If there is one city that portrays connectivity as a key to good urban design, it is Barcelona, Spain. In my first visit to the city in the Fall of 2009, I was blown away by how well organized the city and its layers were. By far, it is my favorite city I have visited and a beautiful example of the synergy between society and urbanity. One of the hundreds of site to visit in Barcelona is Parc Central de Nou Barris.
Mainly designed by Carmen Fiol, a Landscape Architect/Architect based out of Barcelona, it is located towards the northeastern border of Barcelona by Placa de Karl Marx; an area that in previous years had lost much identity and lacked the language that the rest of the city had developed.
Parc Central de Nou Barris is the best example of inter-textual design I have seen. Based on cubist theory, the park slices and intersects through various sectors of Barcelona’s northeastern end. This is made possible through the reproduction of the triangle in various forms and scales. Triangular adaptations weave and overlap creating definitive spaces throughout the park, while maintaining a consistent overall form and language. The most unique aspect of Fiol’s design is the fluidity from concept to reality. In a landscape, the ability to translate an inter-textual concept in to a built form that successfully addresses urban connectivity and sense of place, to me, is a very hard feat.
The park works in two forms, as a gateway to each individual neighborhood it touches and as a functional park. Each sector of the park reflects the needs and common uses of the surrounding context; i.e. playgrounds by the more family oriented housing, large open seating by commercial connections, outdoor amphitheaters and fountains by community centers.
Each of these spaces and elements are uniquely designed, however, they all carryout the same language through form, material, or scale with an underlying tone of Barcelona’s playfulness.
Its function as a gateway comes primarily from a series of fan like, over-scaled sculptures. “Points in Space”, recently an emphasis by one of my professors, the sculptures are the identifying element to the park. From each connecting neighborhood, these “fans” are found in varying groups and scales; their form being unique and scale memorable. It is this feature that creates a union of this area of Barcelona and allows it to communicate with the rest of the city.
The details of this park dare to inspire and are worth writing a whole separate article about. However, my intent in this review is to emphasize the beauty of the overall cohesive design and its ability to create an elegant relationship and character to this area of the city. To me, this is the main purpose of design; it is easy for designers to get caught up within their own creations and lose sight of simply creating spaces for people and society. Parc Central de Nou Barris sits firmly on this notion and is well worth a visit and analysis.