Barcelona’s Las Ramblas to Undergo Transformation to Accommodate 10 Million Visitors
- Client: City of Barcelona
- Date: 2022
- Location: Barcelona
- Sector: Cities
- Investment: €44.5 million
Located in the heart of Barcelona, Las Ramblas is undoubtedly one of the most iconic streets in the city, a public space where people to come together and socialise as the heart of the city. However, this 1.2-kilometre boulevard is often overcrowded, teeming with tourists and locals, and needs a much-needed facelift. In 2022, the city of Barcelona embarked on an ambitious plan to transform Las Ramblas, providing more space for pedestrians and allowing residents to reclaim the area for their enjoyment. The project involves reorganising traffic zones, adding green spaces, and reopening heritage and cultural facilities, such as the Principal Theater, while preserving the historical essence of the area.
Catalonia’s Urban Planning Commission granted the Project the green light in October 2022; however, the renovation is a complex undertaking. The street’s many terraces, kiosks, and stops present a unique challenge for revitalisation. Additionally, there are up to 19 different types of poorly organised and inefficient lighting fixtures, the central walkway’s tiles are mostly broken, the heritage trees have suffered significant damage and require specific attention for recovery, with water leaks close to Metro Line 3.
The renovation has a total budget of €44.56 million and will be carried out in stages, with the first stage expected to take 18 months. The ultimate goal is to promote local commerce and tourism while preserving the cultural and historical heritage of Las Ramblas.
Ayesa is part of a team of experts assigned to revamp Las Ramblas, a famous street in Barcelona that receives over 100 million visitors yearly. The project is essential to Catalonia’s urban landscape due to its social, commercial, and tourist significance. The KM-zero consortium, consisting of Ayesa, Espinas I Tarrasó, Lola Domenech, Itziar Gonzalez, and Arnau Boix, is responsible for creating the action strategies, preliminary and urbanisation projects, and works direction to develop the final Construction Project. The project involves expanding the sidewalks to almost three times their previous size, with vehicle circulation limited to one lane on each side of the street, shared by taxis, buses, motorcycles, and bicycles. Private vehicles will be restricted to local traffic only to accommodate the expansion of the sidewalks on Las Ramblas, and the team will install concrete blocks to prevent unauthorised parking.
The project also involves redesigning three distinct spaces along the 1.2-kilometre stretch of Las Ramblas as plaza areas, creating unique transverse and longitudinal flows of pedestrians while seamlessly connecting with the cultural and commercial venues in the surrounding area. These spaces include El Palau Moja-Betlem, Pla de la Boquería, and Pla del Teatre. The project’s first phase is focused on Avenida de las Drassanes, enhancing its connectivity with the Old Port by adding new trees and a “green pavement,” creating public spaces with benches and chairs along the promenade, and improving accessibility and connectivity between neighbourhoods. The pavement, composed of natural stone, granite, and porphyry in various formats, acts as the unifying element across facades. The project will also include almost a hundred trees, 21 of which are new, with more extensive tree beds and better subsoil, over a hundred benches, and a functionally unified lighting system.
The traffic circulation model,for the entire Project will use a single lane of traffic at each side for bikes, buses, goods and services vehicles, plus access to car parking is restricted to residents. Newsstands and florist stops will be interspersed withing the greenery of the trees, so they are no longer facing each other. The renovation plan will transform Las Ramblas into a more inviting and enjoyable space for tourists and locals, making it a connected, vibrant, sustainable urban renewal in Catalonia.
Urbanism Principles: The renovation of Las Ramblas offers several benefits, including a more participatory approach involving residents’ opinions in shaping this iconic area. Expanding sidewalks and restricting vehicles will create a friendlier and more accessible avenue for pedestrians, cyclists, and public transport users. Additionally, transforming three distinct spaces into plaza areas will preserve their unique characteristics while seamlessly connecting cultural and commercial venues in the surrounding area. The project will also improve accessibility and connectivity between the Raval and Gòtico neighbourhoods.
Staged approach: The overall project is divided into five separate phases, with the first one already underway in the Drassanes area, closest to the sea and beside the Columbus monument. This staged approach ensures that access is maintained for residents, services, and emergency vehicles throughout the project, with no disruptions to public transport.
Economic & Social benefits: This strategic urban renewal will bring substantial economic and social benefits, including better utilization of existing and proposed infrastructure, increased visitor attraction, additional expenditure, and new employment opportunities. Stakeholder inclusión: The stakeholders, including commercial and resident representatives, are being engaged through a variety of communication channels, such as media campaigns, public meetings, and information staff in the street. This approach ensures that stakeholders feel heard, valued, and considered during the project’s development and implementation.
Overall, the renovation of Las Ramblas will result in a more welcoming and vibrant avenue, with improved accessibility, connectivity, and economic and social outcomes.
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