Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Plaça Lesseps (1)

"A tots els que vam fer que una altra plaça Lesseps fos possible."

Plaça Lesseps is named after French consul Ferdinand-Marie de Lesseps (1805 -1894) who resided on the square. It was once popularly known as "Josepets", after the 1626 Carmelite convent of Santa Maria de Gràcia, Els Josepets. Also on this square is Cases Ramos (Jaume Torres i Grau, 1906), an example of Catalan modernisme. Plaça Lesseps has undergone complete remodelling according to a brief finalized in December 2002, which included the need to reduce private transport at this already busy intersection, the restoration of the natural slope of the square, the opening out of space for pedestrian use, and an improvement in connecting the neighbourhoods (Gràcia and Sarrià-Sant Gervasi) otherwise carved apart by the Ronda General Mitre and Travessera de Dalt. Architects Albert and David Viaplana and civil engineer Joaquim Pasqual are named as the principals in the permanent exhibition on Barcelona's urban development at Edifici Forum. The formal inauguration of the rebuilt square took place on 5 April 2009.

When I first stayed in this part of Barcelona in autumn 2008 the place was still a good approximation to a vast hole in the ground. But overnight mature trees would sprout up whole, areas found themselves repaved and another stretch of road tarmacked and painted, new signs and lamposts erected. Returning in May I admired the articulation of space and sense of movement in the completed square. Two decked areas reminscent of the prow and stern of a ship overhang either end of the tunnel and the seemingly peculiar arrangement of posts and ironwork act on a scale to unify the square and to trace, along with the passage of traffic, its major axes. Further work on the new metro line L9 is still in progress.
For an informative appreciation of this square from a little later in August 2009 see this Urban Squares entry (Aleksandar Janicijevic).

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