The best example of the firm commitment of Barcelona city council during the beginning of the 1980s to transform the city and improve its living conditions in all districts in visual and structural terms is Ciutat Vella. The conviction that the model to be used for promoting the regeneration and revitalisation of the historic centre of our city should be a combination of public and private enterprise gave rise to a first legacy of fourteen years of visible and reputed work by Procivesa, which was taken over by Foment de Ciutat Vella, S.A. from the end of 1999 in an effort to continue promoting a transformation process with a dual objective.
Firstly, to allow the districts in the historic part of Barcelona to recuperate their original central nature existing before the expansion of the city to the Eixample district, which had started with the demolishing of the city walls limiting the growth of Barcelona in the mid 19th-century. And secondly, this recuperation of centrality had to be done without relinquishing the proximity-based, residential character of the historic areas of the city.
1 Plaça Castella
2 Oficina Habitatge
3 Mercat de Santa Caterina
The creation of new urban space, the building of quality public housing, the provision of urban infrastructures in Raval, the Gothic Quarter, the Old Town and Barceloneta, the rehabilitation of private buildings, the remodelling of streets with the objective of making them safer and allow for more room for pedestrians than for vehicles, and the modernisation of service infrastructures and networks, such as implanting a pneumatic waste collection system have been and continue to be some of the basic lines of action that have made it possible to strike and maintain a balance between the two important dynamics that converge every day in Ciutat Vella: centrality and proximity.
Urban and social transformation have led to a new Ciutat Vella in which everyone is welcome and able to co-exist peacefully. Local inhabitants and immigrants, well-off families and less wealthy ones, people working in the historic centre and tourists, cultural and leisure activities, freelance professionals and the small shopkeepers scattered around the district, young and old. Ciutat Vella is a district in which many different types of publics come together every day, all of them from different walks of life and with different concerns. Preserving the balance of this human mix is now the new challenge of a future that would be much more complicated to face if the existing urban planning faults had not been corrected over the past two decades, in terms of the fixtures and infrastructures that existed in this district.
Although this work is quite visible to anyone who cares to stroll through the streets and squares of Ciutat Vella, the objective of improving the quality of life of the residents and users of the historic districts of Barcelona continues to be present, in which respect for the past still co-exists and must continue to co-exist with the dynamic vital reality of large 21st-century cities.
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