Les Glòries: this is neither a classic square nor a metropolitan park – it is a space that is sensitive and subjective like the concept of public space itself. It is an urban empty space for traffic and social relationships between citizens. Only an open flow of communication, social exchange and activity will ensure that this space attains its own rhythm.


Just as peripheries generate and nourish centres, the edges of an urban empty space make them viable. Unlike the concept of a square, which is defined centrifugally based on the structure of its perimeter, and embodied in alignments and façades, the urban empty space is an expectant space around which the city has grown centripetally according to its own laws. The limits on growth of this consolidated urban fabric are the edges of the empty space: a boundary formed by the rear of a city that thereby denies the empty space any value of urbanity.


Any intervention on the edges of an urban empty space entails recognising its status as a permeable, osmotic membrane, which is able to create the necessary interconnections of flows of activity and movement. Physically, when identifying the edge, the materialisation of built volumes is important, as well as the perception of interstitial spaces. These are capillary transitional conduits between the sometimes unkind face of the consolidated urban fabric, and the empty space reinvented as a place for social coexistence and a variety of uses.


The semi-block covered by the tender is conceived as part of this edge area, taking its fragmentary and permeable condition into account. The built area is contained in four buildings that provide the corners and create a central space and a crossed system of pedestrian traffic which are integrated into the transitional membrane to the public space. The buildings constructed in the public space or public space extend into the interstices of the construction; it is in any event a complex non-specialised space that becomes unique when it achieves a role as a boundary.


The four proposed buildings, with heights that fulfil both the planning stipulations and the potential arising from their position, are linked in pairs with lower arms that restore the continuity of the façades from a closer perspective, and maintain the permeability of the ground floors and porticoes.


The buildings are planned to be formed by a closed perimeter 7.4 metres deep, which is a structural central bay, with an inner distribution corridor in a cantilever around a central patio. The planning must acknowledge that the courtyards are non-computable, and according to the dimensions stipulated for the ventilation courtyards, do not illuminate or ventilate the main rooms. In the homes around them, which basically have two or three bedrooms, the main rooms are facing towards the façade, open to the outside or to the interior free space between buildings.


Homes distributed in this way have a twofold flexibility of uses: the ability to modify, adapt or connect the main rooms, and the ability to reorganise how the inner services area is used, since the three-bedroom homes have an additional space for non-specific uses that can be used as a second bathroom, as a laundry room or as a storage room. 


The open central courtyards with porticoed access on the ground floor provide air convection, which ensures adequate cross-ventilation of the homes. The execution of ventilated façades and landscaped and accessible roofs in all the buildings with access from the housing level, or a floating cover on the tallest building, will ensure adequate heat insulation conditions.


Meanwhile, the proximity to the existing power plant and to the network that has already been executed makes a connection to the Districlima cooling and heat distribution service advisable, which will ensure that energy from renewable sources is used.

Project: Adolf Martínez / Josep Lluís Sisternas, architects MSA+A

Collaborators: Lara Ferrer, Gemma Paone, Vivian Rodríguez, architects MSA+A

Developer: Barcelona Municipal Patronage of Housing

Built area: 30.000 m²

Chronology: 2016