Floor area (sq m) for residential use in Barcelona and Bogotá, by city block. NO means there are no registered housing surfaces on the block. City Halls are marked by a black circle.
Where do people live? And where do they buy? Answering those questions in a precise way is complex. But it is simpler to know where they could be doing one thing or the other, again using cadastral data on maps at the same scale of both cities. This implies that you will not be sure to find people living in these areas or open retail venues, but that someone is (or should be) paying the tax for these uses in these properties.
These maps are not representing densities, but absolute figures by city block; it is as important to know where the surfaces of these uses are and their magnitude, as knowing where there is no such use.
The firs conclusion is that the intensity of the residential use on central Barcelona is higher than in Bogotá (even taking into account that the city blocks are usually smaller). And it could be a surprise to some, as on many images of the second city you can see some towers, while the image of Barcelona is that of a city of uniform heights. In fact, Bogotá has a larger population, but on a much wider area. What happens is that the average height in Bogotá is less than in Barcelona, and less deep buildings. In Barcelona, 150 years after Cerdá presented his plan to reduce congestion in the city center, and despite having somehow achieved that goal, the new city is still very dense.
Taking a different viewpoint, 2012 Barcelona had 1,6 millions residents (padron, ine.es) and slightly over 72 million sq m of built residential floor (cadastre); so each barcelonés had on average 45 sq m of housing. Bogotá Distrito Capital had in 2012 slightly over 8,9 million residents (estimates by dane.gov.co) and a little more than 179 million sq m2 of residential floor (cadastre); each bogotano had on average 20 sq m of housing floor, less than half, which explains the differences in residential density.
Regarding commerce (as applied by both cadastres, with differences that are not always clear between wholesale and retail), there is a difference and a similitude. The historical core of Barcelona is larger in terms of retail density (concentrating the most affluent populations in the XIXth century grid no doubt helps…), while in Bogotá the area north of plaza Bolivar which concentrates these uses is smaller. The similitude is in the development of the large malls. Despite their sometimes relevant links to public transit systems, they are also car attractors.
According to cadastral data, in Bogotá there are 0,07 sq m of commerce floor for each sq m of residential floor; in Barcelona this rises to 0,188. For each bogotano you have about 1,4 sq m of commerce, and for a barcelonés slightly over 5.
Commercial floor surface (in sq m) by block. NO means a lack of commercial surface in the block
A: Plaza de las Américas- Mundo Aventura, combining a theme park with a large mall
B: Centro Mayor
C: Centro Comercial Calima
D: L’Illa Diagonal
E: La Maquinista
F: Diagonal Mar (the lot with the highest cadastral floor surface in Barcelona, 107.000 sq m)
G: El Corte Inglés on Plaza de Cataluña, a Department store linked to the historical core