A new Reality for a Quarter that has fallen behind

A new Reality for a Quarter that has fallen behind

Parc Central de Nou Barris

An alien, geometrical landscape by Arriola & Fiol arquitectes becomes the hub for Barcelona’s city expansion.

Not even two kilometers away from downtown  Barcelona you will find the quarter of Nou Barris. Here, at the beginning of the 19th century, all there was were little farms, until the ones in charge at Barcelona’s local authorities decided to build Spain’s second largest psychiatry.

Already in 1950 the asylum was considered outdated, and in 1988 it was finally re-used as a local authority building of the quarter. During that time many residential houses were built here, so cultivation pressure increased on the free areas. Eventually, people wanted a park that was supposed to give the place a new identity without tuning out the historical background. The design made by Arriola & Fiol arquitectes was able to satisfy these requirements. Parc Central de Nou Barris turned out to not only be a city park, but it also served as a crucial link between the individual city quarters. In 2007 the park was completed after a construction period of eight years.

Fragmentation becomes the Order of the Day

Central de Nou Barris park spreads across an area of 166,000 square meters. It has devoured a budget of about 16 million Euro. During its realization the architects from Arriola & Fiol arquitectes had to face two big challenges: The access system had to be expanded, and a downtown connection had to be established. For this to be realized, the heavily varying topography with height differences of up to 3.50 meters had to be integrated into the plans.

In a first step the building wings of the former psychiatry were demolished, only the axial structure of what’s the administration building today and the library were kept.

The staggered topography was caught with geometrical areas at various heights. They were built as ramps and face each other openly. The ramps have inclined side walls and their design is  adjusted to serve their purpose: The large-area ramps near the residential buildings contain playgrounds or playing areas, while the green areas inside the park rather serve as recreation zones with steps to sit on.

The problem of connection was solved through a thoroughfare cutting the park in half almost exactly in the middle. The two parts are connected through a generous wooden deck for pedestrians.  Other smaller wooden decks can be found across the whole park, usually in the form of expansions at roads or as floating isles on the water.

The idea of the geometrical landscape does not only provide a well-made solution with the topography, but also creates a new reality at this place with its rich structure and the “colorful” cultivation.

The Elements of the Park

The park’s spatial extension elements are water basins, wooden decks, rows and groups of trees as well as art installations.

Remains of the former water reservoir have been integrated into the design of the new city park and also have been re-interpreted. The up to 3.5 m deep basins are filled with trick fountains, wooden decks or relics such as a viaduct and can be accessed via stairs.

In order to divide the area into further parts, 2,000 trees of 30 local types have been planted.   They separate park and streets, increase the geometry or simply provide shadow.

The oversized installations remind of palm leaves, marking the park entrances. The art objects of wood and fiber glass are called “tuning forks” by the locals and also dominate the park’s logo. Their unusual shape does not only attract visitors during the day, but also at night thanks to light reflections.

The layout of the installation seems to be consisting of many small parts at first, however, the whole concept is held together through its strict shape and homogenous coloring.

Role of free Space Planning

Parc Central de Nou Barris shows: A free area can be an important link for the whole city.  A city park needs to take care of the requirements of its environment and it definitely needs to be designed in a sustainable manner. This is what Arriola & Fiol arquitectes have succeeded in here. The integration of water reservoirs could become a role model of how to deal with park design with sustainability in mind.

Project details


Arriola & Fiol


Year of construction: 2007


166,000 sqm


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llfljb7's picture
llfljb7 4. March 2014 - 8:57

I wanted to thank you for your time that you put in and for this wonderful post.These are of great help to us . Thank you for your wonderful sharing.

Zoe.Scarfe's picture
Zoe.Scarfe 22. April 2016 - 14:56

The place looks so beautiful because of all the greenery surrounding it. The authorities need to maintain this place properly and for this they should take help of professionals. For instance, to keep the lawn beautiful and neat they should hire a good company which provides lawn care in Jacksonville FL.

maria.a.early's picture
maria.a.early 5. May 2016 - 12:45

The place looks unique and it does inspire other architects to find inspiration to create something different. There are many custom home building companies around, you can hire any one of these to build your dream house. But you also have to hire a good plumber arlington ma area to fix plumbing issues.