Talking of the La Salut Market Square is to speak about the neighborhood of La Salut. It is a peripheral quarter of Badalona, a big council attached to Barcelona. It grew strongly in the 60’s and 70’s with immigration from the south of Spain, and recently strong identity problems have emerged due to a high rate of new immigration from all over the world. It is also to speak about the market building by the architect Josep Maria Sostres, built in 1980. An auto referential building with great plastic and intellectual power, it dominates and has become the frame of reference when describing the square.
Before the intervention the square had a closed space configuration with access from the sides of the market building. It was divided into parallel and stepped platforms. It was closed off by a low concrete wall and a ventilation outlet that served the shop units beneath the square. It had become a residual space.
Giving identity to the whole center through this “forgotten” space, giving it presence, providing it with the required functions and reflecting the complexity of the environment – these are the goals of the intervention.
From the analysis of the context the intervention materialises around three basic ideas:
The space of the square was conceived originally as a consequence of the differences of alignment between the market, the Marquès de Sant Mori Avenue and Quevedo Street, a residual space. It should be borne in mind that this was a service space without access to the building. A new access door to the building on this side was later formed, which through time became the main entrance, so the square had to be reorganised. In spite of originally being a space without identity, the successive transformations of the neighborhood in social standard, public facilities and infrastructures have given it a new presence. The intervention is a process of “emptying” the space. Where before there was a superimposition of fixed elements (walls, street lamps, stairs, benches, shrubs…) now there is geometry, flows of people. It is a dynamic space.
The new square responds to a great number of circulation flows. The building, with its main access to the north, generates the entry and exit on market days. The La Salut Civic Centre (on the first floor) is accessed from the existing ramp. There is also the importance of the main cross, the convergence of Marquès de Sant Antoni Avenue and Quevedo Street, which includes underground parking and bus stops. On the pavements, the exits of the L9 underground station have recently been installed. We opted to simplify to the maximum the form of the square, reducing it to an inclined plane defined by its triangular limits. It is an isotropic space where itineraries are not prioritised and where free flow is facilitated.
The space responds to the different uses that can be accommodated; circulation space, encounter, meet, play… On a bigger scale it is about the new centrality into the neighbourhood. The project also represents the social diversity of the neighborhood, with the high immigrant population, both recent and established. From the limits of the triangular space an abstract composition is defined by geometry, a grid above the inclined plane which reflects the complexity of the context. A composition of colors that confers character and singularity has been superimposed. To reinforce the abstract effect drainage has been solved with some slot drains integrated into the grid.
Design: Vora arquitectura (Pere Buil Castells i Toni Riba Galí)
project team: Eva Cotman, Anna Malaguti, Ondrej Fabian
Location: av Marquès de Sant Mori, Badalona, Spain
Area: 1.000 m2
Construction: may 2009 – december 2009
Structure: Eskubi-turró (Juan Ignacio Eskubi)
Services: Gecsa (Tono Trias)
Building coordination architects: Vora arquitectura (Toni Riba Galí)
Promoter: Ajuntament de Badalona
Photographs: Adrià Goula Sardà