Green corridor in Passeig de Sant Joan, Barcelona (ENABLE project)

Enhancing sustainable urbanization, Developing climate change adaptation, Improving risk management and resilience
Nbs actions:
Urban regeneration through nature-based solutions, Nature-based solutions for improving well-being in urban areas, Increasing carbon sequestration through nature-based solutions
Topics (Keywords):
Biodiversity, Cultural ecosystem services, Ecosystem dis-services, Ecosystem services, Green infrastructure, Human well-being, Nature-based solutions, Stakeholders
Start/End date
14 May 2009 to 14 May 2015
Design Team

Lola Domènech architect, BCN City Council, BIMSA


The project was finalist of the FAD ( awards in 2012

Area Characterisation

The ‘Passeig Sant Joan’ is a promenade which connects the district of Gràcia with the Ciutadella Park. Part of it was redeveloped into one of the first Green Corridors in Barcelona, aiming at increasing ecological and social connectivity within the city. The total length of the renovated part is 1.2 km and it was completed in 2015. This section corresponds to the Eixample district and follows a boulevard design that prioritizes vehicular use and commercial activities. This design distributes the use of the space between: wide sidewalks, two car lanes, and a segregated bidirectional lane for bicycles. Until then, this part of the promenade had been particulalry neglected in terms of public space infrastructure, despite it being a key location, close to touristic attractions, very well connected and not far from the old city center. Eixample is one the districts with the lowest availability of green space per inhabitant. 


To improve public space functionality and use, to increase access to green spaces for district residents (Eixample), to contribute to higher biodiversity in the city, and to promote more and different retail activity at the ground floor of buildings, so to rejuvenate/boost the local economy.


Urban regeneration was enabled through the introduction of green infrastructure that: 1) is more welcoming, provides high quality cultural and regulating ecosystem services —thus increases direct use values, attracts more people and more local businesses, 2) through its design favors ground floor service-based retailers (bars and restaurants), which are attractive both to locals and tourists.  New green space and amenities  promote children’s play, relaxation, improved micro-cimate (shading) and less car circulation (pacification, better air quality), hence improving the quality of life in the area. Carbon sequestration is increased via an enlarged area for street trees and other vegetation comparing to traditional sideways in the city. The semi-permeable pavement and irrigation system installed in most part of Passeig Sant Joan allows for water collection and mitigates run-off while also promoting sustainable water use.

Potential impacts/benefitis

NBS benefits
  • Greater ecological connectivity across urban regenerated sites
  • Improve connectivity and functionality of green and blue infrastructures
  • Increase achievements of biodiversity targets
  • Increase quality and quantity of green and blue infrastructures
  • Increase amount of green open spaces for residents
  • Provision of health benefits
Transferability of the Results

This model of green enhanced and enlarged sidewalk with amenities that invite multiple uses etc. can be applied in any urban context given: 1) automobile circulation can be diminished 2) space exists for amplifying sidewalks 3) weather conditions allow for the integrated use of economic activities (bar terraces) 4) city councils can provide the budgetary requirements 5) mobility, urbanization and ecology departments can collaborate at local government level.

ENABLE is a European-wide BiodivERsA project with case studies in different European cities.

Lessons learned

Re-prioritising more integrated NBS thinking within local institutions is as necessary as cultivating higher levels of socio-environmental awareness. Ecosystem services provided by NBS contributing to health, leisure, aesthetics or economic aspects, can be in conflict with ecological/sustainability priorities. Early civil participation is key for civil engagement in NBS.

Publications & Reports

Barcelona City Council. (2013). Barcelona Green Infrastructure and Biodiversity Plan 2020 (Original title: Plan del verd i de la biodiversidad de Barcelona 2020). Retrieved from:

Barcelona City Council (2010). The urban green corridors Examples and criteria of design (Original title: Els corredors verds urbans Exemples i criteris de disseny) (Guies d’educació ambiental No. 38). Barcelona, España: Ajuntament de Barcelona.

BCNecologia - Agència d’Ecologia Urbana de Barcelona (2006). Pla estratègic d’espais lliures de Barcelona. Els corredors verds urbans. Barcelona.

Giraldo Malca, X. (2017). The importance of public participation in the planning of urban green infrastructure for the distribution of ecosystem services: the case of Passeig de Sant Joan in Barcelona. Master thesis. ICTA, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona


Public funds - Barcelona City Council via the public company BIMSA


Barcelona City Council – Ecology, Urbanism and Mobility department; District of Eixample authorities (City Council), UAB -ICTA (Institute for Environmental Science and Technology)


BiodivERsA Science-policy/society interfacing: Frederic Lemaître,

ENABLE Project Coordinator: Ass. Prof. Erik Andersson, Stockholm Resilience Centre,

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