- A bike path by Batlle i Roig
The Catalan architecture firm, Batlle i Roig, guests at the roundtable debate on 19 October 2018 in the Italy Pavilion at the Arsenale in Venice with the Mexican firm Harari Landscape Architecture and MC A headed by Mario Cucinella, has designed an 890-metre-long bike path. This small surgical operation connects the Forum with the Carretera de les Aigües track, with Collserola Park, and with Esplugues and towns in the Baix Llobregat zone along Avinguda Diagonal, one of the main roads in Barcelona.
The project, in the densely populated greater metropolitan area of Barcelona, is a perfect reflection of the philosophy of Batlle i Roig, which has always been very attentive to sustainability issues. In the words of Enric Batlle: “The challenge for urban design in coming years is to help overcome the barriers that have been built between natural spaces and the city.”
Not for nothing is the project located at one of the most complicated points of the metropolitan road network: the crossroads of Avinguda Diagonal (Barcelona) and Avinguda dels Països Catalans (Esplugues de Llobregat). Because this complex junction has formed a barrier to pedestrians and bikes alike for over sixty years. Batlle i Roig’s firm and ongoing commitment to sustainable mobility and a greener city gave them the drive to design a gently sloping bike lane in a replanted, landscaped environment that also provides a vantage point for the city and connects the urban network of bike lanes - the Bicivia - with Collserola Park’s system of open spaces.
Clearly, their aim was to minimise the impact on the natural environment, so they opted for design solutions that would adapt the path to the morphological characteristics of this site with its varying terrain and the infrastructures that intersect at different levels. The end result of this idea is an iconic pathway that doubles as a kind of land art because of the choice of the distinctive visually striking materials, like the gabions filled with Collserola stone, the ironstone, rust-treated pavements and corten steel handrails, all of which are weatherproof.
The pathway gets through the junction by crossing over the top of it with a 5-metre clearance and then going under it along an old, abandoned underpass with a 2.5-metre headroom. The pathway is 4.5 metres wide and is divided into a pedestrian path and a bike lane with two parallel strips that are distinguished by the colour and texture of the pavement. This arrangement ensures that the bike lane (2.30 m wide) is continuous and regular along the entire route. At the same time, it gives pedestrians the opportunity to engage directly with nature because the architects have included some open lay-by areas in order to preserve the existing trees and integrate them into the new pathway. In turn, people can use these widened sections of up to 4.5 m to rest, because they have been equipped with benches, seats and bike racks. And while they rest they can also take in the views of Avinguda Diagonal and the city.
All the plants selected by Batlle i Roig for the landscaping of the verges of the pathway consist of native species that require very little water, and which also flower seasonally to provide changing colours and scents throughout the year.
The new pedestrian path and bike lane designed by Batlle i Roig has turned a forgotten space into a place of meeting and urban continuity for the metropolitan community. A greenway, where traffic flow is calm and peaceful, somewhat reminiscent of a country lane, far from the city and major road infrastructures.
Project: Batlle i Roig
Design team headed by Enrice Batlle and Joan Roig: Antoni Monté, Francesc Montero (architects) Dolors Feu (agricultural engineer and landscape architect) Yago Cavaller (environmentalist)
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Images: Jordi Surroca