Public space

Territorial articulation through projects and works in the metropolitan public space


The Barcelona Metropolitan Area has the articulation and cohesion of its territory as its basic objectives, equipping it with shared services and providing technical assistance to the municipalities that are a part of it. Ultimately, the goal is to allow the metropolitan city to work properly and to improve the quality of life of its inhabitants. In order to reach these goals, the metropolitan administration has highly specialized personnel, with the technical means and the necessary tools to complete the territory's cycle of transformation, allowing it to include the complete management process and ensure the achievement of results.

The 2011-2015 period has been marked by a climate of economic crisis which, luckily, has not tarnished the hopes of the town councils (more than 650 requests for assistance were submitted) and has not led to a reduction in the investment capacity, projection and implementation of actions by the AMB, since the metropolitan investment plans have been maintained and even expanded.

The Directorate for Public Space Services has taken on the set of projects for the public space promoted by the AMB, whether they are promoted by the metropolitan administration, by the municipality or by other administrations. The River Spaces and Special Projects Service of the AMB is in charge of the regeneration projects of rivers and streams.

The actions implemented range from large works of a territorial nature to other more local ones, and focus on:
  • Streets, parks, squares and seafront promenades.
  • Facilities.
  • Managing the 40 metropolitan beaches.
  • Setting up and maintaining a network of 40 metropolitan parks.
  • Managing the large natural spaces of Collserola and the Marina range.
Among these actions, the projects and works in outdoor public spaces are especially relevant, and this is because of the role they play in promoting social cohesion. The constant improvements to these spaces is one of the fundamental tasks of the AMB and includes both remodelling streets and squares, or building new ones, and also managing and maintaining the large open-air spaces: parks and beaches.

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Public space
Metropolitan investment plans
River areas
During the 2011-2015 period, the number of requests for projects and works in public spaces submitted by metropolitan town councils has grown: 442 requests were submitted, although they were smaller in dimensions.

Rambla Lluch de Gavà
Jordi Surroca
Rambla Lluch, in Gavà. Adapted public access under the railway | Photograph: Jordi Surroca
All of the projects for public spaces promoted by the AMB share a set of goals and values:
  • Reinforce social cohesion.
  • Give all spaces in the metropolitan territory the same quality as central spaces.
  • Work in and renovate marginal and border spaces.
  • Improve connections among neighbourhoods.
  • Work at all levels, taking care of every detail.
The 442 AMB actions in open spaces may be grouped as follows:
  • 314 actions in urban spaces of the 36 municipalities
  • 92 actions in open spaces and metropolitan parks
  • 10 actions in river spaces
  • 10 actions in seafront promenades and beaches
  • 9 bike lanes
  • 7 bridges and footbridges
street, in Badalona
Austràlia street, in Badalona | Photograph: Adrià Goula

  • Seafront promenades

    Adrià Goula
    Urbanisation of a new section of the seafront promenade in Badalona, between Mar street and Nova Marina pier | Photograph: Adrià Goula

    Since the nineteen eighties, the AMB has been developing a whole series of projects along the seafront, to expand and complete the metropolitan seafront promenade, in close collaboration with the town councils and the competent Spanish ministry (Today, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and the Environment). The goal is to emphasize the environmental features of the metropolitan seafront and make them compatible with heir citizen's use with actions such as:
    • Improving accessibility to the beaches.
    • Implementing more services on beaches, such as showers, toilets, and playgrounds for children.
    • Planning beach bars.
    • Creating spaces for cars to park.
    • Building bike lanes.
    During the 2011-2015 period, three interventions deserve being highlighted, with a total of 2,800 linear metres with a high natural value and urban quality:
    • Badalona. Works have been completed along the seafront promenade in the section between Rambla de Mar and the Nova Marina. A large stretch of 1,200 metres of beach (Pont del Petroli) was also recovered. (Investment Ministry and AMB)
    • Montgat. The first stage of the new Maritime Frontline, of 500 m, has been built in the area of Torre de Guaita, between Turó and the fishermen's wharf. The promenade is now wider and larger, with a shared space for pedestrians and cyclists, that may be continued in future stages. (Investment AMB and Town Council)
    • Castelldefels. Construction works have started for the third stage of the Seafront Promenade, of 1,100 m, with a project to regulate the width of the current promenade, include a bike lane, improve the planting of palm trees and consolidate the vegetation. (Investment Ministry and AMB)
  • Public space and ecological footprint
    The AMB, following European directives and the Metropolitan Plan of Action (PAM), has started collaborating with the ITEC in carrying out the studies that are needed to quantify the ecological footprint of construction works it carries out, both in terms of energy and also carbon emissions, with a clear will to reduce the environmental impact and energy expenditure.

    To be precise, three studies have been conducted:
    • A handbook on construction materials with a greater associated impact.
    • A comparative study on the impact of several usual construction solutions.
    • A methodology to determine the amount of emissions from the construction works of the AMB and its implementation to different types of projects.
    Depending on the outcomes in these studies, during the next mandate, a code of good practice will be drafted setting out the commitments to reduce the environmental impact of the works performed and containing strategic measures to reduce the consumption of water and the emission of pollutants during the useful life of new constructions.
  • Quality control and "Building Logbooks"
    The experience accumulated at the AMB with construction works and their subsequent management has shown that each and every stage of the construction process deserves special attention –programme, project, construction, management and maintenance– if the aim is to ensure the quality of the service.

    For construction works, it has been seen that the usual and required quality control protocols do not sufficiently guarantee that no later building pathologies may occur, especially in the construction of buildings. To minimize this possibility, the AMB has defined and met the first goals, which are:
    • Rendering the control of materials, tests and execution of the works systematic. Besides counting on the collaboration of expert external, the AMB has pushed for greater specialization within its construction department. In addition to the compulsory tests set out in legislation, new optional tests and specific controls have been included, that have proven to be effective to avoid unusual building pathologies, as well as precautions to be taken into account during the design stage.
    • Drafting a user and maintenance handbook for all works. So as to correctly transfer all the works carried out to town councils, the drafting of a "Building logbook" has been rolled out for all buildings constructed by the AMB, to facilitate and promote a culture of maintenance and create, in the mid-term, a database that can guide future projects. The "Building logbook", which in a first stage applied only to housing buildings, is now applied to all buildings and in the future will also apply to all other construction works.
The quality of street furniture is directly lined to the public space where it is placed and must be durable, easy to maintain and with a high performance.

Bicibox module in Cornellà de Llobregat
The quality of street furniture is directly lined to the public space where it is placed and must be durable, easy to maintain and with a high performance.

The AMB has been completing the use of high quality street furniture produced by renowned manufacturers, with its own design of elements, both for streets and squares, and also for beaches, parks and river banks. This has enabled producing a catalogue of products and elements designed by the AMB –which have received awards and distinctions– that has been strongly promoted during this mandate:
  • Completion of the series of beach elements and modules.
  • Bike parking racks for beaches.
  • Bicibox modules.
  • Autonomous beacons.
  • Loudspeaker supports.
  • Semi-buried containers for beaches.
  • Bike lane separators.
  • Lighting devices.
  • Signposts for the network of metropolitan parks.
  • Signposts along the Llobregat river.
  • Signposts on beaches (under review).
Also, new beach games have been designed, such as korfball (designed expressly together with the Catalan Korfball federation) and football goals.

All these designs are the work of the AMB technicians in collaboration with external designers and companies. Gradually, new technologies are included in the new designs, as is the case of the Paral·lel column or the smart loudspeaker supports.

More information
Innovation in public space
  • Park signpost project
    The project to place signposts in metropolitan parks was drafted in 2013 and started to be implemented in 2014. This meets two different needs: designing a system that will provide a common set of signposts for all 40 parks in the network of metropolitan parks, and generating a powerful visual identity that gives the idea of a joint public space offer. The project therefore defines signposts that are efficient for users; that are able to respect the specificities and peculiarities, different locations, types and designs of each park without forgetting the commitment to use a common set of signposts as the adopted solution.

    The proposal therefore develops both and industrial and graphic solution for all signposts and defines the style manual that makes it possible to implement the project progressively in each of the parks. The signposts that have been designed are basically of three types:
    • General signposts that are located by the entrances to the parks, containing information on identification, uses and services, rules of behaviour and characteristic elements in each park.
    • Direction signposts inside the parks, indicating routes and the location of different elements.
    • Information signposts in the parks, defining the facilities, equipment and unique elements for which specific information is given. These signposts may also contain warnings on dangers and rules of use for concrete elements.
    Signposts in Parc Riu Llobregat, Bronze at the Laus 2013 awards in the category Graphics applied to spaces | Photograph: Jordi Surroca
Corbera de Llobregat
Re-arrangement of Major and Canigó streets, in Corbera de Llobregat | Photograph: Adrià Goula
The AMB carries out dissemination actions for the metropolitan spaces it manages, designs and creates. The aim of this is to provide information on the management and actions taken, and to bring citizens and professionals closer to these spaces, while fostering their recognition and deliver on them. This task is carried out in collaboration with publishing houses and the media; also through its own publications; by submitting its projects to architecture and design contests; and by producing materials for presentations and exhibitions.

The fourth book of the collection "Espais Metropolitans" has been published. This book contains the actions carried out during the 2008-2012 period: a set of 40 works that intend to be a sample of the actions done by the AMB. These works are described and illustrated with pictures, floor plans, a short memo and a factsheet.

Participating in architecture and design contests is an essential part in disseminating the works to professionals. At the same time, the awards received for some of the works are an encouragement to continue working with the same criteria of quality and public service that are already followed.

The awards received in the field of public space are the following:
  • N-II Road, in Montgat. Finalist at the 3rd Maresme Architecture Exhibition 2011 under the category of Interventions in Outdoor Spaces.
  • Major and Canigó streets, in Corbera de Llobregat. Shortlisted for the Lamp Lighting Solutions 2011 award, under the category of Urban Lighting and Landscape.
  • RIM AMB bike parking. Silver medal at the Delta 2013 awards given by the ADI-FAD.
  • Seafront Promenade, in Badalona. Shortlisted for the FAD 2013 awards under the category City and Landscape. Shortlisted for the Rosa Barba award in the 8th International Landscape Biennial 2014.
During the period 2011-2015 main projects in public space have been carried out under the following investment programmes:

CAME: Metropolitan Actions Catalogue
PACT: Programme for Territorial Cohesion Actions
FEDER: European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)
AT: AMB Technical Assistance Plan
Pla AMB / BCN: Collaboration programme with the Barcelona Town Council in public space and facilities projects

More information
See AMB projects, works and actions
Complete listing of mains actions in public space and facilities 2011-2015 (cat)