Sant Andreu grew from a series of farmhouses built around the parish church of Sant Andreu del Palomar (which is still standing but was refurbished in the 19th century). It dates back more than a thousand years and is one of the traditional gateways to Barcelona which, for years, was home to factories and textile mills. It is also in the throes of transformation due to the laying of the track for the high-speed train, that will stop at Sagrera station. This major railway project has changed the urban layout of Sant Andreu and will redefine its role as one of the city's central areas.
You can still feel the small-village atmosphere in the Plaça del Mercadal and its surrounding area, and enjoy shopping in the bustling high street, the Carrer Gran de Sant Andreu. The district also has urban parks and state-of-the-art facilities that have been built on sites once occupied by large factories. This is the case of the Parc de La Pegaso and the Parc de La Maquinista and the old Fabra i Coats factory, which has been converted into a space for emerging artists.
An outstanding example of the district's architectural heritage is the Bac de Roda Bridge, the engineer and architect Santiago Calatrava's first foray into the world of bridge design. He designed this work in 1985 in his trademark style: curves, inspired by the lines of the human body, light colours and tensed cables on either side of a bridge adapted to vehicles as well as pedestrians. And another example is the Casa Bloc, a bold rationalist landmark: it was the first example of social housing for workers in Spain and combines 200 private duplex apartments with community gardens. The block was designed in 1932 on a z-shaped floor plan by the architects from the GATCPAC (Group of Catalan Architects and Technicians for the Progress of Contemporary Architecture), Josep Lluís Sert, Josep Torres i Clavé and Joan Baptista Subirana, and it became a benchmark for progressive architecture. Apartment 1/11 at the Casa Bloc has been converted into a museum so that visitors can find out about the structure and original appearance of the project.
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