Lola Domènech, architect: The current layout of the Barceloneta neighbourhood dates back to 1749. The new district was built on land that had been recovered from the sea since the XIV century. A military engineer was commissioned to carry out the project that was to house the people whose homes had been pulled down when the military fortress were built in the Ribera district. The barceloneta quickly became populated at the end of the XVII century during a period of urban growth. In the beginning the district faced directly onto the Barceloneta beach. However, when the new elevated Seaside promenade was built this created a barrier between the neighbourhood and its natural surroundings. In 1959 the construction of steps along with the Carmen Amaya fountain made the new Seaside Promenade readily accessible. The fountain paid homage to the dancer who was born in the old district of Somorrostro.
This tribute to the dancer Carmen Amaya for years dominated a small square in the Barceloneta, a dark and inhospitable corner, not worthy of her memory. The fountain was inaugurated by the dancer herself on February 16th 1959, right next to the old district of Somorrostro. When the new Seaside promenade was built this created a 3 metre high physical barrier between the Barceloneta neighbourhood and the beach. The steps which were built along with the Carmen Amaya fountain temporarily solved this problem of access to the new promenade.
However, over the years this urban space was neglected and deteriorated and became a meeting place for outcasts, unsafe and abandoned.
Given the deterioration and the marginal character of the surroundings of the Carmen Amaya fountain, the Council decided that it needed to intervene to improve and retrieve this space.
The refurbishment project had to take into account the following tenets: on the one hand, improve the district’s accessibility with the Seaside Promenade and on the other conserve and maintain the position of the Carmen Amaya fountain as an emblematic symbol of the neighbourhood.
The intervention takes into account both of these issues and overcomes the existing difference in height by means of a geometrically irregular ramp which begins at the low level of the Barceloneta and rises to the higher level of the Seaside promenade.
The ramp’s erratic path respects the original position of the fountain and pleasantly incorporates it into the new route. The steps of the staircase which ascends laterally, are prolonged lengthwise until they blend one by one into the inclined plane of the ramp. In this way an interesting dialogue is established between the ramp-staircase. One of the larger steps juts out from the rest to form a bench.
The dancer’s name now appears in the foreground printed in corten steel, along the entire length of the ramp.
The entire intervention was undertaken using just two materials: fair face concrete for the ramp, steps and containment walls and corten steel for the railings and specific claddings. Self compacting fair face concrete with wood formwork was used for the containment walls.
The lighting of the immediate surroundings was strategically solved using just two points of light and highlights the symbolic value of the fountain and the new space.
This intervention solves the issue of accessibility to the seaside promenade whilst at the same time conserving the existing fountain and turning a marginal space into a new urban scenery integrated into the neighbourhood.
“Projecting to a large extent means understanding and ordering” Peter Zumthor-architect
Lola Domènech, architect
Project full name: Refurbishment and Improvement of Surroundings – Carmen Amaya Fountain (Barceloneta Neighbourhood)
Landscape architecture: Lola Domènech, architect
Execution direction: Lola Domènech, architect / Modest Mor- engineer
Project collaborators: Boma-Carles Jaen-structures
Development company: Pla de Barris de la Barceloneta (Generalitat de Catalunya-Ajuntament de Barcelona)
Coordination project: FCV-Ajuntament de Barcelona
Area: 295 m2
Situation: la brugada-square- la barceloneta-Barcelona
Project management: Ciudad Hernansanz, S.L.
Budget: 200.092 €
Constructor: Teyco S.L:
Photographer: Adrià Goula