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Scenic Path along Igualada's old gypsum mines

A landscape recovery sensitive and attentive to the preexistences and values of the site, based on the modernization of conventional solutions and with an optimal ratio of resources.

Camí de les Guixeres a Igualada
Camí de les Guixeres a Igualada

Guixeres Path in Igualada

The proposal solves this stretch of the Igualada Green Belt by applying technical solutions that improve its accessibility, reduce its maintenance and develop a drainage system capable of taking advantage of rainwater.

Authors

Batlleiroig Arquitectura. Enric Batlle Durany, Joan Roig i Duran, Iván Sánchez Fabra – Architect

Team

Mario Súñer Díaz, Simone Cicu – Architect / Livia Valentini – Architect and landscape architect / Diana Calicó Soler – Building engineer / Yago Cavaller Galí – Agricultural engineer and environmentalist / Dolors Feu – Agricultural engineer and landscape architect

Collaborators

STATIC Ingeniería – Structural engineering

Promoter

Ajuntament d’Igualada

Construction company

Moix Serveis i Obres

Project status

Built

Start date

2016

Finish date

2018

Total area

5.600 m2

Awards

WAF 2018 – Guixeres, LILA 2019 – Guixeres, Iconic Awards 2019 – Guixeres, The International Architecture Awards 2020 – Guixeres, A’ Design Award and Competition – Guixeres
The proposal is part of the global project of the Green Ring of Igualada. / © Jordi Surroca

A DEGRADED ENVIRONMENT

The proposal is part of the global project of the Igualada Green Belt, which seeks to generate a set of itineraries for pedestrians and bicycles in the form of a green belt on the perimeter of the city. This new green infrastructure for sustainable mobility aims to establish a system of perimeter-free spaces that work in a network, suitable for carrying out leisure activities that respect the environment, adapting and recovering to a large extent, currently degraded or underused spaces.

In this context, the road to the gypsum mines involves the adaptation of a 1.65 km section, of which the first 800 meters have been executed.

This new green infrastructure for sustainable mobility wants to establish a system of free spaces perimeter of the city that work in a network. / © Jordi Surroca

NEW DYNAMICS IN PLACE

The natural space through which the road runs is located on the northern perimeter of the city of Igualada and was in a highly degraded state. It was the subject of intense extractive activity of the gypsum existing in the subsoil (Guixeres del Claret and del Pelfort). Later, once this activity ceased, the area was used as a municipal waste transfer station. At the end of the 70s, this use also ceased and the area was completely abandoned without any type of corrective or recovery action being carried out.

The project is based on two main objectives: one of connectivity, acquiring the continuity of this global city-scale project (Green Belt), and a second of landscape recovery and biodiversity, establishing the necessary elements to generate a new dynamic in the place that progressively improve your environmental conditions through the use of water.

OPTIMIZATION OF GEOMETRY

The proposal takes advantage of the existing platform to configure this new section of the green ring. Its layout is mainly planned on the outside with the intention of enhancing the views over the city of Igualada.

The geometry with which it is formalized allows the new path to adapt optimally to the irregularities of this platform and at the same time, it can approach the existing vegetation and shadows or enhance certain visuals. Likewise, the path is complemented by a succession of small areas of stay strategically placed in the most privileged places. This section of the route culminates in a final viewpoint that cantilevers over the mountain, offering a view over the Anoia region and the Montserrat mountain.

© Quim Bosch
The modernization of the road improves the benefits of the proposal in opposition to conventional solutions and helps the regeneration and renaturation of the environment. Mario Súñer DíazArchitect / Landscape department Vice Director / Senior Associate

THE WATER, THE LEADING

The innovation of the proposal lies in the modernization of conventional solutions for the construction of roads, in order to acquire greater benefits at the level of accessibility, visibility, durability, and renaturation of the environment, with an optimal cost ratio, and maximum efficiency of the ecological footprint.

The proposed drainage system by means of ditches and retention zones allows the re-naturalization of the environment with greater vigor thanks to the use of runoff water. The inclusive strip, in the form of a 1.2m concrete strip, enables access to the route for certain groups of people. At the same time, the singing of this paved band allows the blind to be followed until the end of the tour.

Having solved the issues of water and inclusivity, the hard part of the road can be granular. The resulting proportion between the two bands allows the road to continue having a soft character, ideal in the context where it is located. Likewise, it is a very efficient use of materials.

Water is a precious resource and must be managed wisely. Under this principle, the proposal configures a new drainage system that, apart from controlling surface water, tries to make the most of it in order to infiltrate it into the same land, generating new wetlands.

The path is complemented by a series of small living areas that have privileged views. / © Jordi Surroca

TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE RESOURCES OF THE ENVIRONMENT

A vegetative ditch accompanies the entire route, collecting the waters from the mountain slope and those from the path itself. Along this ditch, a succession of wet spots is generated where the vegetation can develop with greater vigor. This is achieved through the construction of successive stone walls that have the mission of retaining and slowing down runoff, reducing erosion, and allowing water infiltration from the ground. Water becomes one more material in the construction of the road over time, being the catalyst for the renaturation of the place.

The construction of these walls is done by taking advantage of the rocks from the small landslides of the mountain. Likewise, illegal dumping of rubble found within the area at the beginning of the works provides a sufficient amount of granite paving stones that allow the crowning of these walls to be configured. The low points of the proposal, in addition to being configured as retention and infiltration areas, require some final axes that allow the excess water to be evacuated in exceptional episodes of rain. These elements are configured using the same precast concrete bench piece, complemented with a second piece that allows the channel to be closed.

TECHNIFICATION OF CONSTRUCTION SOLUTIONS

The granular strip of the pavement is a mixture of gravel and sandstone stabilized with calcium. This mixture has a soft finish, but with good mechanical performance due to the improvement in the granulometry that it contributes to the gravel. Stabilization with calcium provides greater resistance to erosions caused by bicycle traffic and to sections with slopes greater than 6%. At the same time, it is a very low-cost type of stabilization, easy to replace in case of repairs, and does not alter the color of the sandstone.

The concrete strip, complemented by the sets of benches, becomes a linear viewpoint along the route. Its width, 1.2m, is the minimum to allow proper accessibility and inclusiveness. The composition of the concrete incorporates luminescent aggregate. In the final stage of its curing, it is deactivated by acid in order to recover this aggregate on the surface. This material accumulates solar energy during the day and returns it to the environment at night in the form of luminescence. It is not light, but it does generate a subtle effect of luminosity that can guide the way during the early hours of the night.

Awards

The project of the Scenic Path along Igualada’s old gypsum mines wins the International Architecture Awards 2020.

Read more
The project of the Scenic Path along Igualada’s old gypsum mines wins the International Architecture Awards 2020.
Awards

El projecte de recuperació de les Antigues Guixeres d’Igualada guanya el premi A’Design Award 2020-2021.

Read more
El projecte de recuperació de les Antigues Guixeres d’Igualada guanya el premi A’Design Award 2020-2021.