One of the first Innovation Districts in the world, 22@Barcelona was initiated in 2000 in the Poblenou neighbourhood, the former manufacturing area of the city also known as the “Catalan Manchester” in the 19th century. The project aimed at redeveloping 198.26 hectares, and leading to the estimated transformation of 1,159,626 m2 of existing industrial land and the potential creation of around 3,200,000 m2 of new construction. Involving the legal recognition of 4,614 already-existing homes and the construction of around 4,000 new subsidised units; 114,000 m2 of green area land; and a total investment in infrastructure of around €180 million – making it the largest project of its kind in Europe at the time.

The goal set was to preserve the productive character of the area thorough knowledge based and creative economy activities. From 2000 to 2018 there have been created 130,000 new jobs in 22@ and it is expected to create new 5,000 jobs per year at the actual pace of transformation. 22@ has become the epicentre of the start-up and co-working growth in the city. The district, developed with public leadership and close collaboration with companies and research institutions it has been characterised the last years by bottom-up urban design strategies that have included citizens participation as in the case of the first super-block creation (traffic pacification and gain of public space), the strategic redesign of the project in 2018 through citizens’ participation process repensem 22@ (rethinking22@) or the conversion of Poblenou in a makers district based on peer production and circular economic principles. According to Dublin’s Trinity College, 22@ has been the inspiration for some 80 innovation districts across the world.