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A project that began as an exploration of the dynamic impact of trees on the streets of Poblenou district, Barcelona, Shadow Play developed into a reimagined design strategy both in the footprint of a building and as a larger urban network. Different species of trees provide a rich palette of colors, canopies, and habitats that can be strategically arranged to activate the urban condition. Species could be used to create a focal point for design intervention or be implemented at a grand scale to create a continuous canopy during the intense summer heat. As the season changes to the winter months, the leaves will begin to descend to the pavement. This creates a progressively layered canopy effect on the treetops while using the pavement below as a canvas.

 This project was implemented in two parts. The first stage of design was the implementation of trees species with colorful plumes to create focal points in the large, vacant lots in Poblenou. For this purpose, Prunus Serrulata and Jicarandi Mimi trees were used for their brilliant colors. Using the concentric circles emerging from the spacing required for these trees to bloom, large sweeping structures began to form within these large districts. These became an urban park, and education center, and an arts center to draw in the community.

The Influence of Trees

In Pablenou, there was a clear relationship between urban activity and the broken tree network. The areas that are most populated with vegetation shelter the streets from the sweltering heat, while allowing it through in the winter months.

Reconnecting a Broken Network

A discussion develops within the site, which holds numerous empty lots that break free from the city grid. Therefore large, sweeping porches that take influence from the projects of Lina Bo Bardi and Oscar Neimeyer. 

District Development

The large districts currently have a solid perimeter, with access points located throughout. By connecting these entryways and locating their intersections, tree species are planted. Based on the required spacing for the species of tree to develop, radial patterns emerge which can be used to design these districts.

Site Map

The site map shows a reconnected network, with several native species re-introduced with the neighborhood. Each species is given a special purpose based on their plumage, cycle, and aesthetic to create pockets of shelter, focal points, and playgrounds.