Happy 2015 summer


You might as well think I’m getting on holidays… but that’s not just the case. Until autumn I will focus on different things, and I hope you will find time for some rest. And just a little contest for that time. The upper snap was taken in Madrid this morning, from a point inside city limits that can be accessed by anyone (at least during opening hours…). Whoever gets to locate the precise spot will receive a special gift when I start again a regular posting season in autumn. Under these lines you have a clue…


Blocks (6) 22@ at Barcelona



September 2000 marked the enactment of a variance to Barcelona’s Plan General Metropolitano aimed at renovating the industrial areas in Poblenou, also known as 22@BCN Activity District. The goal was to transform an industrial area in a new technology development area, so preventing the brownfield problem. This implied conditions to rearrange the area, a regulation of land uses and use intensities, rules for public facilities and terms of references for Special Plans.


Built height (the darker the blue, the lower the existing height, with many areas in just 1 level)

When the plan was enacted the area was covered mainly by factories. The proposal was to provide a rise from a floor-area ratio of 2 in the previous zoning to one of 3 in the transformation areas (yellow), the rest (red) rising up to 2,2. This may seem reduced, as it is just 50% at the higher case; but the typological evolution (from one floor factories to narrower, higher buildings) will certainly change the landscape. A part of the increase in built surface is used to pay for improvements in public works.


The cadaster shows little change at first sight; sure, it is not entirely up to date (the “stapler” at Plaza de las Glorias is not yet represented), but the fact is that many projects stalled because of the real estate crisis. The Diagonal façades has transformed, and many projects are changing the area in a rather piecemeal mode, as the MediaTIC building, which opens this post…

edif 22arroba

Blocks (5)- Maps 2015 (16) Barcelona as seen by the tax man

pbarna 0-0

French geographer Yves Lacoste used to say that geography is since its inception a war tool. It’s not my aim to contradict him, but in fact urban cartography is since its inception a tool to levy taxes… here are the primary results of processing the cadastral maps of Barcelona by assigning a 3 m height to each level above ground… More soon.



Maps 2015 (15) Either we lack kids or we have too many schools


The Encuesta de Infraestructuras y Equipamientos Locales is a periodical survey in Spain which lets us know the state of infrastructures and public facilities in municipalities under 50.000 residents. According to the 2013 edition (the most recent available, which does not include some provinces in the map as Madrid or Huelva, at least for this topic), here is the municipal figure for the ratio between the capacity of kindergartens and the number of kids attending class in each settlement. Red squares are less than 40%, orange triangles 40% to 60%, and blue rhombus over 60%. No need to browse the absolut values (often depressing) to see clearly that the core of the Iberian peninsula is getting empty. Note, however, that as Madrid has no data in 2013 the map is misleading, as the region is quite different (just see how many blues nearby)

Just to make my position clear, the title is just that, a title, as the problem is far more complex… and not just a Spanish issue.

Blocks (4) El Viso

El Viso as seen from the south, according to cadastral data

El Viso as seen from the south, according to cadastral data

El Viso is a residential area built in Madrid in 1933-1936 according to the 1925 Low Coast Housing Act. It never really was a worker’s neighborhood, as it soon became an area for middle classes and intellectuals.

El Viso. Lot area (in sq m). Red circles are proportional to the residential floor area for each lot

El Viso. Lot area (in sq m). Red circles are proportional to the residential floor area for each lot

Viso 2

Nowadays it is a kind of anomaly just by the denser area of Paseo de la Habana- Castellana. The original terraced homes have changed, gaining some levels here and ther, and some are now the location for other uses. However, the layout and the feeling of low density are still there. You can judge yourself thanks to google street view.

El Viso as seen from the east, according to cadastral data. On the background the AZCA towers show their presence.

El Viso as seen from the east, according to cadastral data. On the background the AZCA towers show their presence.

Maps (2015) Lago d’Iseo

An image from the project by Christo in Lago d’Iseo. Image from ANSA

This comes from a press release by ANSA, the Italian Press Agency, and the title is quite catching; in English it would be “walking on the Iseo lake with Christ”, as this is a project for a temporary structure on the aforementioned lake, in Northern Italy, which springs from the mind of Christo Vladimirov, aka Christo, and Jeanne- Claude, two plastic artists that have done things as wrapping the Reichstag. As always, an interesting work of art.

Blocks (3) Olivenza

Central Olivenza. Reference grid: 100 m

Central Olivenza. Reference grid: 100 m

Olivenza is a small city in the province of Badajoz, Spain. Until 1801 it was a Portuguese city, and the border is now at a short distance.

This border position is the reason for a series of walls that have protected the city, leaving a still visible trace in the current urban fabric.

The core of the walled zone is organized around the first castle and the main church, with a group of four rather regular blocks. The subsequent urban growth reached a larger wall.


Getting a look at the blocks on the southern edge of the walled area there is a certain degree of regularity, with some 35 m in width and slightly over 100 m in length, and a structure of streets going towards the core of some 5 m in width. Block area is usually between 4.000 and 5.000 sq m (about an acre for Imperial System fans), and lot lines are usually over 6 m. Heights are usually less than 4 levels. The rather narrow block makes courts rather irregular, with not much continuity.


And white architecture, with “calçada portugesa” as paving… A protected area which is well preserved.