The transformation of the urban design in Pontevedra kickstarted in 1999 and has allowed, within a decade or so, to consolidate a role model of a city, which has helped Pontevedra lead by example either in Spain or worldwide. It looked almost impossible to think about the success of a project, which not only has changed the face of the old and new city center, but also has managed to make a difference in the daily lives of its dwellers. The revamp of public spaces, the new pedestrian roads and streets, and the removal of building barriers and the complete revamping of the city are actions, which have been taken and helped the city whether combined or on their own to achieve a great balance and radical change, benefiting the daily life of the Pontevedra dwellers.
The ideas of Italian thinker and pedagogist Francesco Tonucci inspired the city to develop an urban project that places people first, in general, and children, in particular, as the ones who have benefited from the works in the city infrastructures, design and urban landscape. Any person who has strolled around Pontevedra city will find vast public spaces, cleaner streets and car free areas. Cars are no longer the owners of this city and it has become a child, disabled, and elderly friendly space.
Eventually, a great deal of awards have rained down over the city of Pontevedra. Amongst them we should mention the Premio Nacional da Cultura Galega (National Galician Culture Award), conferred by the Xunta de Galicia to the city in 2008. However, the awards have kept pouring down from overseas, too. In February 2015 the city mayor, Miguel Anxo Fernández-Lores scooped an award in Dubai given by the Emirates and together with the UN-Habitat section entitled “centered around people”. Needless to say, that Pontevedra has turned out to be an exportable project and this type of city design can be carried out by cities, which wish to recoup the public spaces and make their city more pedestrian friendly. What has been achieved in this little corner of the South of Europe, can also be achieved in any city worldwide. Last year, Pontevedra managed to sweep 2 more awards at once in New York and Hong Kong.