Del Centre del Poblenou Park

  • Barcelona, Spain
Return to projects archives

  • Slide 0

In praise of shade


Shade, born of sunlight, also is its friend. Shade is measured against the brightness of the rays striking strollers, by the contrast it creates. Shade becomes a heaven, perfect for walks, tranquillity, reading, entering into friendly dialogues, for children’s non-violent play on the couch-hammock, for families wandering through the labyrinth of boules- or chess-player’s.


The story of Poble Nou Park is written in the language of shades. From subdued shades, punctuated with patterned sparks of sunlight, to black shadows created by walls that assert the geometry of their boundaries, from jagged shadows moving around openings in the foliage to square pattern shadows underneath the plaited lianas, from glistening water-shadows to the profound matte shadows of a far-away place, of undergrowth.


Poble Nou Park is composed as an architectural structure in stone, with archways, ceilings, hypostyle halls, domes, walls, terraces, but the material is vibrant, green or coloured, natural and controlled. This kind of architecture requires calm, silence.


With this in mind, each of the four islands making up the garden is surrounded by walls covered with plants. Outside, tall, dense bougainvilleas conceal the enclosure and incorporate the park into the Diagonal landscape. Inside, walls covered with ivy, Virginia creeper, ampelopsis create a sense of protection. The walls give shelter to willow trees, weeping willows planted regularly in a mathematical motif (twelve, six or three meters). They cover over two-thirds of the garden’s entire surface. Often, their branches will have been woven to create green arches and domes. Their basis will be painted white to protect them but also to mark them out, to create a horizontal line across the garden. Some are evergreen, but others are deciduous so that the winter sunlight can be caught through the shadows of their branches.


These trees are the material, the units that form the garden’s architecture. Brought together, they create peristyles around each entity, high or low ceilings punctuated by the inexorable lines formed by the trunk-posts. They surround and shape a large square formed by a monumental cascade of plants, they come together as a dome with a central oculus, sheltering a flower-bush island accentuated by four bridges, they drape their branches down to the ground to create a penetrable cascade of foliage worthy of Soto, they line up a series of dense evergreen domes sheltering shade-loving plants, giant ferns, carpets of ivy, they conceal surprises: coloured trees planted at clever angles to form “bouquets”: from walls covered with flowers to aquatic rooms, lounges with tables and chairs, to the Minotaur labyrinth. And they contain “nests”, sky wells, woven huts…


A range of poetic and symbolic themes tailored to the aspirations and ways of life of visitors of all ages: enough space to dance the sardana, to play boules, to let children play. There are areas for meditation, for long walks… Thus, our times will have planted a seed, a contribution to the eternal art of gardens.


Jean Nouvel