Llobregós – Can Mateu

  • LOCATION Gualba
  • > CLIENT Private
  • YEAR 2020
  • STATUS In process
  • CATEGORY Urban Planning
  • SCALE Neighbourhood

“The protection of the urban and historical heritage can coexist with the growth of the neighbourhood”

Located on a steeply sloping plot near the Rovira tunnel, this urban planning project consisting in modifying the planning of Llobregós Street and the descent of Can Mateu stands out for the amount of housing and green spaces in favour of the conservation and improvement of the area around the emblematic houses of the laundrywomen of Horta (‘Les bugaderes d’Horta’). From OUA’s Urban Planning Department, Jordi Artigas and Núria Noguer explained to us the project.

What is the history of the houses of the laundrywomen of Horta (‘Les bugaderes d’Horta’)?
In Barcelona, from the beginning of the 17th century until well into the 20th century, most homes did not have running water or adequate space for washing clothes, and people had to do their laundry outside their homes, in public washing places or by hiring laundrywomen. Due to its location at the foot of the Collserola mountain range, the municipality of Horta enjoyed abundant sources of water from the creeks and mountain streams that flowed down from the mountain, as well as plenty of sun, wind and space to spread out clothes. This led some of the women of the neighbourhood to change the activity of washing clothes into a profession that for generations had a strong presence in the neighbourhood and still exists in some groups of houses.

What does the project consist of?
A legal and urban planning reinterpretation has been carried out to rearrange the space. This plan enables to protect and enhance the value of these houses, preventing them from being demolished or building around them thanks to a new green space. The project works clearly on a neighbourhood scale, improving the axes connecting Horta with the rest of the city by extending and adapting the Llobregós Street. Finally, the volumetric volumes are arranged on the descent of Can Mateu with a private urban intervention that provides new housing in the neighbourhood.

When facing urban planning projects like this one, what is the most important thing?
The research and investigation of the context of the district Horta-Guinardó – and more specifically of the neighbourhood and its direct surroundings – has allowed us to understand the urgent need to protect the heritage by modifying the current approach. This research process is very important in all urban planning projects as it is the only way to understand how we can add value to the context without spoiling it and taking advantage of the greatest possible benefits. Each environment is unique and different, and urban planning is responsible for adapting to these precise needs in each case.

What is the specificity of the area? And how does the project dialogue with the area?
The Horta neighbourhood is located within the special protection area of the atmospheric environment of the Metropolitan Region of Barcelona. This atmospheric protection area includes forty municipalities in the Barcelonès, Baix Llobregat, Vallès Occidental and Vallès Oriental regions that exceed the pollution levels of the European Directive on the quality of the environment. In this sense, the creation of a new green space not only protects the area around the emblematic houses but also contributes to improving air quality in order to comply with the values laid down in the legislation.

Can the protection of urban and historical heritage coexist with the growth of a neighbourhood?
Yes, it is possible to continue building houses without damaging the environment but enhancing their value. Interpreting and knowing the regulations in the field of urban planning, and modifying them, if necessary, provides balanced solutions for controlled and sustainable growth.