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FURNISH – THE PROJECT THAT IS RECONFIGURING PUBLIC SPACE ACROSS EUROPE

FURNISH – THE PROJECT THAT IS RECONFIGURING PUBLIC SPACE ACROSS EUROPE

  • FURNISH is redesigning the world’s streets and reconfiguring public spaces through the use of temporary Mobile Urban Elements (MUE) to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • CARNET, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya · Barcelona Tech (UPC), Elisava, the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC), the City of Milan, and AMAT are the partners of this project. 
  • The project is funded by EIT Urban Mobility, an innovation community bringing together academia, research, businesses, and cities to work on innovative solutions for the mobility challenges cities are facing.

In the current times, where cities are facing new mobility restrictions, ensuring social distancing is still an issue for the majority of countries to avoid a larger spread of COVID-19. In this context, the teams participating in the FURNISH project have deployed their designs onto the streets of their cities with the goal of mitigating the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A total of 23 teams applied to the open call, which resulted in 4 winning teams from different European countries. During the past months, they have been working jointly with the consortium members through mentoring and virtual workshops, which has involved more than 70 professionals, to design unique temporary urban elements. The 7 teams (4 selected through the open call and 3 headed by the FURNISH design partners) have now reached the last stage of the process and have already tested their creations on the streets of their respective cities. 

The contexts where these prototypes have been tested are cultural, educational, recreational, and commercial activities that take place in public space. In these situations, new spaces need to be gained, often in a temporary way. FURNISH proposals help expand public space in areas temporarily cut off from circulation.

The seven prototypes, located in five different European cities, have been tested by more than 300 people through “living labs”, as the end-users of these designs have participated in the evaluation of the pieces, made digitally in FabLabs. The cities where these tests are taking place are: Espoo (Finland), Barcelona (Spain), Budapest (Hungary), Guimarães (Portugal), and Milan (Italy). 

The project has been developed by a consortium led by CARNET (an initiative coordinated by CIT UPC), with the participation of Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya · Barcelona Tech (UPC), Barcelona School of Design and Engineering (Elisava), the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC), and the municipality of Milan and AMAT. FURNISH won one of the EIT’s Crisis Response Initiative grants, which directly contributes to the European Union’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the end of the process, an open-source repository will be created with all materials designed. It will be made freely available for use anywhere around the world, making this a project that intends to facilitate social distancing globally with elements that are easy to replicate. Furthermore, sustainability has been addressed during the process, as FURNISH proposals promote full life cycle consideration of the materials used, as well as economic sustainability, and positive influence on health, wellbeing, and ecological systems.

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