Cerdà/Barcelona/Eixample: 1855-2017 … A Work in Progress

Cerdà/Barcelona/Eixample: 1855-2017 … A Work in Progress

Jordi Ferran Sardà (Independent Researcher, Spain)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3613-0.ch002


Barcelona's Eixample presently covers an area of 3x9 km. It contains 800 blocks, with their corresponding chamfered corners—and 20,000 totally built lots. It gives shelter to 300,000 inhabitants and an equal number of jobs. Furthermore, it is an immense forest of 50,000 trees—most of them planted along its 250 km of streets. It coincides almost exactly with the proposal conceived in 1859 by Ildefonso Cerdà, which today is still consolidating the city's most dynamic limits. What is the reason for the success of this plan? Perhaps the flexibility of a just norm over 150 years has helped identify Barcelona, as well as granting it the reputation as a well-planned and rational city. This is the most prominent value of the Cerdà Plan. Its ability of permanency in assuming changes of use, ordinances, an increase of its building potential, a succession of styles, construction processes, and ways of life mean practical success of a theoretical project, a view shared by experts and citizens.
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The Topographic Plan

The Topographic Plan of the surroundings of Barcelona was the base of the Eixample. The Plan was commissioned to Cerdà on the 23rd of December of 1854 by the civil governor Ciril Franquet, a progressive much like his predecessor, Pascual Madoz1. The elaboration of the Topographic Plan2 was an arduous but very fast endeavour, which permitted Cerdà to present it in November of 1855. In order to achieve this, he used 25 “colles d' anivelladors (levelling teams)”. The survey was drawn at a scale of 1/5000 and encompassed 20 times the dimension of the walled city. It had contour lines every meter, that is to say, giving it a very remarkable precision in the details. It was deployed in 36 quarters (9x4) and laid out the city and the territory horizontally in reference to the sea. Let us observe what the territorial base of the new idea of city was, what it contained and how it was organized.

The ancient city appeared off-centre in the Plan. The survey extended to the Besós River, defined the city walls, the doors and the fortifications of the citadel as well as the rail lines and stations of Martorell and Mataró. Montjuïc, the urban mountain, closed the Plan with its mass dominated by the castle on the summit, which controlled the city, the port and the sea. In the plain, the circular lines of the “no aedificandi” territory were visible. These 1800 varas (1 vara=0,835905m.) were the limit of the military zone. It was precisely this area that would contain the Eixample. Its occupation, at that moment, was sparser than the rest of the plain, where all the built nuclei, farmhouses and summer houses were located stippling the Plan. Hostafrancs and Sants, with their station, organized their suburban growth along the road that directly led to Lleida and Madrid. This route joined the Bordeta road in Creu Coberta and penetrated the city through the Portal de Sant Antoni.

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