Barcelona, Spain as a Model for the Creation of Innovation Districts and Sustainable Social Housing Without Spatial Segregation
Revista De Derecho Urbanístico y Medio Ambiente, 251 [Journal of Law and the Environment], Year XLIX, No. 297 BIS, April-May 2015
37 Pages Posted: 2 Mar 2016
Date Written: 2015
Suburban growth in the post-World War II era led to the deterioration of central cities as the migration of more affluent households left a greater concentration of the poor and minorities in the core. To some extent, the twenty-first century’s global networking economy is reversing this trend because the workplace now thrives on the collaboration of a highly skilled labor force working in close proximity to each other. A number of cities have revitalized under-utilized urban areas, including obsolete industrial sectors, by turning them into vibrant cityscapes that provide an attractive environment for an information and technology driven economy. Barcelona, Spain’s new innovation district provides an excellent model for the successful transformation of an industrial area into a viable entrepreneurial core of mixed uses and green space. Known as the 22@ Project, the innovation district provides a structure for the creation of knowledge, technology, and scientific based businesses, 4,000 social housing units, and green space as well as the infrastructure necessary to support the new activities.
This article explores how Barcelona’s innovation district can serve as an exemplar for the regeneration of urban areas into productive networking hubs in the United States. It examines the key elements of Barcelona’s plan to regenerate an under-utilized industrial area. In particular, the article focuses on the 22@ Project’s subsidized housing element and evaluates its applicability to other metropolitan regions.
The article argues that Barcelona’s commitment to avoid social exclusion on the basis of race and income should be emulated by other providers of publicly subsidized housing. It traces the history of spatially segregated public housing in the United States and outlines strategies to increase opportunities for integration in publicly assisted housing. The article analyzes possible constraints upon the provision of inclusionary housing in the United States following the United States Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District. Using the Barcelona innovation district as a guide, the article provides suggestions as to how housing should be planned in an innovation district to maximize the opportunities for economic growth, social cohesion, and enhanced sustainability.
Keywords: innovation, district, housing, Koontz, spatial segregation, cities, urban, urban innovation districts; territorial sustainability, spatial segregation avoidance by income and class in the provision of social housing
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