Plaça de les Glòries

Barcelona, Spain. 1989-1992

  • Description

    The first time Plaça de les Glòries appears in history is in the Idelfonso Cerdà plan for the extension of Barcelona (1859), where he defines two diagonal axes, criss-crossing in a main square, which was entitled Plaça de les Glòries Catalanes, and was generated by the intention to transfer centrality from west to east. Leon Jaussely's plan from 1905 also proposes Plaça de les Glòries Catalanes as a new center for Barcelona. He made a step forward and proposed the City Hall to be transferred to the area, as well as some cultural facilities. 

    However, in 1989, the Plaça de les Glòries remained an incomplete project and an unresolved problem in the form of a traffic jam. It is one of the major exits of Barcelona, linking the city to the A-19 highway, while the curved railway lines coming from the central station França crossed the area and added conflict. As well, all infrastructure ended before arriving to this area, therefore the design had to address the creation of a public square, the resolution of the traffic junction, and the provision of the area's infrastructure. 
    A primary concern was the resolution of the automobile traffic which had left small interstitial green areas of no value. The layout of the intersection was revised in order to put all these leftovers together in one single plaza. The new junction assumed the form of a double roundabout of the overall dimensions 270m.X235m; a ground level link for the more civic streets which are mainly diagonal and serve local traffic, and an upper link for the main traffic of Gran Via to the A-19 highway.The new junction allows for any movement and the resulting building section provided space which could accommodate parking. 
    The design was seen as not only a traffic junction but as a building, addressing the need for an architecture that could define the domain of the place. 

    The next phase of the project involved the details; the design of bridge supports, the facade, and the interior of this parking area. An architecture with a civic presence throughout was the objective, in order to enframe the final square and its uses. 
    Having resolved the traffic and its junction, parked the cars, created this urban setting, invented the site, the design of the park was commenced. The only reference from history was that this place had been designated as being the very center of Barcelona. However, the idea of placing anything in the center was rejected because it was so well defined by the two diagonals. Therefore a concept emerged out of the idea of emptiness; a design which is based on the astronomical image of a black hole towards which everything converges and on the ever-expanding image of a spiral galaxy. The design of the ground surface consists mainly of grass and stones, while the planting pattern for the trees are modelled on the analogy of stars. Following the emptiness model of the black hole, the very central part, which was supposed to be the core of the city, the new center, was allowed to be empty.

    Finally, attention to the memory of the Glòries Catalanes was addressed through the design of a railing for the square to be supported by twelve vertical elements, huge stone-tablets, engraved with specific memorials. These stone-tablets have lights on top and at the sides which at night throw beams into the sky, activating another experience of this place while driving and viewing the garden through motion. 

    Architects: A. Arriola, A. Juanmartí,  J. Mas, S.Guerrero, P.Sánchez-Contador 
    Traffic engineer: A. Monclús 
    Landscape: B. Figueras
    Structure: J. Rui-Wamba    

  • Images
  • Design process
  • Facts + data

    Promoter: Holding Olímpic S.A.
    Budget: 30.050.605 euros
    Surface: 25.000 sqm