Crowded Cities Search for Nature-Based Solutions for Residents' Well-Being

Sourced from the Christian Science Monitor

In a square in central Barcelona, families with young children perch at picnic tables as traffic thunders past and high-rise blocks loom above them.

But the concrete mecca that is Plaça de les Glòries Catalanes is about to undergo a major facelift that will create a new green public space for Spain’s second-largest city.

Starting this month, two underground tunnels will be built, funneling traffic away from the square, Marta Pigem Jubany, a spokeswoman for Barcelona City Hall, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Subsequently a new park will be constructed, including a lawn and children’s play area, an outdoor market, exotic gardens, water features, and a performing arts space.

In the city best known among tourists for its Las Ramblas shopping street, the regenerated zone will also feature a tree-lined avenue called the Rambla dels Encants (Boulevard of Charms).

It is not the only new park planned for Barcelona. In the north of the city, a 7.6 million-euro ($9.4 million) project begins in May to transform the grounds of a dilapidated early 20th century estate, known as Finca Ravetllat-Pla, into another green space.

Further afield, Madrid’s environment ministry embarked on a multi-million-euro project last year to expand the city’s parks, and cover walls and roofs with more greenery.

Meanwhile Italian architecture firm Stefano Boeri Architetti has had plans approved for France’s first vertical forest on the outskirts of Paris, featuring a 177 ft wooden tower block decked in trees, shrubs, and plants.

Access to nature

Cities are increasingly looking for ways to provide more greenery, as migration to urban areas rises and a growing body of scientific evidence indicates that being close to nature is good for people.

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