Salvador Rueda

Rethinking cities in key of sustainability

BCNecologia (Barcelona)

Rethinking cities in key of sustainability

BCNecologia (Barcelona)

Salvador Rueda is the founder and active Director of the Urban Ecology Agency of Barcelona, a public consortium dedicated to rethink cities in key of sustainability. BCNecologia developes strategic projects aimed at reorienting cities to a more sustainable model transferable to urban systems from anywhere in the world. The projects include proposals and solutions for mobility, energy, waste, urban planning, water, biodiversity and social cohesion.

Salvador Rueda has held managerial positions in the Planning department, Government of Catalonia (la Generalitat de Cataluña) as well as with the Municipalities of Barcelona and Sant Adrià de Besòs. Rueda is the author of several books, scientific and technical articles, and is responsible for the development and extension of sustainable practices on the urban environment.

He is a commissionar and scientific advisor for many national and international conferences.

He is a major contributer to various masters and postgraduate courses, as well as to congresses both nationally and internationally.

From 1994-2000, he was a member of the Expert Group on the Urban Environment (Grupo de Expertos de Medio Ambiente Urbano) in the European Union.

Salvador Rueda

The Superblock

a new model of mobility that restructures the typical urban road network. With its implementation, Superblocks provide solutions to the main problems of urban mobility and improves both the availability and quality of the public space for pedestrian traffic. In order to achieve these goals for mobility, two fundamental changes must be made: modification to the basic road network and the establishment of differentiated routes for each mode of transport.

Superblocks are made up of a grid of basic roads forming a polygon, some 400 by 400 meters, with both interior and exterior components. The interior (intervía) is closed to motorized vehicles and above ground parking, and gives preference to pedestrian traffic in the public space. Though the inner streets are generally reserved for pedestrians, they can be used by residential traffic, services, emergency vehicles, and loading/unloading vehicles under special circumstances. The perimeter, or exterior, of Superblocks is where motorized traffic circulates, and makes up the basic roads.

The Superblock is emerging as an integral solution to the use of public space, uniting urban planning with mobility, and limiting the presence of private vehicles in order to return the public space to the citizen. The importance of the citizen, or the simple pedestrian, gives meaning to the revolutionary structure of the superblock: each grid section has universal accessibility, there is increased safety due to a 10 km/hr speed limit, and there is the potential to increase the habitability and comfort of citizens in public spaces.

Ultimately, the application of the Superblock significantly improves urban quality while reducing the environmental impacts of vehicles. It also increases the quality of life of residents and visitors, enhances social cohesion and increases economic activity.

The fact that it is not necessary to implement major changes in urban planning, such as the restructuring of urban parks, makes the model of the Superblock an essential tool for mobility, capable of improving the lives people in cities of any type.

Superblocks are currently constructed (or approved for construction) in several, topologically diverse Spanish cities. The city of Vitoria-Gasteiz was the winner of the European Green Capital Prize 2012 and Plan for Mobility and Public Space, and has been rated Best Practice by Un-Habitat. The cities of El Prat, Viladecans, A Coruña and Ferrol are located in different districts of Barcelona, such as the 22 @ and Gràcia and are also home to the Superblock. In Gràcia, Superblocks achieved first prize for their innovation from BMW in 2011 and were recognized as a sustainable Best Practice by Un-Habitat in 2010.

Ivo Valkenburg

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