[Urban planing] Barcelona Expension / Ensanche, Eixample Barcelona 2

 The "Proyecto de Reforma y Ensanche" ('project for the remodelling and expansion') of Barcelona. 1859 The United States Declaration of Independence, the leading theories of the French Revolution, and the various Utopian movements all left their mark on Cerdà's ideas. The criteria and objectives of his project for Barcelona are totally imbued with humanism, while his praxis is founded essentially on equality, liberty and social cohesion. In short, his goal is a "egalitarian" city. He also seeks to strike a balance between the values of the city and the advantages of the countryside: "Ruralize the urban, urbanize the rural" is the opening message of his Teoria General.

 Cerdà strives in other words, to give the "contents" (the people) priority over the "container" (the stones or gardens). Form is a mere tool, albeit a very important one, whereas in most plans it is veritable obsession and often plays an over-decisive and even preponderant role. Cerdà's magic consists in conceiving a city on the basis of its dwellings. The privacy of the home is an overriding consideration, though in an
age of large family units (three generations) it might be considered Utopian to aim at freedom for each family member. To Cerdà the ideal dwelling is the detached house in the countryside.

 However, the enormous advantages of the city make it necessary to achieve compactness by designing housing that fits into tall, multi-family buildings. Such housing, moreover, needs a carefully planned layout featuring a twofold system of ventilation, from the street and the courtyard in the centre of the block. And each unit must enjoy the gentle warmth of the sun. Cerdà's primary classification of land into vies and intervies (the blocks or areas lying between them) is his second great contribution. The thoroughfares are the public spaces for mobility and encounter. Utility distribution networks (water, sewers, gas, etc.), trees (over 100,000 trees in the streets), lighting and urban furniture are also located there. The blocks (100x100 m) are the spaces for private life, with two rows of multi-family housing overlooking an inner courtyard from which all (without exception) receive sun, daylight, ventilation and joie de vivre, as the hygienist movements demanded.

 Circulation is organized on the basis of a homogeneous, orthogonal street system which creates a deliberately egalitarian and functionally efficient city. Cerdà did not invent the gridiron plan, which is the Eixample's identifying trait. He did rationalize it, however, in an attempt to prevent the effects of land speculation or the ignorance of
the settlers. To consider the regular street layout as his sole or most important contribution is more than an error: it is an insult. His street system creates a cohesive, well articulated, homogeneous city. It provides a stable framework to a variety of buildings of different heights and depths. The Catalan writer Josep Pla defined the Eixample as "chaos on a chessboard" and it is precisely this interface between chaos and order which generates and maintains life.

Link for Hostory of Barcelona Eixample (Ensanche, Expension)


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