Society 27/05/2022

Barcelona's future green sea front will go from the Mar Bella to the Fòrum

The reform will knock down the wall that separates the beaches from the city, and will be executed after the local elections

3 min
The connection with the Delgado promenade and the Forum baths

BarcelonaThat the 1992 Games opened Barcelona to the sea is a Barcelona urban planning cliché. But the opening was made mainly in the central part of the city and the sides for later. Then came mega projects such as the Forum to bring together parts of the areas which had been left behind. And now the city council claims that it is beginning the transformation of the last stretch of the city's coastline: the one that goes from Mar Bella beach to the Forum and, therefore, connects Barcelona with Sant Adrià de Besòs. Deputy mayor for Urbanism, Janet Sanz, considers it a "historic debt", and says that the Council seeks to put an end to the car park that was in front of the beaches – already closed down during the pandemic – and have a new "park-promenade".

In this area, a new 12-metre wide promenade is now planned. It includes plenty of plants and will be designed taking into account possible rises in sea level. The promenade will link the neighbourhoods of Diagonal Mar, the Front Marítim del Poblenou and the Besòs and Maresme. One of the main goals of the reform will be to eliminate the current change in level – "the wall" – between the beach and the promenade, by means of ramps and steps, to make everything more accessible. And, also, as a protection measure in case sea level rise, with permeable soil (in 65% of the area), tree species designed for the seafront and with sloping design which means the beach reach further inland. In fact, one of the changes that will go hand in hand with this transformation is to bring beach bars further inland so that the beach and all its uses, such as sports and children's games, enjoy more space.

Next to the new promenade there will be a four-metre wide lane for bicycles and a strip with sports courts and playgrounds is also planned to try to liberate space on the Mar Bella beach and "lengthen the beach towards the city" with the idea of protecting it from the effects of climate change. According to Sanz, the role model is El Prat beaches, where natural slopes have been created. "Making resilient a very fragile part of the city," in the deputy mayor's words.

The project affects a total of 11 hectares and passes through the platform that was to house the marine zoo, but only to modify the edge and connect it with the promenade. This will not condition either its current uses – concerts such as Primavera Sound can continue being held – or anything else the city may decide in the future. City Council authorities have also remarked that the new promenade would not impede possible future works to cover the Litoral ring road along this stretch.

In the next government's hands

The forecast is that this transformation can begin at the end of next year and will involve an investment of €44.3m, but the decision will be in the government's hands that comes out of the municipal elections, which is who will have to decide whether the whole change is done in three phases, as for example is projected.

The operation also includes a new connection between the promenade and the Rambla de Prim and the Fòrum baths. This should allow continuity to be given to a route that today end at Bac de Roda so that it may reach the Forum. In total, more than 800 trees will be planted along the promenade to create new shade, 68,000 square meters of green areas will be created and 65% of the area will have permeable paving

Artist's impression of what the link between the promenade and the beaches will look like

Provisional action

Until transformation works begin, provisional action will be carried out, which is one of the demands arising from the participatory process that was carried out on the reform. This summer there will be two beach volleyball courts attached to the Poblenou - Agapito Fernández Municipal Soccer Field, which will be added to the existing one. And, for next year, the beach bars will be relocated to their definitive place.

"What used to be a crazy parking lot will become a family space where you can play sports," celebrated Sant Martí district councillor, socialist David Escudé, who assured that this transformation is in line with the spirit of the Pavelló Blau project, which seeks to promote the practice of sports on the seafront, in the area from Port Vell to Port del Fòrum. Sanz, in turn, has focused on the objective of giving a more "civic" use to the entire coastal strip. Sanz claimed that the transformation follows the same line as, for example, the removal of clubs from the Olympic Port or the project for the new Liceu Mar where the Imax used to be.