Our final design & technology lecture was delivered by Alasdair MacDonald and was titled ‘A Future Conversation’. We discussed the future of energy generation, transport, and their effects on climate change.
The discussion of car-free cities reminded me of Barcelona’s recent work. Since 2014, it has been creating a series of ‘superblocks’ – areas zoned out for local car use only. The idea is that most vehicles, such as trucks and buses, cannot enter these superblocks and instead must drive around. Only residents may drive within their superblocks and the speed limit is 10kph, or 6mph. All parking is underground.
Barcelona has found that these local roads have transformed to pedestrian areas, with local markets and shops seeing increased business. Emissions have been significantly reduced.
Barcelona was designed to follow a strict grid structure in the 1859, but the superblock concept is not restricted to grids. We are seeing similar strategies in central London and other major cities globally. I think this offers an effective solution to congestion that can be implemented to existing cities with minor modifications. I can also imagine a future where these superblocks gradually get expanded and combined, phasing out cars in a gradual process.