“It is not logical that in a Mediterranean city the majority of roofs are closed and do not have any kind of use”. This was remarked a few months ago by Barcelona’s city Mayor, Xavier Trias. I have to say that I totally agree with it.
If you have a look to an aerial photography of Barcelona, apart from acknowledging the imposing Sagrada Família and the perfect grid of the Eixample neighbourhood, you will probably see the lifeless, colourless roofs of the buildings. Roofs full of grey air conditioning systems and abandoned ropes for spreading clothes.
This is a pity. A vibrant and warm city like Barcelona could do it much better. Who does not like to spend summer nights in a green roof with a gentle breeze and the lights of the city at your feet? Or winter middays under the sun that warms us up a bit? These communities’ rooftops could provide a neutral space within which people and neighbours come together and social interactions could occur. A sense of connectedness could arise and foster trust and cooperation among these individuals. Besides, these social dynamics help promote community wellness and social cohesion, provide individual benefits, improved public health, and social resilience. All of these are critical components of a sustainable and well-functioning society. I believe it is very important nowadays when more of half of world’s population are living in urban areas. Therefore, Barcelona is starting to launch an aid plan for the roofs of the city to have environmental, energy-efficiency and community gathering uses. This measure will be based on economic aids and incentives to communities of neighbours who decide to transform their roof. The Deputy Mayor for Urban Habitat, Antoni Vives, said that “if we recover all the roofs we could gain a surface area of 1,700 hectares, equivalent to two districts of the Eixample.” Actually, the present building standard commands that all the new municipal buildings including offices or social protected apartment blocks, must have community’ roofs. It is being done, for example, in the new Barcelona municipal library in the neighbourhood of Vallbona, which will have a green rooftop. A green roof is now widely recognised, for example, as a means of improving air quality and for providing greater thermal performance and roof insulation for the buildings they are laid on. So, it is a very good idea to promote this kind of roof and also made it accessible to neighbours to promote the benefits of these community’s social strengths. This Barcelona plan is very interesting and it should be done in more urban areas. A more sustainable and resilient city is always a good idea. Come on, it’s hip to be green!