Fira de Barcelona is expanding and renovating its Gran Via and Montjuïc sites. An agreement signed with senior representatives of Catalan institutions on 19 February was the first step on this ambitious project.
The goal is clear: to strengthen the leadership of the institution for fairs and congresses, to make it more competitive internationally and to contribute to the business activity of the region. This cost of this major project for trade fair infrastructures has been estimated at 380 million euros.
Fira’s current sites, which are subject to intensive use at present, are likely to be saturated in the medium term. In an international context of maximum rivalry between cities competing to attract major events, it is necessary to invest large sums in facilities like these.
Fira de Barcelona wants to continue attracting first class international events, respond to the growth of the fairs organized by the institution and reaffirm its position as one of the main social and economic drivers of the region. This necessarily means that it has to expand and redesign its buildings.
Gran Via from 240,000 m2 to 300,000 m2
The facilities designed by the Japanese architect Toyo Ito, built in several stages between 1995 and 2011, currently offer some 240,000 m² of overall exhibition space. This will be expanded to 300,000 m² with the aim of enabling our own fairs and those of others to grow, to compete with the most important fairs in the world, attract major events and hold various activities at the same time.
It will expand into the land on the city block limited by the Avenue of Joan Carles I and the streets of Ciéncies, Salvador Espriu and José Agustín Goytisolo, in Hospitalet de Llobregat, where there are currently two buildings and unoccupied lots.
One two-storey building with 60,000m2 of exhibition space will be built, with another block for offices and fair services that will link with Pavilion 1 and the Europa Hall of the main site through an overpass that will extend the walkway that runs the length of all the pavilions.
Completion of the expansion is planned for 2024.
The “Univers Montjuïc” project
For its part, the “Univers Montjuïc” project, which is still being studied, is considering the remodelling of the current site, built for the Universal Exhibition of 1929, to adapt it to the demands of trade fairs in the 21st century, with functional, flexible, sustainable and efficient facilities built to top-quality urban and constructive standards, while retaining the essence of this historic location, so dear to the public imagination of Barcelona.
The project, which is being prepared in collaboration with Barcelona City Council, seeks to generate new opportunities for development for the city and for Fira itself, to inspire more business activity, encourage innovation and entrepreneurship and revive spaces for the use of the citizens.
Once remodelled, the Montjuïc site will be able to host fairs by offering modular solutions that can adapt to the needs of a wide range of events where there will be areas for new ideas, coworking, or business showrooms. The Alfons XIII palace with its auditorium will be destined to host congresses and the Victòria Eugenia palace used for cultural events.
The urban planning interventions proposed by the Council involve reforming the Avenue Reina Maria Cristina into a traffic-free esplanade. Along with other road planning works, there is now the opportunity to create new spaces for the use of the city’s inhabitants, either for facilities or residential use.
The plans indicate that the project will end in 2029, to coincide with the centenary of the International Exhibition of 1929, which was such an important milestone in the history of trade fairs in Barcelona.
These interventions supplement Barcelona City Council’s decision to grant Fira responsibility for managing the Barcelona International Convention Centre (CCIB) for 25 years, starting in November 2021. This decision means that Fira can use these three facilities in the city to prepare a fully integrated strategy for fairs and congresses.
Financing the investment
- The regional government, the Generalitat, together with the other administrations and institutions, will propose the most appropriate financing instruments to tackle the new investments that are eligible for support from the European Union.
- The management company Fira 2000 is preparing a project to develop the finances and assets involved in the new investments required by the fair sites, based on the model applied in 2006 for the construction of the Gran Via site, based on contributions from a number of institutions. These new investments can be paid for without increasing the annual sums these institutions already provide for Fira 2000, simply by extending them over a longer period than originally planned.