This post by Tomas Diez was originally published on

This is a press release by Space10, our partners in organising the Made Again Challenge in Poblenou — Barcelona during the summer in 2016. We brought IKEA designers, local and international makers, to prototype in 5 days how we could redesign material flows at the neighbourhood scale. This project has been the spark of a larger collaboration going on between the partners.

An astonishing transformation is taking place in Barcelona’s former industrial district of Poblenou. The district was once rundown, just like so many other former industrial neighbourhoods in Western cities once manufacturing moved overseas. Today the neighbourhood has become a poster child for urban renewal through a bottom-up approach, creating an epicentre of technology and creativity — leading the Catalan paper Publico and other media to describe it as a mini Silicon Valley for sustainable industry.

The neighbourhood is spearheading a new urban model of resiliency and local innovation, where citizens are perceived not just as consumers but as producers, empowered through access to digital fabrication tools, and knowledge. Poblenou is today an experimentation playground to build the vision of how we might step away from importing most things into the city and export our waste, and instead introduce a circular model, where all resources flow in a closed-loop system within the city itself.

Former NODO maker space, now being turned into a co-working space. Photo: Space10

In fact, Poblenou is already building the infrastructure to be locally productive and globally connected, in order to produce at least half of what it consumes by 2054, using materials that are sourced locally or reclaimed from waste creating a partly circular model, where waste is remade into new products.

The largest Fab City prototype to date

Last summer, the ambitious vision behind the so-called Fab City movement was tested in reality during the Made Again Challenge, a project initiated by SPACE10 — IKEA’s “external future-living lab” — and the Fab City Research Laboratory. Together they created the first and largest Fab City prototype to date in Poblenou — a one-square-kilometre testbed to explore how to rethink and re-engineer our production system in cities.

Poblenou Maker district — Building the Fab City vision in Barcelona at the local scale. Image: Fab City Research Lab at IAAC

Over the course of five days, local workshops, research centers, design agencies and local producers in the neighbourhood was connected into an ecosystem. Biologists, tech professionals, local makers, craftsmen, IKEA designers, and other trailblazers gathered in Barcelona for the project and collected wasted products from the streets of Poblenou in order to breath new life into materials that were heading to landfill.

In Barcelona, each neighbourhood has the “dia de los trastos”, a week day in which large scale trash is taken out to the streets in order to be collected by a public service. Trash mafias and individuals fight for collection of these resources as materials and new furniture. Photo: Space10

The whole experiment is captured in this seven-minute-long documentary.

The Made Again Challenge led to both the mayor of Barcelona and Barcelona City Council to announce support for turning Poblenou into a “Maker District”, part of the ambitious city Digital Plan.

Visit of Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau, Vice-Mayor Gerardo Pisarello, Counsellor Gala Pin and CTO Francesca Bria to Fab Lab Barcelona at IAAC, hosted by Director Tomas Diez and President of the Board Oriol Soler. Photo: Fab Lab Barcelona at IAAC

According to Gerardo Pisarello, Barcelona’s first deputy mayor:

We want an economy that’s based on re-industrialization 4.0, an economy rooted in the territory, giving opportunities to new manufacturing linked to new technologies, and that has the participation of the people and neighbourhoods, such as Poblenou.

The neighborhood has become a significant source of inspiration to other cities, regions and countries that have already pledged to the idea of the Fab City and to become self-sufficient by 2054 — including Amsterdam, Boston, Bhutan, Detroit, Georgia, Paris, Shenzhen, and Toulouse. Many other cities are looking at the Fab City movement for inspiration — and in September, Copenhagen will host this year’s official Fab City Global Summit (followed in 2018 by Paris).

Fab City Documentary at FAB10 Barcelona, 2014.


If you find the story interesting, you are more than welcome to contact Tomas Diez, who is director of Fab Lab Barcelona and IAAC, and heading the Fab City Research Lab and was part of organising the Made Again Challenge:

[email protected]

Fab City whitepaper:

Poblenou is also hosting one of the biggest urban experiments in the form of Super Blocks:

About the author:  Tomas Diez, making stuff at Fab Lab Barcelona – IAAC. Smart Citizen and Studio P52 co-founder. Urbanist and technologist.

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