“Superblocks” model could prevent almost 700 premature deaths every year in Barcelona

“Superblocks” model could prevent almost 700 premature deaths every year in Barcelona

News from ISGlobal

The city of Barcelona could prevent 667 premature deaths every year by implementing the proposed “Superblocks” project in its entirety. This result would be achieved mainly as a result of decreased air pollution (NO2), but reductions in traffic noise and mitigation of heat island effects would also be contributing factors. These were some of the conclusions of a recent study published in Environment International, which was carried out by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal).

The objective of the superblock model was to return public space to citizens and, at the same time, to address the problems of high concentrations of air pollution and the lack of green spaces in the city of Barcelona. The concept was conceived by BCNecologia, an agency led by Salvador Rueda, and the initial proposal was to create 503 superblocks throughout the city. To date, redevelopment projects under the umbrella of the “Superblock” project have been undertaken in six Barcelona districts: Poblenou, Sant Antoni, Horta, Gràcia, Les Corts and Sants.

The findings indicate that the original "Superblocks" project could prevent 667 premature deaths every year, increase life expectancy by almost 200 days on average per inhabitant, and generate an annual economic saving of 1.7 billion euros. The most notable health benefits would come from reductions in air pollution (preventing 291 premature deaths per year), followed by the mitigation of traffic noise (163 premature deaths) and heat island effects (117 premature deaths).


Natalie Mueller, David Rojas-Rueda, Haneen Khreis et al. Changing the urban design of cities for health: the Superblock model. Environment International. September 2019.

More information:
ISGlobal website