El Fòrum

Area in Barceloneta, the Waterfront & El Poblenou

Once an urban wasteland, this area has seen dramatic changes since the turn of the millennium, with sparkling buildings, open plazas and waterfront recreation areas. The most striking element is the eerily blue, triangular Edifici Fòrum building by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron, which houses the Museu Blau.

The facades look like sheer cliff faces, with angular crags cut into them as if by divine laser. Grand strips of mirror create fragmented reflections of the sky.

Next door, Josep Lluís Mateo’s high-tech Centre de Convencions Internacional de Barcelona (CCIB) is a massive work in steel with intriguing contours.

A 300m stroll east from the Edifici Fòrum is the Zona de Banys, with kayaks and bikes available for rent, the option to learn diving, plus other activities. This tranquil seawater swimming area was won from the sea by the creation of massive cement-block dykes. At its northern end, like a great rectangular sunflower, an enormous photovoltaic panel turns its face up to the sun to power the area with solar energy. Along with another set of solar panels in the form of porticoes, it generates enough electricity for 1000 households. Just behind it spreads Port Fòrum, Barcelona’s third marina. The area is unified by an undulating esplanade and walkways (with wheelchair access) that are perfect for walking, bikes and skateboards.

In summer, a weekend amusement park sets up with all the usual suspects: rides, shooting galleries, snack stands, inflatable castles and dodgem cars.

The Parc de Diagonal Mar, designed by Enric Miralles, contains pools, fountains, a didactic botanical walk (with more than 30 species of trees and other plants) and modern sculptures.