The Catalan architecture and landscape studio SCOB completed a remodeling project for the historic city center of Ódena, located near Barcelona. The project is based on a new structure that organizes and defines the public space according to criteria of simplicity and formal clarity – while still referring to history and heritage.
From road crossing to meeting point
Prior to its remodeling, Ódena’s Plaza Mayor was actually not a square at all, but simply a central space where the six main streets that intersect the old city center met and converged.
To reverse the image of a road junction where cars were the protagonists and left only the remaining urban spaces to pedestrians, the project team extended a uniform stone paving throughout the entire area. This surface material does not specialize or delimit, but instead joins all the spaces of the square into one that allows people to move easily, safely and with priority over vehicles.
To resolve important level changes and achieve areas with softer slopes for use as meeting places (mainly in front of the Church and the City Hall), a common system is used that is deployed throughout the area in the form of stands or stairs. These new places, in turn, become shared benches, playgrounds, meeting spaces and meeting points. The result is a continuous public space, well connected and essentially devoid of obstructions, ready to become the stage upon which a renewed urban community life is projected.
A legacy that remains
The town of Òdena is located on the border between two geological formations comprising clay and marl. The encounter between them is beneficial to the presence of chalk, a material that characterizes the geology of the place. This mineral, with its typical grey-whitish hues, is employed as a reference to the town and its close links to landscape, history and social development. The project features white lines that create partitions within the uniform paving that spreads across the plaza. They also emphasize the color scheme, symbolizing and enhancing the meaning the town has possessed for generations. As a result, the town now has its own representative memorial space at the Plaza Mayor.
Guidelines for future public spaces
The economic situation of small towns such as Òdena does not allow them to devote many resources to the maintenance of public space. Once they obtain a subsidy or other help to carry out a project, they must ensure that the desired functionality, the quality of the materials, the proposed technical solutions and their implementation are as successful as possible, in order to ensure use, durability and low maintenance costs.
The commission, therefore, not only included providing a solution for the plaza as a central and symbolic element of the town, but also developing a system of interventions in the public space (pavement, furniture, lighting, trees, facilities, etc.) that could extend, in the future, to other streets within the urban core.
Authors: SCOB. Sergi Carulla and Oscar Blasco
Location: Ódena. Barcelona.
Data: 5,100 m2, 1,186,481.16 €
Promoter: City Hall of Ódena
Team: C. Ruiz, S. Sana, G. Yubero, A. Montesinos, M. Usai
Photography: Adrià Goula