The International Exhibition of 1929 has historically been considered one of the great forgotten despite the profound impact it had on the city. Despite the economic difficulties at the time it was held and the million dollar deficit it left in the municipal coffers, the event involved a great urban transformation that has lasted to this day, with the urbanization of Montjuïc as one of its more visible works. With an eye on this ephemeris, the centenary commission of the 1929 International Exhibition, made up of the Barcelona City Council, the Generalitat and the Fira de Barcelona, ​​held its first meeting yesterday to renovate the fairgrounds of Montjuïc with the announcement of an international architecture competition.

This transformation will focus on three areas that will serve to modernize the fair facilities with the aim of adapting them to the new demands of the 21st century. In this sense, a new congress hall will be built in the Alfons XIII pavilion, which will be rehabilitated and adapted to the new uses while maintaining the protected heritage elements. This building will have an auditorium with 1,600 seats, as well as multipurpose rooms, for meetings and for exhibitions. On the other hand, in the current congress hall, a modern multi-functional two-storey pavilion will be created, which will also occupy part of Plaça Univers and the current pavilion 4. The future facility, with 19,500 m2 fair exhibition, will host salons, congresses and corporate events. For its part, Palau del Vestit, whose facade overlooks Plaça Espanya, will have a space for permanent economic activity for emerging companies and research centers with initiatives linked to the fair sector.

In terms of the calendar, the architectural competition will be launched on May 15 with three lots for each of the projects with the idea that work will begin in 2026 and end in 2029, coinciding with the centenary of the International Exhibition. The total investment for this first phase of works amounts to 290 million, of which 35 will be allocated to urbanization work in this area of ​​Montjuïc, such as Maria Cristina avenue. A figure higher than the first estimate presented in December, which was 175 million. But the deep remodeling does not end here and when these works are completed, between 2029 and 2030 the reform of the rest of palace 8 and that of number 1, the Communications and Transport pavilion, will be undertaken, which will be rehabilitated for uses fairs and is already included in the call for the architectural competition. Those in charge explained that not all the works will be carried out at the same time in order to have spaces to hold fairs. The actions will be financed through the society Fira 2000, which includes the Generalitat, the Barcelona City Council, the Barcelona Provincial Council, the Barcelona Metropolitan Area, the Hospitalet de Llobregat City Council and the Chamber of Commerce

“It will be a first-class international competition. We do it with the utmost ambition to once again have iconic buildings in Barcelona that represent the good and the best of international architecture”, said the mayor, Jaume Collboni. For his part, the Minister of Business and Work, Roger Torrent, highlighted the public-private and institutional collaboration and assured that the remodeling must be “a springboard for transformation towards the new productive model”. Pau Relat, the president of the board of directors of Fira de Barcelona, ​​pointed out that this transformation will make it possible to have “a 21st century fair in Montjuïc with a modern, but very urban site, with civic and cultural uses”.

At the same time, without being included in the announced budget and pending the finalization of the schedule, it is planned to build around 500 public flats and various facilities, such as an outpatient clinic and a residence, which would be erected after the demolition of palace 2, the which overlooks Paral·lel and Carrer Lleida. On the other hand, work is being done on the expansion of the MNAC so that it grows in the Victòria Eugènia pavilion. 2029 will be a year that Montjuïc will once again be the protagonist as it was a century ago.