Barcelona is on track to host Spain’s very first eco-district. It will be built on the site of the old Mercedes-Benz factory with the well-being of people and the environment in mind.
There will be office spaces, shops, homes and public facilities. The project is part of the European Circ-Boost initiative led by the University Politécnica de Cataluña (UPC). There will be almost nine hectares of car-free space and it will include 185,000 square metres of construction space. The focus will be on the application of circular economy principles in construction.
Within this sustainable design, the project defines five ways to develop this policy. The first and second are interrelated: since it will be a completely car-free space, replacing roads with trees and green areas (50%) will guarantee soil permeability. This creates a kind of climate refuge.
The other measures are the recycling of existing buildings, sustainability in the construction of new buildings and the use of clean energy sources that contribute to reducing the ecological footprint.
Sustainability as a basis
With the proposed sustainability measures, the initiators aim to demonstrate new and integrated solutions on a large scale for demolition, construction waste treatment, and the revaluation of waste into new products. “We must demonstrate that applying sustainability policies in construction is already possible, without complicating the construction process,” explains project coordinator Albert de la Fuente. Technology allows this and current legislation supports such initiatives.
Historical industrial heritage
The Mercedes-Benz complex was designed in 1951 as an aircraft engine factory and has been out of use since 2007. The eco-project is developed by Conren Tramway in collaboration with Batlleiroig. It is planned between the Sant Andreu del Palomar and Bon Pastor neighbourhoods. Furthermore, it will serve as a hub for design and innovation.
Approval of city and Generalitat
With the approval of the Barcelona Municipality, the ‘LaMercedes’ project will include extensive urban renewal. It is expected that the regional government, the Generalitat, will give the green light in November. This will pave the way for the necessary building permits.
Award-winning recycling project
The reuse of the entire infrastructure of the old factory recently won the Re-Use category of the WAFX Prize, part of the World Architecture Festival (WAF). Circ-Boost will conduct its pilot in this project. It will use digital twins for databases with material information and techniques for soil remediation and reuse. Furthermore, wireless sensors and Near Field Communication tags will be used for material tracking.
Sustainability in European cities
In addition to Barcelona, four other pilot projects in European cities within the framework of Circ-Boost, including Paris for optimizing waste streams from the 2024 Olympic Games, and projects in Vesterålen (Norway), Prague (Czech Republic), and Belgrade (Serbia) aimed at the reuse of building materials.
Future-oriented data and legislation
The monitoring of sustainable solutions will result in a public database with tools and recommendations to stimulate sustainable initiatives and legislation in future construction projects.