External Reference created an architecture and urban planning project on the Barcelona seafront, creating a new balcony overlooking the Mediterranean that serves as a viewing platform over the city and the sea. Escaleras y Mirador Vela is led by architect Carmelo Zappulla. It connects the Passeig del Mare Nostrum and the Placa de la Rosa dels Vents. This walkable architectural façade is comprised of a staircase and elevated walkway that rises 9.3 meters over the beach.

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A promenade by an ocean

External Reference’s urban planning intervention aims to improve the public access around the W Hotel. The platform brings together the tides of the sea with the people who visit the area for leisure, creating a space where people can comfortably view the city and the sea over the rising tides.

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A wall with geometric triangular cutouts and plants imbedded on the wall

The platform’s design was inspired by the form of salt crystals that grow in small Mediterranean water reservoirs. Escaleras y Mirador Vela was developed as a sculptured form between the existing seawall and the new facade that opens to a promenade, inviting the public to experience the space in a new way.

A wall with stairs leading up to a pathway on top of it

The promenade is made of prefabricated concrete. The facade aiming the seafront is clad with triangular concrete bio-receptive panels that incorporate low-maintenance vegetation and a lighting system. Meanwhile, the panels were optimized by using parametric strategies, designed in a way that encourages surface growth of native plants, including sweet allysum, and two varieties of a purple flower called ice plant. A fiber optic lighting system makes the surface appear to vibrate at sunset.

A stairway overlooking an ocean view

“We have designed a unique place for the city, and a space where you can not only appreciate looking towards the horizon of the sea, but where you can also discover new viewpoints of Barcelona, the great protagonist of the project,” said Carmelo Zappulla. “We believe that the path will act as a catalyst that transforms the dynamics between the square and the promenade which, although adjacent spaces, until now had separate activities. They are now dialogic parts of a chain of discoveries and experiences that pass through Escaleras y Mirador Vela.”

A harbor beside on ocean with a large glass structure beside it

The promenade has 48 steps that bridge an 8.5-meters height difference over the length of the promenade that runs 48.45 meters. It creates a beautiful walkway with plenty of room for the public to enjoy a day or night out at the seafront.

+ External Reference

Images via Adrià Goula