Barcelona 22@ high tech district
Barcelona is only an hours drive from Girona and a visit to the exciting urban renewal project that is 22@ is easy to get to from the motorway. The first thing you notice is the cucumber building next to the Glories roundabout and along the Diagonal road there are now dozens of really interesting looking modern office buildings and housing projects which are being built to house some of the best of Spains high tech industry.
The Barcelona city council decided in 2001 to revitalise an old industrial and poor housing area called Poblenou using new urban planning codes to encourage replacing old factories and housing with modern facilities and some public buildings including university research centres and an international conference centre. Established businesses as well as start-ups in growth sectors like media, medical technology, energy research and IT were to form the core of this new environment complemented by parks and with the beach only a short walk away this is a great location. The new station for the high speed train is also being built in this area linking Madrid and Paris in a journey which will only take a few hours from Barcelona when it is finished.
As with many publicly funded initiatives over the last few years some building speculation by landowners in the area is evident from the empty holes with fences surrounding them but my surprise was that quite a lot has been built already and even more are about to be completed. With the economy here suffering at least as much as elsewhere, and some would argue more, it will be interesting to see if these new offices are occupied, especially by the start-ups and small businesses that were envisaged at the outset.
Meanwhile, it is a great place to walk around to see how an old and run down part of town gets a second chance, and hopefully the mix of resident, visitor and worker will blend into a really interesting and dynamic part of Barcelona.
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