20.08.2014

Yesterday’s buildings are tomorrow’s Smart Cities

Yesterday

Image | Ajuntament de Barcelona

We’ve seen them in science fiction movies, but Smart Cities are more and more a reality. There are currently many companies focusing their development on this type of technology and cities which have become international reference points in this sector. Barcelona is one of those cities that is banking on innovation and entrepreneurship. The city has now launched one of its most innovative projects, which involves the refurbishment of one of the most emblematic buildings in the district of Sant Martí. The old Ca l’Alier factory will become a Smart City technology R&D center, with help from the companies Cisco and Schneider Electric.Months ago we knew the new about the transfer of this building by the local government to the Cisco Company, but recently Schneider Electric have joined to the project.

Cisco, an American company renowned worldwide for its telecommunications equipment manufacturing, sales, maintenance and consulting services, and Schneider Electric, a French company concentrating in the heavy industry and power sectors, will between them invest a total of 37 million euros in this project, which aims to take a first step towards the urban renewal of the northern part of the 22@, creating the Smart City Campus initiative.

The facility will feature private and public zones everyone can access, such as the central nave, with a reception area, gardens, and even an urban orchard. This is the public part, but the center will also house an incubator for technological start-ups, a Cisco Systems innovation and demonstration center, Schneider Electric’s first center for excellence in the world, and offices of the municipal foundation Barcelona Institute of Technology for the Habitat (BIT Habitat). In addition, the building will host training programs, conferences and exhibitions related to Smart Cities, and much more.

Yesterday

Image | Ajuntament de Barcelona

This project bolsters Barcelona’s profile as a focal point for other international companies, and also represents a project that will offer close to 160 direct jobs, along with the increase in activity that the Sant Martí district will enjoy.

The revamping of the building aims to convert the historic infrastructure into a prototype of a self-sufficient building, with sustainable materials and guided by respect for environmental criteria. It should be noted that the Ca l’Alier is a building dating from the second half of the 19th century, so the remodeling work will be carried out with great care, respecting the original infrastructure while replacing damaged materials and installing renewable energy systems: solar (thermal and photovoltaic), wind turbines and geothermal, enabling the building to be energy self-sufficient.

Yesterday

Image | Ajuntament de Barcelona

Work on this project will commence in January of 2015 and is estimated to conclude in the summer of 2016. Thus, we have a long wait ahead, but in the meantime we will surely see breakthroughs that will make our cities better places to live. What we have always referred to as “The Future” is fast becoming the present, and thanks to initiatives like this one we are increasingly closer to living in cities that are clean, uncontaminated, and energy efficient.