2007 Fast Cities

BARCELONA, Spain

Population > 4.8 million

Leading indicator > Home to 1,500 design studios, among them outposts of Hewlett-Packard, Volvo, and Audi, as well as 18 design schools

Fast companies > B01 Arquitectes; Morillas Brand Design; Smart Design

Paris and Milan may still get more ink, but Barcelona is the style capital of the European continent. Behind the twin towers of Richard Rogers's Hesperia Hotel and Jean Nouvel's Agbar high-rise, the congested district of Eixample is recovering its public spaces, with plans for a park with playgrounds, magnolia trees, benches, and statues within 200 meters of every resident by 2010.