Portal de la Pau Square

  • Location_ Passeig de Colom, Barcelona
  • Total Floor Area_ 9.600 m2
  • Budget_
  • Date_ 1998
  • Client_ Autoritat portuària de Barcelona
  • Awards_
  • Consultants_

The end of La Rambla near the sea has, throughout history, been used primarily for port activities. Portal de la Pau is the emblematic meeting point of the city and its port, historically representing entrance to the city from the harbour. The transformation of the old harbour, Port Vell, in the nineties to introduce new urban uses also made this concourse the entrance to the harbour from the city. 

The project took the idea of extending the city into the port as its departure point. The aim with this new plaza was to situate the greatest complexity and public activity on the wharf side. The walkway to the Moll d’Espanya wharf, the steps down to the water, the moorings of the pleasure boats, Las Golondrinas, and, in short, vistas of the new landscape of the Port 2000 operation are the main features of the space, so the remodelling project aimed to be neutral. Great pains were taken to ensure that the new elements would not compete with the tension created along the waterfront. The project therefore addressed the unitary image of the plaza and the necessary segregation of the port’s road traffic.

The construction of the Ronda Litoral ring road produced an irregular descent from the plaza to the sea. The geometry of the new plaza is divided into three different slopes to make up the differences in level.

The plaza is paved with basalt rock from Olot, a dark paving that offers a discreet background and prevents the glare of the sun. The characteristics of this stone allow two different views: an overview in which little seems to have changed and a close-up where the different nuances, tones and textures showcase all the intensity of the transformation.

The lighting centres on the limits of the space, giving rise in the centre of the plaza to an area of half-light. On one side it picks out the edge of the wharf, the steps and the surface of the water; on the other, the waterfront along Passeig de Colom and the façades of the building that houses the Port Authority. Spot lighting is arranged on the sea to create a great surface of reflected light that seemingly extends the paving of the plaza. Lighting is also used as signposting in the case of the two main channels of circulation: vehicles and pedestrians, the latter from La Rambla to the walkway across the sea to the Moll d’Espanya wharf.