MAIB32 Joan Oliver Library (2013). ArchiTravel.)Photo: Eugeni

MAIB32 Beyond Urban ProjectsJanuary 2018KULMykolas MalskisAnalysis of an Urban ProjectLibrary and Center for the ElderlyBarcelona, SpainThe original design competition proposed a relatively generic administrative office. Once thespatial and social opportunities of RCR’s winning composition were understood, however, theclient agreed that a public amenity would be far better suited. Thus the library now occupiesthe gateway building, setting up complementary social dynamics with the senior citizens’ center,which was part of the initial proposal, at the rear of the courtyard.(Sant Antoni – Joan Oliver Library (2013). ArchiTravel.)Photo: Eugeni PonsINTRODUCTIONSants-MontjuïcCiutat VellaEixampleGràcia Sant MartíLes CortsSarrià-Sant GervasiHorta-GuinardóNouBarrisSantAndreuLOCATIONIn the mid – 1850s, Barcelona was a small, very dense area surrounded by walls (Ciutat Vella).An industrial city that had grown by the huge development of the textile sector. The city hadto deal with the overflowing population, increased epidemics, and a high mortality rate. Theunknown Catalan engineer Ildefons Cerdà proposed a radical expansion plan outside the citywalls called Eixample (‘expansion’).EIXAMPLE DEVELOPMENTPlan of the Eixample development in Barcelona (1859), by Ildefons CerdàEixample is 520 city blocks of parallel and perpendicular lines. The continuity of blocks wasdesigned to eliminate segregation of the neighborhoods. Cerdà invented ‘urbanisation’ – aword (and discipline) that didn’t exist in Spanish or Catalan, nor English or French. Cerdà’splan was a ‘liberation for everyone’. He wanted to create a neighborhood without class divisions.The population would be spread out equally, and there wouldn’t be exclusive areas forthe rich or poor.(Bausells, M. (2016). The Guardian.)Source: Archives of the Kingdom of Aragon, Barcelona/Ministerio de CulturaEIXAMPLE DEVELOPMENT57,200 m³ +29,440 m³ +18,944 m³ +52,864 +18,944 m³ +52,864 m³ +126,323 m³ =294,771 m³From garden to block. The infilling of Cerdà’s Manzana (block)The original plan was to have built up only two sides of the block. The space in betweenthe two sides would have ensured sufficient sunlight and green space. Throughout the years,the development of the city block went in a completely opposite direction. Courtyards wereprivatized – many of which had been filled in to maximize floor space and rents. However,today’s Eixample is turning back towards Cerdà’s original plan. The interiors of the blocks aretrying to serve its citizens as open green spaces once again.PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP: PROEIXAMPLEThe project of the Library and Center for the Elderly serves a new city wide vision of Catalanurbanism, commissioned by ProEixample, a company formed in 1996 to acquire land in blockinteriors for public use. So strong is its motivation, the programme was not even the project’sprincipal driving force. Instead, a break in the continuity of the street generated the project,providing a rare opportunity to fill the gap and give a new use to the courtyard beyond.(Sant Antoni – Joan Oliver Library (2013). ArchiTravel.)1996. 6 courtyards recovered0 1 kmPUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP: PROEIXAMPLEProEixample’s mission was to carry out a revitalization plan in the district to make it moreattractive and improve its residents’ quality of life. The company has begun the recovery ofthe inner areas of blocks to gain new green open space, and the construction of public servicebuildings that, as in this case, work to brake down barriers between different generations, thusencouraging social cohesion.2008. 39 courtyards recovered0 1 kmPUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP: PROEIXAMPLE2011. 53 courtyards recovered0 1 kmPUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP: PROEIXAMPLEPublic accessibility within the radius of 200 m300 m200 m0 1 kmThe main purpose of the public-private company ProEixample, established by Barcelona CityCouncil was recovering the spaces for the citizens and providing at least one of 9 islands withan open courtyard accessible to the public. This means there should be a public space every200 meters.PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP: PROEIXAMPLEAs the Eixample is covering its green courtyards, one of the criteria that are taken into accountwhen deciding between several investment possibilities, is that it acts on the areas where the200 meters goal is not yet met.300 m200 m0 1 kmPriority areas for future developmentSITE PLAN0 200 mSITE PLANSketches: RCR ArquitectesPLOT AREA2177 m²BUILT UP AREA2771 m²FLOOR AREA RATIO1.27COVERED AREA53 %6Building functioningCerdà’s original plan was to use the inner patios as community spaces. However, the courtyardsended up losing their primary purpose. In this context, the community service center ofSant Antoni serves to give back one of these inner blocks to the community and the communityuse that Cerdà’s plan intended.A varied programme of the center activates the open space inside the courtyard. The libraryacts as the door and the main entrance of the center. The center for the elderly at the back ofthe block creates social dynamics with a thematic children’s playground on the patio.BUILDING FUNCTIONING0 10 m104 47 85 5 5LIBRARYBARINTERNET CAFELECTURE HALLWORKSHOPGARDENPLAY ROOMGYMROOF GARDENEXHIBITION ROOM1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10Level -1BUILDING FUNCTIONING0 10 m12 34 5Ground floorLIBRARYBARINTERNET CAFELECTURE HALLWORKSHOPGARDENPLAY ROOMGYMROOF GARDENEXHIBITION ROOM1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10BUILDING FUNCTIONING0 10 m19Level 1LIBRARYBARINTERNET CAFELECTURE HALLWORKSHOPGARDENPLAY ROOMGYMROOF GARDENEXHIBITION ROOM1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10BUILDING FUNCTIONING0 10 m11Level 2LIBRARYBARINTERNET CAFELECTURE HALLWORKSHOPGARDENPLAY ROOMGYMROOF GARDENEXHIBITION ROOM1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10BUILDING FUNCTIONING0 10 m110 1Level 3LIBRARYBARINTERNET CAFELECTURE HALLWORKSHOPGARDENPLAY ROOMGYMROOF GARDENEXHIBITION ROOM1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10BUILDING FUNCTIONINGSection 1-1 0 10 mInner courtyardPhoto: Eugeni PonsBEYOND INNER COURTYARDThe entrance along with the library searches for identification and intersection of green spaceand inner openness. It allows light in between the boxes inserted in the reading rooms andturns the patio entrance into a passage filtered with light like the trees that let light in.BEYOND INNER COURTYARDBEYOND INNER COURTYARDInner courtyard and senior citizens centerPhoto: Eugeni PonsBEYOND INNER COURTYARDChildren and grandparents enjoy the thematic patio – garden spaces. The home creates a realquality closure (like a thick strip that provides clear geometry to space and protects the constructionon the existing ground floors). The closure is facade and not wall, evocative in thatthe emptiness between the edges creates the illusion of a continuously growing green space.BEYOND ENTRANCEEntrance – Library – Inner courtyardPhoto: Eugeni PonsBEYOND ENTRANCEThe library is located in the area corresponding to the access (for a vacant site). The rest ofthe programme adapts in a serpentine way to the interior of the block, leaving a central publicspace. The most important decision for the project to work is to raise the volume of the libraryin the access, thus creating a transition from the street to the central courtyard. It is this visualrelationship from the street that invites one to access the interior of the block.BEYOND ENTRANCERCR simultaneously demonstrates that the function does not make the form and that the designof the place can be accompanied by its more recurrent gestures.BEYOND ENTRANCEFrom the central free space, the building is seen as a base of steel and glass, which seemsoblivious to what happens around it and, nevertheless, it melts and forms part of that environment.EntrancePhoto: Pedro KokBEYOND ENTRANCEREFERENCESFernández-Galiano, L. (2017) RCR arquitectes: complete works 1988-2017. Madrid, ArquitecturaViva.Lee, U. (2007) RCR: Aranda Pigem Vilalta Arquitectes. Seoul, C3 Publishing Co.Pazos Ortega, T. (2014) El patio del Eixample, un espacio público de proximidad. Barcelona,Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya.Bausells, M. (2016) Superblocks to the rescue: Barcelona’s plan to give streets back to residents.The Guardian. Available from: Accessed 21th October 2017.Bausells, M. (2016) Story of cities #13: Barcelona’s unloved planner invents science of ‘urbanisation’.The Guardian. Available from: Accessed 23th October2017.Gregory, R. (2009) Library and Senior Citizens’ Centre by RCR Arquitectes, Barcelona, Spain.The Architectural Review. Available from: Accessed14th December 2017.Sant Antoni – Joan Oliver Library (2013). ArchiTravel. Available from: Accessed 21st October 2017.BCN Map (n.d.) Available from: Accessed 27th October 2017.The Historic Charter of Barcelona. (n.d.) Available from: Accessed14th December 2017.


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