Mar is a residential and commercial district located on the coast within the
Barcelona urban area. The residential development has a 35-acre park, three
lakes, and walking and biking trails but is effectively a gated community, with
a semi-private atmosphere.
Diagonal Mar: a social and physical barrier
The development has generated distrust amongst neighbouring
communities, particularly La Mina, a residential
district with the greatest social deprivation in the Barcelona metropolitan
area. Just 600 metres from La Mina, the park and buildings are surrounded by
large fences that create a sense of exclusion. At night, when the gates are
locked, the district becomes a barrier, effectively sealing off access to the
sea for communities inland.
Gated communities are a rarity in Spain, but they are
increasing rapidly elsewhere in Europe. In the U.S. they represent an average of
10% of the new homes market, and more than 30% in the suburbs. They represent a
form of urbanisation where public space is privatized. They differ from
condominiums and secured apartment complexes because they include public
infrastructures and spaces behind the gates, which can otherwise be used by
everyone, such as parks. Their promotion by the real-estate industry often
focuses on exclusiveness, protection of families in a secluded environment, and
leisure facilities such as private parks.
Diagonal Mar Gated Community
• There is no through traffic. The neighbourhood is safer for children.
• Gated communities can be safer from crime.
• Homeowners have private and exclusive access to sites.
• Property values in large gated communities show a better resistance to
• Provides the public authorities with wealthy taxpayers, at no cost.
• The development can assist the social, environmental and economic
regeneration of a neglected and run-down inner city district of abandoned
factories and decaying homes.
• The gating acts as a border between the public
and private systems and helps to fragment the city.
• The general public are denied access to public infrastructures and spaces
when the gates are locked.
• Gated communities can create social paranoia due to the security-oriented
• The poorest social classes see a decline in their access to public spaces
in the city.
• Access control and security features represent a substantial cost for the
homeowner. The Diagonal Mar park maintenance costs, however, are met by the city
• Gating can lead to a relocation of crime outside the gates and within
adjacent non-gated communities.
• Gating can have a negative impact on property values in non-gated
adjacent neighbourhoods. This may lead to further preventive gating developments
in a neighbourhood, as former non-gated communities have to fit gates in order
to maintain their property values and avoid crime relocation. This explains the
typical U.S. gated community clustered distribution pattern.