City of rents: The limits to the Barcelona model of urban competitiveness

Greig Charnock, Thomas F. Purcell, Ramon Ribera-Fumaz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The turn towards the knowledge-based economy and creative strategies to enhance urban competitiveness within it has been well documented. Yet too little has been said to date about the transformation of land use for new productive activities, and the contradictions inherent to this process. Our case study is Barcelona, an erstwhile 'model' for urban regeneration which has sought to transform itself into a global knowledge city since 2000. Through the lens of Marxian value theory, and Harvey's writing on urban monopoly rents especially, we show how the 22@Barcelona project - conceived with received wisdom about the determinants of urban knowledge-based competitiveness in mind - amounted to an exercise in the capture of monopoly rents, driven by the compulsion of public sector institutions, financiers and developers to pursue rental profit-maximizing opportunities through the mobilization of land as a financial asset. © 2013 Urban Research Publications Limited.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)198-217
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Urban and Regional Research
Issue number1
Early online date12 Nov 2013
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014


  • Barcelona
  • Crisis
  • Monopoly rent
  • Property as a financial asset


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