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Active Public Space:

The Superblock case study

Barcelona is a city with an innate desire to be at the forefront of innovation in terms of urban planning and development. Considered by many not only as the birthplace of urbanism but also as an on-going laboratory for innovative urban solutions, the city has done much over the past three decades to reshape its public space. The interventions in the historic city center, waterfront and suburbs have made Barcelona renowned for its global approach to urban regeneration. These programs have transformed Barcelona from an industrial-type city to a tertiary and leisure center, creating a model for the whole of Europe. Now the city has embraced the potential of technology as a means of once again being at the forefront of innovation. Barcelona was the first city to become the European Capital of Innovation in 2014, an award also known as the “iCapital” of Europe, "for introducing the use of new technologies to bring the city closer to citizens". This opens up the debate of how advanced technologies can help enhance existing public space, foster creativity, exchange, and citizens’ participation, in terms of both the design and use of public spaces. Within this framework, one of the more recent projects being developed in Barcelona is the SuperBlock, known in Catalan as the Superilla, or Superilles. The SuperBlock is an urban regeneration tool of the overall Barcelona land-use plan developed by the Agencia de Ecología Urbana de Barcelona within the framework of the Barcelona 2013-2018 Urban Mobility Plan. The plan aims to close two thirds of Barcelona’s streets to traffic, a need prompted by the high levels of traffic pollution. More specifically, the SuperBlock consists of a 3x3 grid of urban Cerdà blocks where (reduced speed) traffic will be limited to residents and local businesses, leaving most of the city’s traffic outside the SuperBlock perimeters. The program will create new pedestrian areas and consequently...

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