The backbone of the Sants neighbourhood has historically been the carretera de Sants, one of the longest streets in Barcelona, which connects the Plaça d’Espanya with Hospitalet de Llobregat. The neighbourhood developed along this street, turning its back on the railway line, which has always represented a break in the neighbourhood’s urban continuity. The arrival of the high-speed train and the covering of the railway tracks, with the construction of a raised garden from the Plaça de Sants to carrer de la Riera Blanca, created a new open, public green space, which is aimed at a regeneration of the neighbourhood by providing new civic uses and restoring the connection between the north and south sides of the neighbourhoods. Sociological studies have shown how, before the construction on the park and carrer Capmany began, there were few movements crossing the covered tracks.
Because of the sloping park and the opening of carrer Antoni Capmany, the connections on foot between carrer Burgos, the market and the Cavall Bernat school are safer and easier.
The first phase, which has already been completed, consisted in the urban development of carrer Antoni de Capmany, which runs parallel to the tracks on the north side at a lower level, in order to make it into a single flat-surfaced street where pedestrians have priority, the transformation of spaces adjoining the train cover on the north side, and the remodel of some underpasses. The second ongoing phase is based on the urban development and provision of uses for the roof area – 700 metres long and between 25 and 50 metres wide – and the remodel of the adjoining spaces on the south side, as well as the placeta de Ramon Torres Casanova, through the installation of ramps, landscaped slopes, stairs and mechanised access points, which will improve connectivity from one side of the tracks to the other, on and on a raised level. The intervention includes green space and relaxation areas with porch areas to shade areas for activities, children’s play areas, sports circuits and senior activities, cafés with outdoor terraces, kiosks, public services and street furniture, among other elements. The third and final phase will consist of resolving the connection with elements on the south side, which will be carried out in the medium and long term because it involves modifications to the planning framework.
The program of microdevelopments has helped implement low-cost interventions in unused land owned by the municipality in order to favour urban renewal, social revitalisation and, in many cases, a renaturalisation of the city. All of the microdevelopments have improved spaces between 200 and 6,000 square metres in size. The actions undertaken have been spread out homogeneously across all Barcelona’s districts, and the overall result has been an increase in relaxation areas, green areas and new light- ing elements. In certain cases, pétanque courts or basketball courts, childrens’ playgrounds and dog runs have been installed. The Urban Design Department at Urban Habitat commissioned the projects to teams of young architects, who adapted the chosen spaces in collaboration with district representatives. The projects were allocated budgets between €60,000 and €120,000, which represents a very low construction cost calculated per square meter: between €14 and €300.