Meet the 22@, Barcelona’s innovation district
published on 20.01.21
In the Poblenou neighborhood of Barcelona, between Plaça de Les Glòries and Forum, we find its technological district: 22@. The origins of this district lie in an old municipality called Sant Martí de Provençals, which experienced great industrial growth at the end of the 19th century. Today, it is an area in transformation, where a large number of technology, research, design, and energy companies have been concentrated since twenty years ago.
Despite the great transformations and modern buildings, the industrial past is still very visible in the area. In a matter of meters, we find chimneys and facades of old factories, in contrast to modern buildings such as the mythical Agbar Tower or the Design Museum. In addition, it is also a neighborhood with a lot of family activity, with a nucleus of houses around the Rambla del Poblenou. Some of the most popular activities held in the neighborhood every year are the Festa Major de Poblenou and the Llum BCN Festival, a light show that fills the district with light and color.
22@ is the name given to this area of Barcelona, which covers some 200 hectares of former industrial land. The name is due to the project that drove its transformation 20 years ago and has made it the epicenter of Barcelona’s startups. Today, more than 1,500 companies are concentrated in this area. Moreover, not only are they to be found in the neighborhood’s tall, modern buildings, but they are also to be found in the old factories or in the Modernista premises. An example of this is the old warehouse at Can Munné, which today houses the Bau design school.
Towards a sustainable and inclusive district
In 2000, a plan was approved which set out the guidelines for the transformation of the neighborhood. In addition, from 2017 onwards, the council initiated a process called “Rethinking 22@” in which more than 1,000 people from different entities participated. Thus, in 2018 they signed a pact to move towards a more sustainable and inclusive 22@, to adapt the district to the current context of the city. Some of its objectives are: to guarantee the diversity of economic activities, to mitigate the impact of the climate emergency, and to guarantee affordable housing.