Provisional Urbanization of the Industrial Enclosure at Can Batlló, Barcelona, Spain
Batlle i Roig Arquitectura SLP

The Can Batlló industrial complex is located in the core of Sants-Montjuïc district, in La Bordeta neighborhood. It comprises 9 hectares, which equals a third of the neighborhood’s surface. 
 
The textile industry, which was the economic engine of the area at the beginning of the 20th century, became a problem due to its activity decline in the 70's and generated a great barrier obstructing La Bordeta’s connectivity. 
 
In 2008 a new planning and urbanization project pursuing the sector development (housing, facilities, park, etc.) is commissioned to our studio. However, the impact of the economic crisis stalled the whole process until the 11th of June, 2011, when a local neighbour association broke into the enclosure and organized leisure protest sessions in order to regenerate and recover it. Therefore, Batlleiroig assumed a provisional urbanization project. 
 
The aim was to develop a tactical urbanism proposal that, despite the lack of economic means, achieved a real and tangible change. Hence, we pursued an alternative way to develop the complex, considering the transformative role of highly proactive local entities and movements. The works finished in 2015.
 
Four main objectives were set for this new and recovered public space:
 
Establish a circuit structure. Based on the street network of the old industrial centre, make possible the conversion of an old barrier into a key passageway within the neighbourhood’s connectivity, enhancing pedestrian and cycling circulation.
 
Maintain and enhance the existing vegetation and habitats, generated during the abandonment of the site. Start the renaturalization of the sector by introducing new vegetation, mostly linked to existing buildings, in favour of its biodiversity improvement.
 
Improve the water dynamics promoting sustainable drainage. Increase the permeability of the ground in order to improve the water infiltration within the terrain. Conduct runoff water by means of ditches and canals to new retention and infiltration areas located at the low points of the sector, which will allow the development of other types of vegetation.
 
Promote new possibilities for ordering and using the sector enhancing its activation through local organizations. Currently, public spaces foster urban gardens, dog gardens, basketball and football courts, polyvalent areas to host local festivities, rest & shaded areas as well as green areas and flowerbeds that help improve the biodiversity of the site.
 
Little over a year passed and successful development can be observed. A wide range of sheds are again active after many citizen initiatives were launched. Libraries, an auditorium, a bar and several workshops have been implemented.  
 
The opening and provisional urbanization of the industrial site of Can Batlló has enhanced a process of recovery of the site as a public space. It has become a main center of leisure and activity within the District of Sants-Montjuïc. The walls and fences have fallen improving the neighborhood’s overall connectivity. In addition, the architectural heritage is guarded due to its reuse for recreational and cultural uses during this transitory situation. In a nutshell, a great barrier becomes one of the neighborhood’s main assets as a civic engine.
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