In the past two decades, Barcelona has emerged as one of the world’s leading centers of innovation in urban development and economic regeneration.

After the reinstatement of democracy in 1978, the city was confronted with huge public infrastructure needs, particularly in transportation, communications, and in deteriorated industrial and inner-city areas. At the time, however, the city lacked the financial means to tackle its challenges.

By hosting the 1992 Olympic Games and subsequently the 2004 Forum of Cultures, the city was able to invest in infrastructure, reverse serious inner-city problems, and enhance its global brand. The success was due largely to strong public leadership coupled with innovative private collaboration.

To this day, the Barcelona City Council remains committed to using new technologies for intelligent city management and for deploying infrastructure, such as Wi-Fi on public roads, iBicing (bikeshare access via iPhone), and mGovernment (mobile technologies for the provision of public services). All this is helping the city become an international benchmark for creative urban solutions, exemplified by the innovation district of 22@.

Urban innovation 22@

In 2000, the Barcelona City Council approved a new urban planning ordinance aimed at transforming the old industrial area of Poblenou into a magnet for innovation.

The 22@Barcelona zone encourages the replacement of previous industrial activity with offices or other business services and equipment related to new technology and knowledge. 22@Barcelona is the most important urban transformation project the city has embarked on in recent history and one of the most ambitious in Europe.

Ultimately, the goal of the 22@ project is a compact city where the most innovative companies co-exist with research, training and technology transfer centers, along with housing (4,000 new subsidized residences), facilities (145,000 m2 of land), and green areas (114,000 m2).

22@ Overview

22@ Urban Planning

22@ 10 years