Sanjay Gangal is the President of IBSystems, the parent company of AECCafe.com, MCADCafe, EDACafe.Com, GISCafe.Com, and ShareCG.Com.
Squares In Puigcerdà, Spain by Pepe Gascón
April 20th, 2011 by Sanjay Gangal
Remodelling of the most central and relevant public space in Puigcerdà, originally very much deteriorated, with an excessive amount of traffic that diminished the civic and integrating potential of the space.
Traffic is eliminated, concentrating road and service communication on one side, freeing up a large central space. Two large linear flowerbeds protect the pacified area from the bustle of traffic working as filters between the two. A number of elements of street furniture simultaneously emphasise the physical and visual limit of the squares themselves. The space, which is very irregular with a highly uneven perimeter, is geometrised and arranged using granite as the sole material for paving, as a support of the different uses and distinguishing the areas with different formats, weaving a tapestry of great expressiveness. The lighting and urban furniture elements are arranged in line with the directrices marked by this area. Now the squares are conceived as a space conducive to rest and encounters, that allows the surrounding architecture to be heard, the chorus of traditional buildings the squares have as a backdrop.
The town centre was in a state of serious decline, presenting the general symptoms of neglect: its squares, as well as the streets in its old quarter, were unable to function properly due to the overwhelming presence of vehicles, which stifled the civic potential and the harmonious qualities of the space.
In the squares to be reformed, the prevailing clutter of the outdoor areas of the commercial premises at street level, with their awnings and sunshades in multifarious arrangements, forms, sizes and colors, together with the mismatch of their various pavings, went so far as to make it difficult to gain access to certain spots due to the badly resolved steps and other changes in level, heightening the overall sense of confusion.
The effect of this was to dilute any perception of the public space by impeding a unified vision of it.
PURPOSE OF THE INTERVENTION
DESCRIPTION OF THE WORK
This large central area is linked to a smaller space situated around the bell tower, enhancing its presence and defining it as the location of a stage during festive celebrations. A children’s play area with swings, etc. was created at the north-east end of the squares.
The work had to be conducted at ground level due to the existence of an old cemetery in Plaça dels Herois, which prompted the design of two large beds for plants running lengthwise – each of them dubbed a ‘natural meander’, the project’s motto – and slightly raised so that they could be filled with sufficient earth for planting trees in.
Each stretch of the meander folds back on itself, embracing distinctive spots, such as the array of benches positioned so that people can sit in the shade and enjoy the view into the square. Other areas include the various underground bins and banks for recycled waste and the loading and unloading parking places on the outer edge of the square.
The continuity of the meander is interrupted by transverse side entrances that facilitate access to the squares and connect them with their immediate surroundings.
The space, which is very irregular in shape and which has a strongly marked perimeter, is geometrically structured and arranged through the use of a single material for the paving (granite) throughout the squares, the various areas within them being distinguished by distinctive formats:
All the lighting elements and street furniture are arranged in accordance with the lines established by the stretch of paving.
It is a public space that is open in character and hence allows for flexibility. The harmonious integration of the squares is achieved through simplicity, coherence and formal essentiality.
The squares are now seen as a properly appointed place that encourages people to enjoy a quiet moment and to meet up with others; a peaceful space that allows the architecture of their surroundings to speak, the choir of traditional buildings that serve as their backdrop.
The new squares have filled the town centre with life and the municipal authorities are now in the process of remodeling the remaining squares and streets that make up the old quarter, following the same approach with regard to forms and materials as in this intervention.
Contact Pepe Gascón
Category: Public Landscapes
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