Malniu rest area
Landscape intervention in Meranges, La Cerdanya.
Agroparc Penedès, located in the northern area of Alt Penedès, between the municipalities of Gelida and Sant Llorenç d'Hortons, covers a total of 258 hectares where sustainability, circularity and technology will be the three backbones. A space that integrates agriculture, livestock, agribusiness and renewable energy generation that will become the first positive energy and CO₂ negative agro-industrial district.
In January 2021, the Ametller Group commissioned Batlleiroig to lead the implantation of this project with a multidisciplinary team made up of Arku3, Igremap, Garrigues and IDP. The aim was to manage a highly complex brief devised by Ametller with important partners such as Carburos Metálicos, Suez, Agbar, Wageningen University and the IRTA, and implant it in a territory that is very sensitive to landscape, agricultural and social issues. The landscape and technical balance were key to floating a project that had been in the making for four years, without managing to convince the various territorial agents.
This is a highly ambitious project that aims to apply for Next Generation EU (NGEU) European funding, bringing a new variable to the calendar: the completion of its construction in 2026. The first quarter of 2021 became an ongoing workshop for the entire team to achieve an implantation that the territorial entities would rate positively and that was technically perfect.
The new complex is located in the municipalities of Gelida and Sant Llorenç d’Hortons, at the gateway to the Barcelona Metropolitan Region. Proximity to Barcelona is the key to understanding the project’s strategic value.
The territory in which it is set is a basically agricultural landscape—mostly vineyards—in which the farmsteads and their fields are the protagonists. The minor tributaries of the river Anoia mark the topography, defining a pronounced geography that enhances the territory and creates an agroforestry mosaic of great ecological and landscape value. The aim is for the Agro-Park to rely on the original geography, acknowledging and enhancing it as a complex natural environment, maintaining the farmhouses and their areas of influence as a landscape unit.
The Masterplan defines the layout of the new Agro-Park by engaging the various design scales. This involves designing the operation of the industrial buildings by controlling their correct logistical implementation, integrating each of the different uses into the landscape in relation to the centres of habitation, laying out entrances and visuals, and, finally, creating strategies to protect the various ecological corridors. The determination to ensure that the project respects the territory and the circularity between urban and agricultural environments calls for an unprecedented urban fit.
Due to its singularity and its integration in the territory, in December 2021 the project was declared of territorial interest by the Territory Commission of Catalonia, being the first project for a private initiative to achieve this recognition.
For the urban planning process, we now have to break down this global project into different parts, all interlinked, guaranteeing the unity of this project that is one of its kind in Catalonia and Europe. The various phases of the process will take the form of a modification of the Municipal Urban Development Plan (MPOUM), a partial plan for the urban area and two special plans to define the uses of non-developable land.
The Agroparc will mean a paradigm shift in the food sector, prioritizing energy efficiency, minimizing the water footprint, the use of multiple renewable energy sources and 100% emission-free mobility.Joan Batlle BlayLandscape architect, Architect / R+D Director and Landscape Vice Director / Partner
The part of the complex’s brief with the largest footprint in the territory are its industrial uses. Their basic requirements of functionality, accessibility and efficiency condition the implantation of the project.
Previous planning situated them in Can Joncoses, a sector that, despite having a partial plan allowing construction, located the buildings along the ecological corridor of the torrent of the same name. For this reason, a modification of approved planning was proposed to situate all industrial uses in the old Artiga meadow, where the topography is more favourable.
This decision also reduces the visual impact from Gelida, as the proposed site is lower. This strategy is complemented by the fragmentation of industrial uses into various volumes, making it possible to work with different levels of implantation that respect the topography. In addition, the idea is that building will remain below the brow of the hill where it is located (Pic Vinyes) and that a green roof will continue the existing meadow.
The headquarters of the Ametller Group is also located in this area, guided by the same concern with landscape integration as the industrial buildings. The building is stepped to create terraces that accompany the topography, highlighting the relationship with the outdoors on each level and offering a great vantage point over the meander in the river Anoia. It is a building that aims to be an international reference for sustainability but, above all, to respect the territory where it is located.
The implementation of photovoltaics and technical greenhouses has also been worked on with a correct landscape integration, through views from the territory, but also from the paths that run through the Agroparc. These roads, in the Can Mata area, are ridges, where the surrounding agricultural units fall with the topography. The photovoltaic panels are always located at low points, being completely invisible from the roads and preserving the agricultural landscape. The greenhouses are also located in blind spots in the territory due to their condition as topographically sunken points.
No less important are the layouts and paths that crisscross the Agro-Park, most importantly connecting it with the entire territory: Baix Llobregat and Penedès. The new complex acts as a gateway to the Penedès from the Barcelona Metropolitan Area, connecting it with the Blue Way of the river Anoia, a river channel rehabilitation project developed by Barcelona Provincial Council and the Generalitat Catalan Government.
The gateway to the municipality of Gelida from the Blue Way is situated at the point where the Agro-Park meets the railway line and the main communications. A facility is proposed that could become a museum or an interpretation centre of the Blue Way, the Penedès and the Agro-Park. From this point, the project weaves a network of public paths to recover the territory’s lost connections, linking the various rehabilitated farmhouses and their areas of influence. The existing paths are repaired with different levels of intensity according to use, but always with the emphasis on their agricultural condition and sustainable water management. The resulting network will enhance the landscape and the brief of this agrifood cluster, under the watchful eye of the emblematic mountain of Montserrat.
Penedès Agro-Park shapes a landscape to house a unique, pioneering project in Europe, which, by means of sustainability, innovation and circularity in the agrifood sector, aims to feed the metropolitan region of Barcelona. An ambitious project that, with the support of local, regional and central government, is starting to become a reality, constantly guided by respect for the territory in which it is located.
A complete proposal that addresses the concerns of the climate emergency in which we find ourselves in order to continue growing as a society and, above all, as a territory, and which, for this reason, has been declared of territorial interest.