Barcelona’s Lost Utopia

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Barcelona's Lost Utopia

Surrounding the borders of Barcelona’s old city, the Eixample district is an unmistakable grid of some 900 seemingly similar city blocks master planned by Ildefon Cerda. Characterized by its unique 45 degree cut corners and home to Antoni Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, Casa Mila and Casa Battlo, the area stretches from Mies Van der Rohe’s reconstructed Barcelona Pavilion at the base of Mont Juic to Jean Nouvel’s Torre Agbar at Placa Glories Catalanes.

From above, the density and magnitude of the city-block morphology is an unimaginable exercise in master planning and replication. From within, the uniqueness of each city block is a disorienting yet atmospheric pedestrian experience. The area however, did not develop as Cerda had originally planned. What began as a utopian master plan championing publicly accessible green space has today become an enclosed and privatized neighborhood specifically lacking this publicly accessible green space. While recent efforts have been made to revitalize the neighborhood more in line with Cerda’s initial intentions, the entire implementation of Cerda’s vision is these days wholly impracticable. ….