Where once traffic roared you can now hear the pleasant sound of children laughing and playing. The Superblock of Poblenou is a pilot project to show what the city of Barcelona will be like when the plans of the superblocks become a reality. The difference in sound and atmosphere between the streets inside the superblock and the traditional streets in the rest of the city is amazing. It should convince the sceptics that the city streets of the future should not be designed for motor traffic, but for people.
I visited Barcelona late October to be part of an Urban Thinkers Campus (UTC) “focused on how to achieve more liveable cities, which are more sustainable, healthier and safer, through the implementation of new models of urban mobility.” The congress was organised by the Federación Iberoamericana de Urbanistas (FIU) and sponsored by the City Council of Barcelona and the World Urban Campaign (UN-HABITAT). I spoke in a session called “Disputant l’hegemonia cultural al Cotxe” (Contesting the cultural hegemony of the car). Not that the objective would be to get rid of the car completely, but its role in the cities of the future should be completely revised. This congress was not just about Barcelona, but having a living lab so close to the venue meant most delegates got to visit the Superilla del Poblenou as the name of the superblock is in Catalan. This superblock is showing us what cities can be like when you do not design first and foremost for the private car.