In short, social cohesion can be considered as the relationship between members of a group of people, in terms of how the individuals relate to each other, and as a group. A city designed for people is a city that fights against social inequality and accepts diversity, acknowledging different ways of life. Intervention on the ground can contribute to improving the social cohesion of the population.

    More than 3.2 million people live in the metropolis of Barcelona. The housing stock in which they live is made up of 1.3 million units, and does not form a uniform urban fabric, but is instead made up of different types of fabric, with different needs and requirements. This territory contains urban forms typical of the Mediterranean compact city (buildings aligned to the street), and more recent types, such as blocks and single-family houses which mainly appeared as a result of the waves of migration that have taken place since the 1940s.

    Apart from increasing in quantitative terms over the last few decades, the socio-demographic characteristics of the population have also changed. Difference and diversity are assets of today's metropolitan society, but when this difference takes the form of urban segregation, the problems that result from it affect the metropolis as a whole. Concentrations of population based on origin, religion, and above all financial circumstances can still be identified in the metropolitan area.

    Social inequality and poverty have been exacerbated in recent years by increasing unemployment and the limitations of the social welfare system, which has led to serious housing emergencies. This has reversed a long process of social cohesion, which began with the restoration of democratic municipal councils.

    Although there are many wide-ranging processes affecting social cohesion, urban planning can highlight some aspects in order to reduce inequalities. The most important of these are improving proximity to basic facilities and quality free spaces, and promoting access to housing.
    The PDU aims to facilitate the right of the population to housing and the city. To that end, it is necessary to ensure that citizens have access to housing and can remain in it, by providing affordable housing for the most disadvantaged groups. However, a concentration of social housing developments should be avoided, as this could lead to processes of segregation.

    In addition to housing, planning also needs to pay particular attention to the features of the public spaces to ensure their quality, and to enhance their role of exchange and coexistence which fosters social integration. The removal of physical and psychological barriers, the consolidation of social spaces that foster civic cooperation, the recovery of parks on the boundary between the city and the natural environment in the outermost suburbs, and inclusive urban planning with a gender perspective must be the guiding principles for actions in the public space.

    Finally, the services and facilities must cover the entire territory, and especially areas with lower income levels, as the population living there is less able to access alternatives which meet their health, cultural, educational, recreational and transport needs.
With the examination of the built city, the values and capacities of the territory, and with the diagnosis of the needs of the metropolitan population based on an analysis of the urban settlements where it lives, the development model of the future metropolitan city will be able to improve many aspects of urban development that may have an impact on social cohesion.
    Today, about 3.2 million inhabitants live on 32,496 hectares of land in the metropolitan area of Barcelona. Its territorial evolution and dynamics have undergone significant changes in recent decades, which must be taken into account in the immediate future.

    The changes in the population structure have entailed a considerable ageing, marked by a steady decline in the birth rate and an increase in life expectancy. This increase in the number of older people will lead to a specific demand for services and facilities in the coming years. Meanwhile, although the urban development of recent decades has provided the majority of the population with the necessary basic facilities, those facilities are not always located close at hand.

    The last 17 years have seen an increase of 12% in the foreign population, with 73% coming from outside the EU. The gradual ageing and decline in numbers of the native active population means that the immigrant population, mainly from outside the EU, will continue to increase.

    The increasing complexity of metropolitan society also suggests that changes in the structure of households leading to new housing requirements, will take place. There has been an increase in the number of one-person households and a reduction in their average size.

    Economic conditions, the housing market and family ties are factors that have contributed to the current territorial distribution of the population. This distribution includes some areas with a concentration of low-income households that require special attention, as they are more likely to suffer from social segregation.

    Half of the metropolitan population that is old enough to leave the parental home cannot afford to pay for a home, whereas estimates suggest that only 1.5% of the existing stock can be considered social housing. The increasing difficulties in gaining access to and retaining housing are barriers to achieving the objective of urban solidarity.

    Meanwhile, maintaining a home improves people's quality of life. The housing stock therefore needs to be refurbished to increase its energy efficiency, accessibility and comfort.

    In short, part of the metropolitan population has difficulty accessing housing or basic services and facilities, and some urban fabrics have problems with habitability, vitality, ageing of the housing stock and urban integration. These situations have a direct influence on processes of socio-spatial segregation.
    The Metropolitan Urban Master Plan is a plan focusing on supply which aims to meet the needs of the metropolitan population using the region's capacities.

    Many different identities are identified in the territory of the metropolitan area of Barcelona, and all of them must share the same metropolitan consciousness. Accepting the value of this complexity enhances its specificities and singularities, and makes a difference.

    The built city has been examined by studying four aspects of urban planning which when combined with each other explain this complexity. They have been identified as urban development situations of urban settlements: their form, function, but also their relative location (fabrics segregated from or in continuity with the urban fabric) and their metropolitan role (the different circumstances involved in living in the metropolis).


    These combined urban situations entail very diverse metropolitan realities, which will require different strategies for improving social cohesion.

    Meanwhile, the heterogeneous nature of the territory and its municipalities offers potential for unequal growth, which will depend on the various fabrics involved, the situation of the land awaiting development and the location of the metropolitan avenues and centres.
    By applying specific proposals on the ground, urban planning can have an impact on the promotion of social cohesion and improve certain aspects of people's lives. In total, seven of these areas have been estimated, which are considered urban planning areas for social inclusion:
    • The functional sphere: the mobility generated can be reduced by promoting mobility between the place of residence and the workplace.
    • The economic sphere: encouraging a balance between income and housing prices can facilitate the ability of households to enjoy decent housing.
    • The territorial sphere: spatial segregation can be alleviated by improving physical continuity as a key value.
    • The non-residential sphere: citizens can be provided with services by facilitating access to local high quality facilities and services.
    • The relational sphere: environmental quality is enhanced and social bonds are fostered by creating free spaces, for relationships and neighbourhood relationships in proximity and with a gender perspective.
    • The housing sphere: the right to housing is enhanced by promoting the right to housing, creating affordable housing and adapting housing models to the various types of household.
    • The health sphere: the health of citizens is improved by promoting healthy, accessible, safe and cohesive living environments.

    The urban planning needs of the population that may have an impact on social inclusion have been analysed based on the principles of equity, gender perspective, proximity and quality, and a number of challenges have been identified which will be addressed in various actions in the region.
The diagnosis of the metropolitan region's social cohesion presents some challenges that planning must address according to its general objectives and its capacity for action.

After the evaluation and final selection of the various alternatives has been completed, the PDU will be able to address the challenges and outline its proposals.

These proposals are defined in the specific terms of a preliminary document, in the objectives, section, which is divided into four broad categories of contents: structural elements, the agroforestry mosaic, urban fabrics and areas of action.

This map is based on map ‘D.V.01 Socio-morphological residential structure', which is part of the graphic material of the Preliminary Document.

Click to see  legend.
This map is based on map ‘I.11.2 Residential fabrics', which is part of the graphic material of the Preliminary Document.
Click to see  legend.
This map is based on map ‘D.III.01 Structural metropolitan centres', which is part of the graphic material of the Preliminary Document.
Click to see legend.