The future of sustainable urban planning. Natural ventilation and insolation in Barcelona’s Cerdà Plan of Urban Expansion

Authors: Montserrat Pallares-Barbera*, Universitat Autonoma Barcelona, Meritxell Gisbert, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Department of Geography, Anna Badia, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Department of Geography
Topics: Urban and Regional Planning, Sustainability Science, Urban Geography
Keywords: Urban Planning, health, natural ventilation and insolation, grid orientation.
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 2:00 PM / 3:40 PM
Room: Madison A, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Cities are places with concentrated people with complex problems of livability related with density and climate changing conditions. Dealing with environment, there is no doubt that cities concentrate enormous amount of waste, enormous amount of emissions, but, otherwise, cities and urbanization provides a more efficient way to live; concentrating people in space allows delivering services at scale with less resources. The modern environmental approach demonstrated little capacity to problem solving. Changes are in order mainly to dramatically reduce cities’ dependency on fossil fuels, and to boost the deployment of renewable energies. Nevertheless, sustainable urbanization has the potential to help in a new era of well-being, and resource efficiency. To deal with the sustainability and quality of life of an urban area Ildefons Cerdà (1860) conceived an urban plan in such a way to obtain the maximum number of insolation and to capture healthy winds, in Barcelona in 1860. Cerdà’s plan postulated that positioning Barcelona’s pattern of streets and blocks exactly 45 degrees respect to the geographic North, allowed capturing the maximum hours of sun and catching beneficial winds coming from the sea. The objective of this paper is to demonstrate that natural ventilation and insolation are important variables to include into urban planning to increase quality of life and decrease the spending of natural resources. To do so, we first discuss the reasons behind the Cerdà urban planning proposition for capturing winds and insolation; and second to demonstrate the goodness of grid orientation for capturing winds.

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