The Rec Comtal, which for a millennium, and coming from Montcada, was an essential channel for the supply of water to Barcelona, began to languish at the time of the industrial revolution and has reached the 21st century in residual form. The reasons for this decline are basically two. Barcelona's growing water needs, which require larger-scale systems. And, on the other hand, the expansion of the city and the construction of large road infrastructures that were mutilating it.
Of the fourteen original open-air kilometers of the Rec Comtal, just over one and a half have survived, in the Vallbona neighbourhood, which run between Reixagó street and the urban orchards of La Ponderosa. In the 20th century, the waters that once went to Barcelona were redirected to the Besòs, and some sections were buried or channeled, promoting the uninhibited use of concrete and hard pavements in their surroundings. What had been a source of life and biodiversity became a paradigm of abandonment.
However, the waters of the Rec continue to flow crystalline and fresh today, feeding a specific flora and fauna. This can be seen at least in its already renaturalised section, barely 300 metres, between Reixagó street and Primer de Maig square, following an environmental restoration master plan prepared by Carles Enrich's office.
In this first pilot intervention, the architect's work could not have been more restrained. It has consisted of adding trees and vegetation on the banks of the Rec, and of building two light viewpoints, with corrugated profiles, which hide old concrete tubes and, instead of separating, as a railing would do, they invite you to situate yourself over the course of the waters, to some extent to become part of it. The feeling, despite the proximity of motorways and railway lines, is that of being in a natural space. Or almost.
This project by Enrich, which is in line with the municipal green axis policy, will continue along the kilometer of the canal that goes to the Ponderosa orchards. The budget is assigned and the works should start at the end of the year and finish the next. The idea in this section is the same as in the one already resolved: to generate vegetation, freshness and shade next to the water, thus dignifying enclaves of a border neighborhood, passing through and neglected. At Rec Comtal it will never be what it was. But cleaning up its remains is perhaps the best and most practical tribute possible to its history.