Diagonal Mar, where the city’s longest avenue meets the Mediterranean, is one of the most distinctive districts in Barcelona. Urban planners transformed what was previously an industrial wasteland into a modern complex of luxury high-rise apartments, top-class hotels, office blocks, conference centres, a ‘starchitect’-designed park, a massive mall and a brand spanking new beach. Only a 20-minute metro ride to the heart of Barcelona’s old town, it feels like a different world entirely.
The popular Spanish saying ‘renovarse o morir’ (‘renovate or die’) comes to mind as you walk the streets of Diagonal Mar. It’s the latest in a long line of massive infrastructure projects to change Barcelona’s cityscape, following the two International Exhibitions of 1888 and 1929 and the legendary Olympic Games of 1992. The triangular Fòrum building jutting out into the sea is the legacy of a huge international symposium held in 2004. Nowadays it serves as a hub for corporate events and conferences. It’s also the venue for some of the world’s biggest music festivals – such as Primavera Sound – together with year-round exhibitions.