príncep de girona gardens, barcelona
Cerdà's design for the Eixample included a series of green areas as facilities for the area. However, the new city gradually became more and more built up, putting paid to his initial plans. Today, no parks can be created in this area without first demolishing large buildings on sites which are turned to other uses and transformed into public spaces. This is the case of the Jardins del Príncep de Girona, on the site of a former military barracks.
With a surface area of just over two hectares, the project for the new gardens is based around the tree-lined space that was the central courtyard of the barracks. The original square court has been enlarged appreciably, maintaining the existing plane trees and creating a large central esplanade for all kinds of future activities.
The esplanade contains a 1,900 m² stretch of water which, with its changing interplay of light and reflections, becomes the focus of attention for both the gardens and the neighbourhood. Clumps of pine trees arranged around the water shelter benches and create areas of light and shade which set the spaces apart without discouraging their use by larger groups of people.
A series of stepped gardens and clumps of bushes reminiscent of traditional farmed terraces resolve the differences in level between this central esplanade and the avenues leading off it. Each group of terraces is occupied by a single species of plant with specific colour and flowering characteristics, so that the gardens are dotted with colour almost all year round to become a living, changing landscape.
But to ensure that the gardens become a meeting point for local people, they have to be judiciously connected with their setting. Four ramps of natural stone link the closest streets to the centre of the space. Other straight-lined, wood-paved secondary avenues connect a series of platforms, also made of wood, which are situated among the flower beds, offering quiet spots for meditation.