The first step was to remove vehicular traffic by concentrating all the road connections and services on the south-east side of the squares, thereby freeing up a generously expansive central space for citizens’ use.
The space, which is very irregular in shape and which has a strongly marked perimeter, is geometrically structured and arranged through the use of a single material for the paving (granite) throughout the squares, the various areas within them being distinguished by distinctive formats. All the lighting elements and street furniture are arranged in accordance with the lines established by the stretch of paving.
In keeping with the zone’s tradition, the main building materials are stone and wood; two materials in a relatively untreated “natural state” (they have not undergone any major industrial processing).
The work had to be conducted at ground level due to the existence of an old cemetery in Plaça dels Herois, which prompted the design of two large beds for plants running lengthwise – each of them dubbed a ‘natural meander’, the project’s motto – and slightly raised so that they could be filled with sufficient earth for planting trees in. The original trees are replanted in the square.
Between them, they create a long urban feature that both protects the area from the hustle and bustle of the traffic-bearing road and acts as a filter between them, while emphasising the physical and visual border of the squares themselves.
The programme called for a fountain to be installed; a decision was taken to locate it next to a centuries-old tree that dominates the square. By incorporating good drainage, water from the fountain is used to irrigate the centuries old tree.
The original street lights are adjusted to reduce light pollution and are relocated in the square. Because of the specialised local labour force and the speed of execution, the work was carried out at low cost, and the squares are now seen as a properly appointed place that encourages people to enjoy a quiet moment and to meet up with others; a peaceful space that allows the architecture of their surroundings to speak, the choir of traditional buildings that serve as their backdrop.Location: Puigcerdà (Girona), Spain Architect: Pepe Gascón Arquitectura
Project name: Remodelling of Plaça Santa Maria and Plaça dels Herois in Puigcerdà (Spain)
Area: 1450,00 m2
Completion date: September 2009
Photographer: Eugeni Pons
Client: Municipality of Puigcerdà (Girona), Spain