In , with the Industrial Revolution well underway, the engineer Ildefons Cerdà, author of the Plan for the Reform and Extension of. Ildefons Cerda (December 23, – August 21, ) was an urban planner originally trained as a civil engineer who left his job in the civil engineering. Constricted by its medieval walls, Barcelona was suffocating – until unknown engineer Ildefons Cerdà came up with a radical expansion plan.

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In the mids, Barcelona was on the brink of collapse. An industrial city with a busy port, it had grown increasingly dense throughout the industrial revolution, mostly spearheaded by the ilxefons development of the textile sector.

The DNA of modern Barcelona – ()

The city was living at a faster pace than the rest of Spainand was ready to cerd a European capital. Yet its population ofstill lived in a tiny area, confined by its medieval walls.

With a density of inhabitants per hectare Paris had fewer than at the timethe rising mortality rates were higher than those in Paris and London; life expectancy had dropped to 36 years for the rich and just 23 years for the working classes.

The walls were becoming a health risk, almost literally suffocating the people of Barcelona — who were addressed directly in the following public statement of Demolition work would finally start a year later.

Now the city and the Spanish government had ildefohs design and manage the sudden redistribution of an overflowing population. By the early 19th century, the old walled city of Barcelona had become so crammed that the working classes, bourgeois society and factories all co-existed in the same space. As there was no more land left inside the city walls, all kinds of inventions were used to build more lodgings — houses were literally being created on empty space.


Traffic — in those days, horse-drawn carts — was problematic too: Cholera alone killed more than 13, people cerdq and The united area was almost four times the size of the old city which was around 2 sq km and would come to be known as Eixample.

Ildefons Cerdà

This unknown engineer was revolutionary in what ildefonx envisioned — but also in how he got there. So he was forced to do it himself. His was the first meticulous scientific study both of what a modern city was, and what it could aspire to be — not only as an efficient cohabiting space, but as a source of wellbeing not a straightforward concept back then.

He calculated the volume of atmospheric air one person needed to breathe correctly.

He detailed professions the population might idlefons, and mapped the services they might need, such as marketplaces, schools and hospitals. His work is still studied in Catalan schools to this day. Gardens in the centre of each street block; rich and poor accessing the same services; and smooth-flowing traffic were among his then revolutionary, even utopian-sounding ideas — many of which materialised to at least some extent although not the central gardens.

Even today, this design makes traffic circulation infinitely easier in Eixample. And yet, none of these ideas were well-received or appreciated in Barcelona at the time.

In fact, when the council originally opened a public competition for the extension plan init had awarded it to its chief architect, Antoni Rovira.


Ildefons Cerdà station

As it was impossible to oppose the rulings coming from Madrid, his opponents instead tried to discredit him ideologically and intellectually. With this explosion of modernism, an unspoken urban competitiveness emerged.

According to the artist, when asked how he wanted his house, a member of the bourgeoisie said: The engineer was a utopian socialist — and at the centre of his urbanism was a deep sense of equality and ildefond populist ildefojs. Over the following decades, Eixample grew with magnificent modernist buildings standing cheek by jowl with artisan homes demanding much cheaper rents.

Ramon Casasa painter who had grown up in a shadowy house in the old town, was one of the modernist artists who moved to this new district, and could often be seen strolling or riding a bike on its streets with fellow cultural figures. His palette changed with the new luminosity that Eixample balconies let in — showing, with art, how a whole city was ready to look, and step, outside.

These days, Barcelona is consistently praised as an urban success story.

Ildefons Cerdà – Wikipedia

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