffic to the Folk Music Festival this weekend:

All the cool folkies are arriving by bike, it seems.  Or at least judging by the bike parking area.   

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 Folk

Barcelona 2 – Glòries Transformation (1)

July 21, 2014

GloriesThe most intriguing transformative project underway in Barcelona that I could find (in a city with an irresistible desire for transformative projects) was the redesign of the Plaça de les Glòries Catalanes (map here, and right) - the junction of three major avenues and Metro station just northeast of the central city.

Only a kilometre from Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, it was intended by Ildefons Cerdà, the urban planner who laid out the Eixample (the extension of the city in the 19th century), to be a large public square.  But historically it was a dreary, sparsely developed outpost – an interchange for road and rail, occupied by parking lots and surrounded by concrete walls.

Nonetheless, you know where it is, as does every resident and visitor to Barcelona.  It’s home to this:

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Agbar

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This is the Torre Agbar, a 38-storey highrise designed by French architect Jean Nouvel in association with the Spanish firm b720 Fermin Vazquez Arquitectos for the offices of the Barcelona water company.  It opened in 2005, a couple of years after the similarly phallic Gherkin in London.  Coincidence, of course.  Nouvel says he was inspired by Gaudi bell towers and geysers spouting from the sea.

Because it stands alone in this district of the city, spectacularly lit at night (one of the first towers to extensively use LED exterior lighting), it is truly a landmark.  And yet, it does not stand alone and isolated in the context of Glòries; there is no vast plaza to set it off.  From the street, it looks like this:

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The site is small, and the footprint of the building even smaller.  It feels like a very large piece of sculpture, and doesn’t take long to walk by.  The walls may be blank, but the whole block is not.

This is only one element in the transformation of Glòries, though the one meant to mark the gateway to a new technological district.  The 2008 crash, of course, delayed everything, but Barcelona continued to develop some other key projects.  As we’ll see.

YVR versus a SkyTrain station: Which has the most traffic?

July 21, 2014

TransLink’s representative for the redesign of the Broadway-Commercial station, Bryan Shaw of AECOM, told the City of Vancouver’s Urban Design Panel, as quoted in NRU:

… the site is quite constricted and yet it must handle more passengers annually than Vancouver International Airport does, or about 115,000 per day

The panel has not been overly enthusiastic about the new design, narrowly supporting it by a 4-3 vote, recognizing that without context, because of unknown zoning in the ongoing Grandview-Woodland plan, it is difficult to design a major station.  More work, say panel members, is needed.  And some wondered if the pedestrian passerelle across Broadway, proposed to be expanded, is still too narrow.

Note the difference in approach to rapid transit versus our commitment of resources to airports, bridges and roads.

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