Ódena's town square by SCOB
A new focal point
SCOB Architects reveal the power that architecture and urban design can offer in the creation of identity and place. Ódena is a small municipality located in the province of Barcelona near Igualada. A confusing and incoherent public space was re-imagined by SCOB. Founded by Sergi Carulla and Oscar Blasco in 2005 SCOB architecture and landscape studio, has developed numerous projects that combine both disciplines located in Barcelona and around Catalonia. The following description was provided by the architects.
The remodelling of the old city centre of Ódena is based on establishing a new structure that organises and defines its public space based on simplicity and formal clarity. The project involves extending a uniform stone paving throughout the included area, in which vehicles and pedestrians can coexist, giving priority however to the latter.
Prior to its remodelling, Ódena’s Plaza Mayor was not in fact a square at all but simply the meeting point where the six main streets that cut across the old city centre intersect and converge. This condition, together with the marked slope, between the northern and southern ends, turned the place into a nondescript space of road crossings leaving some small, scattered and isolated pockets. Day to day use of the town centre was thus very divided, greatly hampering the development of community life.
To counteract the image of a road junction designed solely for cars with only the leftover spaces provided for pedestrians a uniform stone paving approach throughout the whole affected area was proposed for the project. This treatment does not prescribe or delimit but instead joins all the spaces of the square into one through which people can move easily, safely, given priority over vehicles. To resolve the significant level changes, and achieve areas with less steep slopes, for use as meeting places (mainly in front of the Church and the City Hall), a unified system is used that is featured throughout the area in the form of steps or ramps. These new places, in turn, become shared benches, playgrounds, meeting spaces and places to hang our. The result is a continuous public space, well connected and essentially empty, ready to become the stage on which, a renewed urban community life is projected
Geology and identity. A lastung legacy.
The town of Òdena is located on the border between two geological formations: vitrified stone and marlstone. This convergence favours the presence of chalk, a material that characterises the geology of the location. There is a chalk quarry in Òdena, in active use since the 19th century till today. The castle and the town walls enclosure date from the 10th century, located on a projecting mound of this stone that is also used as the predominant construction material. With its typical grey-whitish hues, the stone is a feature of the town and is closely linked to its landscape, its history and its social development.
The whiteness of the stone that is so representative of the town emerges from the fractures made by the project to break down and unfold the uniform paving that extends across the plaza, symbolising and defining this place over generations, and which now has its own memorial within the Plaza Mayor.
A system that can be repeated. Guidelines for future public spaces.
The budget constraints of small towns like Òdena prevents them from devoting great financial resources for the maintenance of public space, so any urban project must ensure the optimum functionality, quality materials, reliable design solutions and flawless construction in order to ensure proper use, longevity and low maintenance costs.
The project commission, therefore, was not only to provide a solution for the town square as a central and symbolic element of the municipality, but also to develop a system of interventions in the public space (pavements, furniture, lighting, trees, facilities, construction techniques, etc.) that could be rolled out in the future to other surrounding streets.
- SCOB Architecture and Landscape
- photography: Adrià Goula