Previous stateIn 1983, Girona Municipal Council decided to dedicate a square to the 1978 Spanish Constitution. They chose a triangular plot located in the historic Mercadel district -the boundary between the 19th-century city extension and the old town- on the left bank of the River Onyar. The plot was still occupied by the warehouses of the old Grober button factory (built in 1884) and was bounded by the Gran Via de Jaume I, Carrer de la Sèquia and Carrer Francesc Eiximenis. The competition did not make a provision for the building of a car park under the site: the land had not yet been purchased and such a project was a long-term consideration.
Aim of the interventionHowever, the Special Plan, which was drawn up subsequently and made substantial alterations to the original project, did make such a provision.
DescriptionThe square occupies an irregular plot and is surrounded by a series of buildings which are heterogeneous in function and shape.
The square is divided into two distinct areas. The pedestrianised area - which had to be made of hard materials as it is placed over an underground car park- is raised slightly above street level and bounded by a wall of exposed concrete. This emphasises the impression of a "contained" space. We also find a "natural" area planted with trees set out in parallel rows reminiscent of the Girona landscape. The trees alternate with unusual sculptures and street furniture which evoke the city and the buildings around the square with humour and irony. The side overlooking the convex façade of the Banco de España is inlaid with bronze elements reproducing giant-size Spanish coins. Other unusual -almost surreal- elements are the shapes of flies set into the tree pits (in reference to Saint Narcissus the city's patron saint), the anthropomorphic shapes of the benches, the waterspouts shaped like carp, the PA system on legs, and the fountain made of letters which spouts water towards the city’s four rivers. A bronze figure, by Francisco López, of a girl born in Girona on the day the Constitution was announced, stands on a low plinth in front of the fountain. Every five or ten years a new statue of the same girl will be added, with the symbolic intention that the square should continue to change as time goes by.
AssessmentBased on the premise of the architects themselves who defined the square as a test scheme within the city, the new space of the Plaça de la Constitució has provided the inhabitants with a new public space in the heart of the city created from a disused site. Furthermore, the original characteristics which defined the intervention have made the square a widely recognised example of remarkable, quality design.
Albert García Espuche, architect
[Last update: 02/05/2018]