PLAZA URQUINAONA RENEWAL, Barcelona

Location: Plaza Urquinaona
Date: April 2006 (Contest), Jan 2007 (Preliminary Design)
Prop. Developer: City Council of Barcelona
Consultants: Teresa Gali (Agricultural and Landscape Engineer)
Area (m2): 17.400 m2
Budget (€): 5.748.960 €

Urqui_planta_021. We describe the site in 9 different manners: 9 variables defining 9 different ways to understand, describe and conceive the public space. Each of the variables coexists with the others and can each generate a project. Therefore, the selection of one or the superposition of two or more overlapping variables will trigger as many projects as the number of variables worth investigating.
2. Through the study of the temporary and shifting use of the public space with ephemeral activities, our project raises the possibility of overlapping two or more temporary states. Thus, we organize an array of items (V6) in which various artefacts and situations are capable of acting as NODS AND VORTEX GENERATORS OF ACTIVITY. Nods are arranged horizontally on a matrix (kiosk, vegetation, shade) to organize the public space around and vertically connect with the underground infrastructure below (V7, stairs, elevators, and skylights).
3. Due to its central location in the city (over an exchange hub) the place is intended for the URBAN NOMAD who occupies the space to then measure it through paths, displacement vectors (V3, V9) between the vertices of the matrix and the development of activities belonging to or connected with these poles (rest after eating, read newspapers, talk on the phone, connect to the internet). We therefore propose to equip the place with a WIFI connection. All these are basic conditions to convert the plaza into a “smooth” space where displacements are free, the pavement continuous, (V5) with small topographic inflections to guide us according to a more GEOGRAPHIC ORIENTATION SYSTEM (north-south, concavity-convexity, diagonal paths) than urban. It is a kind of space hinted in the initial proposal of Cerdà (V1): the “islands of peace” and its connections to the city based on the movement of pedestrians as a protagonist and not a residual actor.
4 The limits drawn all time by the different functioning are at time DIFUSE AND VARIABLE (V8). Pedestrian and Vehicular traffic change according to time and day of the week, opening hours of the subway and newsstand, and in short working hours and leisure of each user. It should be a flexible space able to absorb and reconcile this flexibility in design and schedule of use, the reality of the complex use of the contemporary city.