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Landscape Restoration of the Garraf Controlled Waste Landfill in Barcelona

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Location: Barcelona / Spain / Type: Infrastructure / Landfill / Parks / Built: 2010 /
Show on Google Maps / Published on January 12, 2011

LILA 2023 Winner in the Revisited Projects category

Garraf is a long-term infrastructure project that transformed a vast amount of waste into agricultural land in its final step. The jury appreciated the role of design in this complex infrastructural landscape rehabilitation project since the entire programme for the closure of the Garraf Landfill was based on an initial landscape idea. The result is an interesting morphology that tells the story of its past with a beautiful surface fit for future use.

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The landscape restoration of this landfill combines in a single operation the two basic objectives that this type of intervention requires: solving a complex technical problem and defining a new landscape. Even so, the proposal incorporates a third objective by proposing this site as a new free access space in the Garraf Natural Park.

A complex and pluridisciplinary action

The project tries to optimize the best technical solutions for the closure and sealing of this deposit, solving the complex technical problems that this type of action requires and adapting the solutions taken to the important slopes of this place.

The intervention tries to enhance the character of free space that this place can recover through its restoration. The proximity of various metropolitan cities and its ease of access and parking, make it the gateway to the Garraf natural park through the new trail created.

The proposed restoration tries to achieve the integration of the deposit within the Garraf natural park, using the resource of nearby agroforestry mosaics and promoting the development of the newly established ecosystems. The new terraces created respond both to the technical needs of the closure and sealing, as well as to the desire to establish a new path and to create a new landscape that is integrated into its surroundings.

The multidisciplinary technical team that has carried out this restoration has combined in a single action knowledge that comes from different disciplines – environmental engineering, geology, landscape architecture, and agronomy – to create this new place.

The place

The Vall d’en Joan deposit is located in the Garraf Natural Park within the municipalities of Begues and Gavá in the Baix Llobregat region.

The beginning of the exploitation of the deposit dates from the year 1974 with the dumping since then of most of the urban waste of Barcelona and the municipalities of its metropolitan area. At present, it occupies an area of ​​60 hectares of which 20 hectares have already been restored from the closure and restoration project presented here.

The location of the deposit before the restoration corresponded to a large esplanade with strong slopes where a layer of 20 centimeters of earth had been placed that covered the waste but did not imply its permanent sealing. This immense esplanade traced the entire valley that has been used as a deposit, and that in its upper parts is still in operation. The image of the valley occupied by the deposit contrasted with the orographic and vegetal richness of the landscapes of the natural park that surrounded it.

The closure and restoration project has been developed from a landscape idea: to create a landscape of agricultural terraces that unifies the whole complex.

The new landscape

The vegetation implantation process is carried out from highly resistant native species, with few water needs and adapted to the environment. The plantation is organized into plant structures linked to the topographic shape of the terraces –fields, slopes, drains, and roads– using autochthonous legume crops, various tree and shrub species, and species typical of the Mediterranean maquis.

The various drainage systems established in the successive agricultural terraces allow the rainwater to be directed to the reserve tanks that will allow us to irrigate in the summer seasons. The established geometric order makes it possible to reconcile the agricultural image sought with the implementation of technical systems, such as that linked to the extraction of the biogas generated in the discharge layers.

If in the language used in the closure project dikes and platforms were required, in the language of the landscape restoration project it is spoken of agricultural terraces with wooded terraces and cultivated fields. The first step towards its total integration into the surrounding landscape.

The tour through the site

The formalization of the various terraces has made it possible to establish a path that will run through the entire restored space, crossing the different fields and going up through the various terraces. This path allows you to visit the place connecting in its upper part with a landscape itinerary of the Garraf Natural Park. At the same time, this road allows the passage of the necessary maintenance vehicles.

But the will of this restoration does not consist exclusively in its reintegration into the landscape, but rather it has wanted to use this operation as a sign of the new attitudes that society has to undertake in relation to environmental issues. To this end, the creation of public access to the restored area has been promoted, where an informative center for the work carried out and in progress has been located.

Project Data 

AUTHORS: Batlleiroig Arquitectura. Enric Batlle Durany, Joan Roig i Duran – Architect/ Teresa Galí-Izard – Agricultural engineer
TEAM: Mario Súñer Díaz, Xavier Ramoneda, Jordi Nebot, Clara Terradellas Rosell – Architect / Elena Mostazo, Dolors Feu – Agricultural engineer and landscape architect / Yago Cavaller Galí – Agricultural engineer and environmentalist
COLLABORATORS: Proser – Engineering, Geocisa – Geotechnics and foundations, RDS – Engineering
PROMOTER: AMB – Àrea Metropolitana de Barcelona, Diputació de Barcelona, Entitat Metropolitana de Serveis Hidràulics i Tractament de Residus
LOCATION: El Garraf, Barcelona
CONSTRUCTION COMPANY: Urbaser, FCC – Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas, Cepsa, Comsa, Emte
TOTAL AREA: 72.2321 sqm
AWARDS: WAF 2008 – Abocador Garraf, The International Architecture Awards 2014 – Abocador Garraf
Year completed: 2008 (Phase 1) 2023 (Phase 2)
PHOTO CREDITS: Jordi Surroca

3 thoughts on "Landscape Restoration of the Garraf Controlled Waste Landfill in Barcelona by Batlleiroig"

  1. Jenny Hill says:

    I was lucky enough to be shown around by some of the design team a couple of years ago as a student at BIAD. Really this is a remarkable and very inspiring project. The hydrological systems are designed to seperate the runoff from the groundwater and the seeded species are all selected with soil creation in mind. When the tree and shrub layers come up, this will be a great hiking destination in years to come.

  2. Gareth says:

    It goes to show that with a bit of thought great things can come from rubbish

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