Today, Barcelona is undertaking one of the major systemic transformations in years. The Superblock strategy will restrict traffic to some big roads (drastically reducing pollution) and turn secondary streets into citizen spaces for culture, leisure and the community. It will create walkable environments (complementing the existing ones) that will orchestrate the inhabitants’ daily life in proximity. In this context, the City Council needed a tool to understand how to frame this transformation and provide the necessary public facilities to support this new slow-mobility strategy.
The ‘System of centralities’ (developed by 300.000 Km/s) in Barcelona proposes a holistic approach to the concept of proximity, understood as the concentration of services, uses and spaces in the city that allows the correct development of various activities (residential, economic, cultural, etc.).
For years this idea of centrality has been associated with relevant urban transformations. However, the centrality linked to residential fabrics is essential for the containment of mobility, the development of daily care activities and the strengthening of social relations with the neighbours.
In short, it creates an immediate environment where inhabitants (whatever their age, gender or origin) can find everything necessary, providing quality of life and well-being.
The system puts into practice a methodology that quantifies and characterises centrality through a digital twin of the city. First, by means of a data consultancy directed at different departments of Barcelona city council, we have defined a taxonomy of the elements that create a centrality. Using publicly available information, we have developed a digital model of the city to guide and prioritize various policies at the urban level (evaluating and replicating this perspective over time).
The proximity environments are calculated from each residential plot, accounting for the capacity and level of service of the different public facilities around. Apart from the individual indicators (according to the different facilities identified in the previous taxonomy), the system also makes it possible to build clusters (groups resulting from the combination of various centrality variables) based on distinct criteria (population profile, frequency of use) with the ultimate goal of assessing their status and detecting possible deficits. Finally, the resulting model, clusters and indicators are published on a digital platform.
In conclusion, the idea of centrality helps diagnose and qualify public space to promote an active mobility infrastructure. Behind a more walkable city model, a healthier city is being promoted transversally (by facilitating non-sedentary lifestyles) and the transition towards low-carbon models.