The development of the Urban Space

The revival of urban space that is taking place in large cities around the world can be seen through the innumerable projects being undertaken in Barcelona. These will place the city as the true gateway between Northern and Southern Europe thus increasing its importance and international influence. To be found among these projects is the remodeling of the sea-front of Poblenou which become the definitive opening of Barcelona to the Mediterranean Sea.

Pasqual Maragall. Mayor of Barcelona

The Choice of an Urban Area

The creation of a new urban area in Poblenou as an extension of the city reflected in the Special Urban Development Plan of Barcelona's Sea-front in the area between Passeig de Carles I and the Av. D'Icária is mainly due to the possibility that its location offers by channeling the use of the sea and coastal area of Barcelona by its inhabitants. This will unify as a whole series of important questions concerning the Barcelona of the future: the creation of a new residential area, the redevelopment of the sea-front, the reorganization of the road network and its use as the Olympic Village during the 1992 Olympic Games, and the improvement of the infrastructure standards in this areas.

A Description of Poblenou

Poblenou is a neighborhood of 80.000 inhabitants within the old municipality of Sant Martí de Provençals. The first factories were constructed in the 18th century (taking advantage of the underground water supply coming from the sea and the River Besòs) and dwellings for the workers. The first railway to be opened in Spain was between Barcelona and Mataró in 1848. Although it increased the commercial activity of the district, it separated the residential area form the beaches of Mar-Bella. The maximum growth of the area took place between 1857 and 1860. Nevertheless, as industry has been relocated further and further away from the urban centre, the areas has progressively deteriorated. Thus the redevelopment of the area became one the pending unsolved matters of the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona.

The Olympic Village Project

The Special Urban Plan at the sector of Ps. Carles I and Av. Icària, made by the Architects Martorell-Bohigas-Mackay-Puigdomènech, was passed in June 1986 and it became the definitive tool for the new development of the area. Likewise, it was hoped that the impulse generated by the nomination of Barcelona for the 1992 Olympic Games would enough to overcome a series of technical, administrative and social problems that had been insurmountable until that moment for accomplishing the project. The global operation is being carried out in two clearly defined stages due to the state of the area: the public works on the infrastructure and urbanization and the building of private dwellings and public services.

The Management

During 1986 the Organ Especial de Gestió del Front Marítim del Poble Nou, being transformed in January'87 into Vila Olímpica, S.A., concentrated its efforts on the following fundamental issues: the acquisition of the land needed to undertake the transformation of the current uses of the sites and the network of the planned infrastructure, along with the coordination of the different Official Departments in charge of different matters of define the extent of the remodeling, the bureaucratic processes and the source of finance. This coordination enabled several agreements, such as those dealing with the railway lines and the coasts, which allowed a coherent development of planning and assured its effectivity, and on the other hand, the elaboration of a compulsory land purchase scheme together with the collection of the information of all the affected parts. During 1987 and 1988, the Infrastructures Department of Villa Olímpica, S.A. has carried out all the projects (most of them with the 80% of works already finished), has bought all the land and demolished the old factories and dwellings to urbanize the area for the new buildings, to be started in September'89.

The Infrastructure

The works on the infrastructure, of extraordinary complexity due to the number and importance of the affected interests in the area, and the need to disturb the urban activity as little as possible , include the following: The acquisition of land; the remodeling of the mainline railway network of the city to get rid of the barriers that the existing line caused in Poblenou; the recovery of the coastal strip and the creation of new beaches; the construction of main sewerage drains; the completion of the coastal ring-road as the main road between East and West; and the preparatory works for the basic urbanization of the area which will take place at about the same time as the commencement of building.

Land Requisition. Compulsory Purchase Programme

After the approval to the modification of the ‘Pla General Metropolità', the coming into force of the ‘Pla Especial de Reforma Interior del Polígon no.1' initiated the process of the compulsory purchase and subsequent public presentation of the project named ‘Projecte d'Expropiació per Taxació Conjunta'. This was begun in December 1986 and it allowed to get into contact with all those people and organisations affected by the project ‘Remodelació del Front Marítim del Poublenou'. The ‘Projecte d'Expropiació per Taxació Conjunta' elaborated by the S.P.M. Vila Olímpica, S.A., allowed to proceed with the emergency occupation of the affected sites just in case that mutual agreements were not reached. The Inventory includes 72 sited occupied 147 workshops and retail premises and 157 dwellings. In December 1987, all the of this area already belonged to Vila Olímpica S.A.

Preservation of the History and Heritage

A plan was established to preserve the history and heritage of the area as a parallel task to the purchase of the land. This was put into practice before demolitions to leave a testimony of the existing situation through a specific project of investigation and documentation. Several photography's, video programs and plans reflect any interesting corner that existed in the area.


During 1987, Olímpica, S.A. started the demolition of old factories, warehouses and dwellings already bought by Olímpica, S.A., that allowed the initiation of the rest of the infrastructure projects, being both works perfectly coordinated.

Remodeling of the Railway Network

The remodeling of the railway network involves substantial changes in the layout of the railway lines into Barcelona. Basically, it consists in dismantling the present coastal line (Ramel de la Marina) from the river Besòs to the Estació de França, and to partially take the other access to the station (Ramal Glories) underground from Carrer Pujades to the station itself under the Olympic village. Railway services coming from the Maresme have up to now used the local terminal at Pla de Palau as their station. Most of these will have their routes changed being extended to cross the city thus increasing the capacity of present stations: following the river and crossing Barcelona via Clot, Arc de Triomf, Pl. Catalunya, Sants and Hospitalet. The remodeling of the network is made up of twelve minor projects, some of them already finished.

Regaining the Coastal Zone

The project which has been included in the current ‘Pla dÓrdenació de la Costa de Llevant de Barcelona' includes important works to protect the coast that allow a wide promenade to be build (The Passeig Marítim), the distribution of the beaches, the building and canalization of the drains, the construction of facilities (sport and public services) along the coastal strip and the construction of the sites to be build on, such as the sportive port an nautical bases to be used for yachting competitions in the 1992 Olympic Games; a Convention Center; Yatching School and hotel and Service facilities.

The Coastal Ring-Road

The ring-road has priority access to the area. Garden areas as well as an ample parking zone will be included in the construction and urbanization of both roadways. Main function of this ring-road lies in its concept as a longitudinal access that incorporates a range of sport-cultural-residential services between the Ps. De Colón and the Besòs area.

Sanitation Infrastructure

The sanitation network foresees the construction of main drains that will supplement the present deficiency of the Bogatell drain. The planned drainage system is Unitarian (sewerage and rainwater) which before reaching the coast to split up at an intercepting drain which leads the sewage to the purification plants and the rainwater to the sea through the outlets of Joan d'Àustria and the Bogatell drain. The corresponding constructive projects were drawn up as a follow up to several alterative studies and works coordinated with other public service subterranean networks. At present, the 60% of these works already accomplished.

Financing of the infrastructure

The approximate cost of the infrastructure is shown in the following table:

(in million pesetas)









Ajuntament Vila Olímpca S.A.





























RENFE will not contribute economically but it will give up land presently occupied.

  1. Remodeling of the railway network
  2. Procurement of land
  3. Sanitation
  4. Revival of the coast
  5. Coastal ring-road
  6. Urbanization
  7. Demolitions and subsoil sanitation

Villa Olímpica S.A.

The need for short term financing to cover the infrastructure coast of the project (in only 3 years) on behalf of Barcelona City Hall and the need to give maximum administrative flexibility to the Organ Especial de Gestió del Front Marítim del Poblenou were the main reasons why this Organ was transformed into S.P.M. Vila Olímpica, S.A., which is responsible for the overall management of the operation. This company (with 1.385 million pesetas share capital, 100% provided by the Municipality) obtained through the private financial sector the concession of a credit through long term (20 years) repayment within the municipal budgets. Besides to this Credit, Villa Olímpica S.A. signed another ones with the European Investment Bank for 10.000 million pesetas and with Banco de Crédito Local for 5.000 million pesetas, to finance the sewerage works. This system allows for the municipal financing of the building of the infrastructure to be finished before January 1989.


The second phase of the operation includes the building of a new part of the city that during the Olympic Games will be the Olympic Village: deweling and urban services for the athletes. There will be approximately 2500 apartments, with prevalence those with a useful surface of about 120m². They will host 15.000 athletes. The building will also have some areas that in the future will be devoted to shopping centers and garages, that will host the complementary services to the residence (Olympic committees, restaurants, shopping centers, banks,…) The Village will be completed with the complementary sport facilities -sport pavilion and athletics training tracks- the beach, that will be of private use for the athletes during the Game, and the port and adjoining beach, for the sailing competition. Besides, the coastal facilities area next to Hospital del Mar (Olympic Hospital during the Games) will have a Convention Hall, a five stars hotel, restaurants, shops, office buildings and public service buildings. This part of the city has been designed to obtain a new district both maritime and central inside Barcelona. The ‘Eixamle Cerdà' network design has been respected an recuperated, and the new quartes planning have been proposed, by gathering in superquarters, with peripherical building according to streets layout (as to maintain the urban characters given by traditional streets) and building typologies in the inner part of the quarters according to the modern living standers, in contact with the private gardens, air and sun. The management model chosen for the construction of this area will be carried out by private initiative and Municipality cooperation, to assure the architectural formalization foreseen in the Special Plan through the definition of the general and specific architectonic criteria, the indicative pre-design , the graphic normative and regulations (layout, volumes, heights, gateways, roofs, projecting cornice, textures, façade openings, etc.) -, and the specific design of special elements such as the gateway building, the lineal arcade of the Litoral Avenue and the curving façades of Carles I ans the Bogatell Square. Everything has to be given the Organizing Committee of the Barcelona Olympic Games by the end of December 1991. This shows the unavoidable need to accomplish an schedule that cannot be delayed.

Resume of surfaces and locations of the projected contrustions.

Recreational perimeter of the Olympic Village

Areas exclusively devoted to residential use (including roads) 30 Ha

Recreational areas and beaches 17 Ha

Total 47 Ha

Potential roof surfaces

Inside residential perimeter

S.V.P. 5 126.477 m²

S.V.P. 6 21.437 m²

S.V.P. 7 86.409 m²

S.V.P. 8 96.919 m²

331.242 m²

In coastal facilities 119.458 m²

Total 450.700 m²

Total area devoted to the ‘Olympic Family' and lodging capacity of the Olympic Village.

331.242 m² - 70.000 m² (commercial facilities) = 261.242 m²

2.500 apartments of 100 m²/u. with an average of 6 athletes / 100 m² = 15.000 athletes.

Bron: Remodeling of the maritime front of Poblenou Barcelona, Olympic Village.

Ajuntament de Barcelona, Vila Olímpica S.A.'92

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