During its first year, the IC3 was located at a site belonging to the University of Barcelona, situated in the former Geography and History library at no. 2 Carrer de Baldiri Reixach, 08028 Barcelona, managed by the Barcelona Science Park Foundation (PCB). However, using PCB space at a reasonable price, as required by IC3, subsequently became impossible due to the Institution’s immediate needs to grow. Therefore, the fact that the rental prices for space were very high and that the directorate of the PCB could not offer any possibility of enlarging these spaces for the second half of 2009 forced the Director of IC3 to decide to look for a new location. After weeks of searching, better options were found more centrally within the city at much more competitive rental prices, between 40% and 50% less than the former site.
The new site was finally found in Barcelona’s new 22@ district, an area dedicated to accommodating intensive knowledge-based activities. The chosen site was one of the city’s historic industrial buildings, called “El Cànem”, located at no. 203 Carrer del Doctor Trueta, close to the Rambla del Poblenou. It used to be a textile factory and had been a Republican prison during the Spanish Civil War, but was recently renovated for new uses. IC3’s research has been the first activity of late in the main building of the “El Cànem” complex, which has four stories. Initially, the top floor, with an area of 380 square meters and a large terrace, has been used for IC3‘s research activities, as it provides sufficient space and lots of light for the workspace. It is anticipated that in the near future, the first floor will host a supercomputer that will enable pioneering simulations in climate modeling and predictions of strategic value. The interior proposed for the new office was implemented in accordance with high standards of sustainability, using recycled materials or those with minimal environmental impact. The use of recycled wood for separating office spaces, meeting rooms and the scientific staff’s cubicles is particularly noteworthy.
The current IC3 headquarters are located in the Poblenou area of Barcelona, at the old textile plant known as “El Cànem”, or “The Canvas”. Around 1880, the Godó family, who also owned famous Catalan newspaper La Vanguardia, set up a jute mill at a site on Carrer de Ramón Turró, then called Carrer Enna.
This factory was known as “Els Sacs”, or “The Bags”, but just a short while later, canvas become the most commonly used fiber and the majority of the local people began calling the factory “El Cànem”. For many years it was the only textile factory working with canvas in Spain, thus making it the most important one. At its peak, it provided work for at least 2,000 employees, most of them women and children. Women worked under terrible conditions because of the dust emitted by the canvas. Women who worked at “El Cànem” were called “bedbugs” because of the smell of the canvas. Even renowned writer Xavier Berenguer wrote about the women’s tough working conditions, and since 1999 there has a plaque on the Rambla del Poblenou in their memory. During the week known as the “Tragic Week” (end of July 1909), workers from Poblenou burned down the Workers’ Foundation next to the Godós’ factory. That is when its owner decided to hand over a plot of land near the textile mill to the Civil Guard police force so they could watch over the workers.
The Godós’ factory was collectivized during the Civil War, as a large number of its workers were anarchists. Despite the improvements made by some companies due to collectivization, the return of the owners of “El Cànem” meant many workers were fired and reported to the Franco regime. During the post-war period, around 1937, the Godós decided to hand over the old “El Cànem” factory facilities to the Franco regime, and the textile mill was used for nearly four years as a prison for Republicans, reminiscent of a concentration camp. Meanwhile, the textile activity continued in the new facilities, a factory that later became the new print works for the newspaper.
The factory was finally closed in the 1960s, but recently these facilities with such an eventful past have been used to accommodate a new organization, both giving a new life and purpose to the building and providing space for the growing IC3.