Cities of the future: Barcelona’s shining example

Cities of the future: Barcelona’s shining example

Picture Barcelona and an array of vibrant images may spring to mind. A zesty city, rich in historical and cultural attractions, from Gaudi’s distinctive architecture which permeates through its 39 square miles – to the world-renowned cuisine and exclusive superyacht scene. That’s without even mentioning the city’s enviable location, sprawling out from the Collserola mountain ranges all the way down to the glittering Mediterranean beachfront, a feature that crystallises Barcelona’s heavy tourist appeal. But now, as the world navigates its way out of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Catalan capital is redefining itself as a leading city of the future and hotspot for international investment, thanks largely to a number of sustainable initiatives.

As discussed in The Wealth Report 2021, Barcelona is fast becoming a pioneer of urban sustainability. This is largely due to the election in 2015 of Mayor Ada Colau, who since taking office has determinedly reclaimed boulevards from cars, radically increased green space and incorporated social and environmental criteria into public procurement. In December 2020, Colau announced that 21 streets in the popular Eixample district would become pedestrianised, at a cost of €38 million.

“Change can begin in urban centres,” Colau told the press in December. “Cities can play a pivotal role in transitioning energy use away from fossil fuels. They can adopt non-polluting modes of transport and build green public spaces that absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen.”

Colau’s vision for the city is underpinned by the Climate Action Plan 2018–2030, a road map aimed at cutting emissions up to 45% by 2030, with the goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

A big part of this plan is the introduction of ‘superblocks’, a new wave of which was initiated in 2016. While not a new concept, superblocks are areas of around 40 acres that will be made car-free, excluding residents’ vehicles, emergency services and deliveries. The goal is to implement more than 500 superblocks, which could prevent 667 premature deaths every year, according to a study carried out by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health Traffic.

Of course, city rejuvenation operates in tandem with real estate investment, and a new wave of residential developments. Leading the way in forward-thinking and luxurious developments is Antares, developed by Shaftesbury Asset Management Group (SAM Group), one of Europe’s leading real estate, investment, fund and asset management firms.

Located in renowned Diagonal Mar, home to the largest international community in the city, Antares benefits from a prime beachfront location and unbeatable views of the Mediterranean Sea, brought to life by French visionary architect Odile Decq, whose “design embraces the city” according to Laurel Polleys, Director at Shaftesbury Asset Management Group. The development itself closely resembles a contemporary art installation: 89 residences that seem to expand upwards into the sky with striking fluidity. Offering one, two, three and four-bedroom apartments, duplexes and penthouses, each with a private terrace – space, light and thoughtful design define this development.

Cities can play a pivotal role in transitioning energy use away from fossil fuels. They can adopt non-polluting modes of transport and build green public spaces that absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen.

Philippe Camus, CEO at Shaftesbury Asset Management Group, explains the context behind Antares: “In Barcelona, we saw the potential to create a luxury residential development with a distinctive design, in a city where the buildings adhere to older design aesthetics with low rise structures that have a very traditional look and feel. There were very few high-end properties that offer a luxury living experience, from spacious floorplans to a thoughtful amenities program that offers a wide array of activities throughout. We wanted to create a building that celebrates its location alongside the ocean and provides ample outdoor space so residents can also enjoy the views. We feel Antares brings together various elements that discerning buyers are searching for including homes with high-end finishes, significant outdoor spaces and health and wellness activities that people are looking for to complete a healthy lifestyle.

“We also wanted to create a product that did not already exist in Barcelona and that is attractive to foreign investors. Antares’s outdoor terraces allow residents to take in the fantastic sea views, and its close proximity to offices, tech centres, shopping areas and some of the world’s most celebrated restaurants, allowing residents to truly enjoy all the neighbourhood has to offer. Odile Decq is known around the world for her bold designs. This is her first residential development and first building in Barcelona, so it is truly special. We worked closely with her to incorporate many interesting features.”

Antares features a 24-hour concierge, security services and private parking, a biophilic design-lead wellness area, indoor pool, jacuzzi, steam, spa and treatment rooms, state-of-the-art yoga pod, infinity rooftop pool with 360° city and sea views, landscaped gardens and cinema. It will also include a restaurant open to the public, overseen by star chef Romain Fornell, called Grand Café Rouge. Fornell has a 15-year storied history in Barcelona, with 13 restaurants in his name and the accolade of youngest chef ever to win a Michelin star at the age of 24. Located in the base of Antares, the 200-seat restaurant will serve chic food inspired by Spanish culture and featuring local produce. The restaurant itself is also designed by Odile Decq.

So, in addition to the city’s future-embracing plans, what is it about Barcelona that is so internationally appealing?

“There are many aspects of living in Barcelona that would appeal to an international investor. There’s a real sense of space and the cost of living is comparatively low compared to other major European cities.” Camus explains simply. “The weather is fantastic year-round and the universities provide excellent educational opportunities” adds Polleys.

Odile Decq is known around the world for her bold designs. This is her first residential development and first building in Barcelona, so it is truly special.

“There’s this entrepreneurial innovative streak in Barcelona that comes from its Catalan heritage,” she continues. “They’ve got a fantastic talent pool, and since the 1992 Olympics, Barcelona has really focused on its status as one of the world’s smart cities. The 22@ innovation district, neighbouring Antares, has been dubbed the Silicon Valley of Europe.”

“There was also a concerted effort to bring in urban technology like district heating and cooling systems, an innovative centralised district garbage removal system; features that have been implemented into the infrastructure of Antares.”

Uniquely positioned on Barcelona’s famous shoreline, Antares sets a new benchmark in contemporary living.

Camus adds, “Everyone talks about the quality of life, health and wellbeing in Barcelona. There is an incredible Catalan food scene, from three-star Michelin restaurants and fresh seafood to the lively tapas bars. We are excited to be a part of that incredible food scene with Chef Romain Fornell and Grand Café Rouge. The artistic, historical and cultural aspects of the city give it enduring appeal.”

As cities around the world navigate their way out of the pandemic and refocus on the continuing issues of climate change and sustainability, Barcelona provides a snapshot of what the future could look like. This is a city with a vision, one which it’s not afraid to share with the world – demonstrating both radical thought and characteristic flare.

Antares is a development of 1-4 bedroom residencies offering iconic Luxury Living in Cosmopolitan Barcelona. Please contact oliver@banks@knightfrank.com for more information.

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