At the end of the 20th century, it was decided to intervene comprehensively 200 hectares of industrial land in the Poblenou area. With the aim to preserve the productive character of an area that had been the epicenter of the industrial revolution in Catalonia.

The result of this is the 22@, one of the first districts of urban innovation in the world. The 22@ was conceived the following fundamental features:

  • Sustain the productive character of the territory, by favouring knowledge-intensive activities
  • Encourage the generation and installation of knowledge centers (Universities, research centers, etc)
  • Pursue and develop a compact and complex city model, with mixed land use. Which includes housing, citizen service, business development, green areas and different equipment.
  • Implement an infrastructure plan (with service networks, district heating, pneumatic waste collection, advanced mobility solutions, redundant power grid, etc.) that forge and consolidate the district as an advanced tertiary land
  • Preserve the architectural, and industrial heritage of the district
  • Foster the conditions for the development of an open ecosystem of innovation

Since the 20th century, Innovation Districts have proliferated throughout the world, unlocking other urban typologies of innovation based on large areas far from the central cities (Silicon Valley model). 

In The rise of innovation districtsof Bruce Katz y Julie Wagner for the Brookings Institutions, the authors define these environments as 

"geographical areas where leading-edge anchor institutions and companies cluster and connect with start-ups, business incubators and accelerators. They are also physically compact, transit-accessible, and technically-wired and offer mixed-use housing, office and retail"

Innovative Districts encompass physical, economic and relationship elements. If one of them is missing, the ecosystem dynamics do not occur: the competitive advantage of being where things happen.


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