Urban planning project in the Vallcarca neighborhood

Idea Competition Proposal Winner for the Planning of Vallcarca with the  Theme “Roots”

Vallcarca is a neighborhood in Barcelona that has suffered the most urban exploitation in the past few decades. The physical and symbolic void that remains is the main challenge for the urban planning project of recovering of the dignity and identity of the space. The project proposes a productive neighborhood model that recovers identity values of Vallcarca both in its physical heritage and in its intangible heritage of metabolic management of resources, such as the water management, agricultural and energy production, manufacturing workshops, and the local product commerce.

The objective of reconstructing the fabric of the neighborhood while incorporating new cooperative housing presents an obstacle between the rehabilitation of the old building and the insertion of the new site. The proposed building in the street’s urban context creates continuity in the neighborhood’s historical fabric by recognizing the existing conditions (like the self-managing carpentry building) and opening ground floors to be public spaces for local cooperative residents’ small businesses and workshops. By encouraging these local stores and workshops to be like third places, or gathering spaces for community members, it will lower situations of displacement and social exclusion. The building’s structure is concentrated in the perimeter, therefore freeing 65% of the floor plan as an open and permeable public space for productive and self-managed use.This guarantees accessibility for people and hydro-biological continuity. The public space is articulated around the Era de Vallcarca as a plaza that creates a new model of rural-urban space self-managed by the residents and with self-sufficient resources.

The water strategy highlights the multi-scale condition of the local catchment formed by the Vallcarca and Farigola rivers. The project considers water as a heritage and an identifying value in the neighborhood. It proposes a strategy of hydraulic continuity to create a productive and self-sufficient space. Two strategies are used to channel the rainwater originating from the nearest catchment area (especially from Turull Forest and the Consulado Gardens and María Baldó Gardens) and its post-phytodepuration accumulation (puration of surface water through plant’s roots), which will improve the irrigation quality and reactivate the old stream’s water systems. The water then incorporates into the Park Güell neighborhood, which uses its urban elements to manage the runoff water, such as guiding the water down the trails in a controlled manner and reverting the habitual process of erosion to create an oasis in the middle of the urban environment. The retaining walls on the terraced landscape facilitate the infiltration, leverage the productivity of water, and the perforated materials are able to filter the condensation from the sea breeze. The platforms located at strategic points are combined with the aforementioned sources into new meetings points for the neighbors, empowering the community and acting as pedagogical devices towards a new culture of water. Excess from the rainwater catchment system are collected into paths made of permeable surfaces at the lower portion of the basin, allowing subsurface infiltration and thus, creating a sustainable water cycle management.In terms of the built environment, the water collected from roofs is sanitized through ultraviolet treatment (UVA) to guarantee safe water for domestic use. Then the water is recycled as gray water for the bathrooms.

The proposal advocates the biological continuity of the “unplanned” green system (public green and private green), encouraging the flora-fauna relationship between the Turull Forest and the Turó del Putxet. It is defined by small actions of re-naturalization points in the garden’s surrounding areas for the continuation of the large, central, permeable surface that functions as a large, productive, green space. The project introduces community-managed gardens for the residents, like the Videa de la Calle Farigola gardens, and strengthens them by combining large spaces intended for gardening and fruit plantations with Mediterranean Holm Oak plantations which are characteristic of the neighborhood. The incorporation of green spaces encourages consistency and help minimize energy demand within the building.

The competition proposal also includes a discussion paper which has been revised in the participatory process, continuing from the neighborhood dynamics.Accordingly, the initial planning proposal presented at the competition is not designed as a fixed solution, but aims to create an open dialogue and to begin a cooperative process between all stakeholders involved in its management. This plan does not intend to challenge an urban model, but to establish principles that allow Vallcarca to expand with consideration of its history, people, and the environment.


Carles Enrich


Adriana Campmany, Anna de Castro, Joan Martí, Jesús Quintana, Albert Rabinad, Toni Herena (AIGUASOL), Adrià Alberich


Ajuntament de Barcelona

Any projecte



18 de February de 2020


Territory and landscape