Exploring Barcelona’s New Village in Poblenou, Barcelona, Spain
When walking the streets of Poblenou you come across strong contrasts, interrupted vertical symmetry and a mixture of rough and smooth in relation to textures, structures and colours. The New Village, as the name of this area can be translated from Catalan, was once a town completely separate from Barcelona but as the city started to expand it became another neighbourhood bordering with the sea.
I have discovered Poblenou in my first days since I moved to Barcelona back in 2013. I decided to avoid the crowds in Barceloneta and venture out a bit further than the Port Olimpic and the Bogatell beach. The Rambla del Poblenou with its small cafes and bars, tall trees providing a cooling shade and the decorative Modernista facades charmed me straight away. As soon as I left the lively Rambla and started walking down the wide streets of Poblenou it was clear to me that this area has much more to offer than great spots for a coffee or a bite to eat. It was the urban landscape filled with warehouses, factories and their chimneys that won over my heart.
During the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century, Poblenou was the heart of Catalan and Iberian industry. The close proximity to the sea ensured the ease of transportation and water supply so the factories were built, the jobs created and the machines went on and on manufacturing whatever was in demand back then. However, in the 60s, industrial production relocated to other countries and regions of the world as global economy developed. Many factories were abandoned and the area slid into dereliction.
After a period of decay many of derelict office buildings, warehouses and factories are now restored and new property development started a few years ago. Modern architecture introduced a new symmetry, the order of a straight line and smooth textures. The Agbar Tower with its phallic shape, Hotel ME designed by Dominique Perrault and the Forum Building designed by Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, the Swiss architects behind Tate Modern and the Beijing National Stadium, represent some of the most iconic examples. This urban transformation brings up some of Poblenou’s contrasts even more though. For example if you peek inside vast industrial garages you might spot people fixing supermarket trolleys so they can keep their belongings while living rough in the streets of Barcelona – no fancy hotels there.
What excites me the most about Poblenou is its cultural offering and entrepreneurial and community spirit. So far I have seen few exhibitions at La Plataforma and attended a very unusual performance at The Sala Beckett. I know that I only scratched the surface. I have more to discover and as I continue to visit Poblenou it will be interesting to observe how it develops and shapes its identity.
I moved to Barcelona from London without speaking any Spanish or Catalan. It was challenging at first but as time went on I learned to find the strength and energy from discovering places around me and Poblenou is certainly one of those neighbourhoods in Barcelona that has inspired me a lot.
Photography enthusiast with a great interest in culture and travelling.
Barcelona, the heart of Catalonia, is a city of amazing architecture, fantastic weather and breathtaking nature. The sea and the mountains are there for any outdoor-loving types as well as vibrant life for party animals.
A perfect day would start with a morning run by the beach, followed by a breakfast consisting of a large coffee with milk and a croissant at one of the local cafes in Barceloneta. A visit to the MACBA art museum in Raval and a tasty lunch at my favourite vegetarian restaurant would be my plan in the afternoon. Catching up with friends is always the best in the evening over a plate of local tapas.
Access to the sea slightly away from the main tourist spots.
Local people speak Catalan.
What is my character limit? It is very difficult just to name a few.