This post by Tomas Diez was originally published on blog.fab.city
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Fab City whitepaper: http://fab.city/whitepaper.pdf
Poblenou is also hosting one of the biggest urban experiments in the form of Super Blocks: https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2016/may/17/superblocks-rescue-barcelona-spain-plan-give-streets-back-residents
About the author: Tomas Diez, making stuff at Fab Lab Barcelona – IAAC. Smart Citizen and Studio P52 co-founder. Urbanist and technologist.