Cerdà and Barcelona: The need for a new city and service provision

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22 Citations (Scopus)


This paper examines Ildefons Cerdà's 1860 Plan for the Urban Expansion of Barcelona; specifically, how and why it was conceived in a unique way, in which the provision of services to the population was an important part. Cerdà based his expansion proposal on an in-depth socio-statistical study of old Barcelona's population conditions. The high mortality rates of the working-class population and poor health and education conditions pushed Cerdà to design a new type of urban planning, which he defined as "urbanism". In his proposal for the new city, he planned the location of services such as marketplaces, schools and hospitals. The first part of this paper introduces the urban and political preconditions of Barcelona and the statistics on which Cerdà based his contribution. The second part uses location theory and a geographic information system (GIS) to analyse the pattern of location and the population served by markets and hospitals. In addition, topographic maps from 1926 and 1975 are used to study the development of the expansion up to when it was fully developed. The evolution of the city differed from Cerdà's proposal, partly due to unexpected increases in population density, the built environment, and higher amounts of building occupation. Nevertheless, Cerdà's layout of streets and avenues has prevailed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)122-136
JournalUrbani Izziv
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011


  • GIS
  • Location theory
  • Optimisation
  • Spatial decision support system
  • Urban planning
  • Wellbeing


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