Barcelona Field Studies Centre

Barcelona: Urban Sprawl


Greenfield sites: Areas on the edge of the city which have never been developed in any way. These provide cheap, unpolluted land, with room for expansion.

Greenbelt: The green belt project in Barcelona aims at creating a continuous network of agricultural land and woodland around the city where development is controlled. The main aim is to prevent urban sprawl.

Changes Causes

• Change at the city edge

Car scrap-yards, fields of caravans, car-racing circuits, petrol stations, amusement parks, prisons, teleports, campsites, hotel complexes, golf courses, integrated goods-transport depots, water treatment plants, dumps, all go to make up today's chaotic metropolitan landscape. It is virtually impossible to distinguish between the urban and the rural (or non-urbanisable) land (both visually and legally).

• Growth of suburbs, e.g. Sant Just Desvern. Mature families move for improved housing and a higher quality of life

• New shopping malls: e.g. Gran Via 2, taking advantage of an increasing car-shopping culture

• Airport expansion: to cater for increase in flights, particularly for short-break tourism

• High-speed rail link to improve infrastructure



• Threats to greenbelt and countryside

• High-Tech Park (El Vallθs) and Synchrotron development

• Out-of-town shopping centres e.g. Caprabo

• Growth of urbanisations (residential estates) to provide for counter-urbanisation needs

• New university and business park (Viladecans and Castelldefels)

• New industrial estates e.g. Sant Boi, Castelldefels

• Landfill sites (Garraf Natural Park)

• Limestone quarrying (Garraf Natural Park)

• Increasing and damaging leisure use (Collserola Park)

• Increase in forest fires