NEWS - 2020/09/25

Mobility After COVID-19 Through the Redesign of Public Spaces and Public Transport Use

A consortium led by CARNET, with the participation of Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya· BarcelonaTech, Barcelona School of Design and Engineering (Elisava), the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC), and the municipality of Milan and AMAT, won a competitive call launched by the EIT Urban Mobility to address urban mobility challenges posed by the COVID-19 with their project FURNISH (Fast Urban Responses for New Inclusive Spaces and Habitat), meant to create healthier public spaces for a world dealing with a pandemic. 

The lockdown triggered by the COVID-19 crisis has increased awareness of the value of urban public spaces. The responsibility of avoiding crowded spaces, which represent a serious risk of resurgences of COVID-19 cases, has raised the question of how cities can expand their public space and how we can design our cities safely. Consequently, the FURNISH project aims to collaboratively redesign our public spaces to answer to current needs.

As part of the project, a call for teams will be launched throughout Europe and seven teams will participate in the co-creative process coordinated by CARNET. All teams will consist of a design entity (professional, academic or institutional), as well as a fabrication facility from the same municipality. They will design Mobile Urban Elements (MUE) and deploy them to temporarily design new pedestrian-oriented spaces to prevent overcrowding. Through collaboration workshops and the creation of a knowledge community, all teams will develop these temporary urban elements. After the project all MUE will be available as open source materials for any city around the world. Because, as the pandemic is spreading around the whole world, it’s more important than ever to work as a team to overcome the current challenge.  

FutureMob, the second COVID-19 oriented project, is led by Barcelona’s Metropolitan Area with the collaboration of CARNET, ZONE Cluster Nonprofit Ltd., Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya · Barcelona Tech, EDC Debrecen Urban and Economic Development Center, Moven, Ciclogreen Move And Win, and Lobelia Earth. Because of the variety of partners included in the project, ranging from start-ups to first-level universities, the knowledge background will be as extensive as possible.

The use of bikes or small private vehicles has increased for the past months, as it is a perfect way to ensure social distancing while still being sustainable. In this context, this project consists of monthly mobility challenges based on a gamification approach. They will reward citizens and corporates for working from home and for using sustainable and Covid-safe mobility options. Through the use of an application and website, FutureMob will provide accurate mobility patterns and air quality insights to give updated information to citizens and help city planners reorganize public space.

By offering a service that motivates end users, FutureMob aims at changing mobility habits into more sustainable ones and create COVID19-resilient cities in line with a green economy, as one of the tools offered by the application will be showcasing local businesses to help regrow our economy.

The recent COVID-19 outbreak has brought to the public attention a deeper understanding of the severity of air pollution in our cities, as it has been proved that high levels of air pollution are related to an increased COVID lethality. We have also observed that, during the pandemic crisis and due to lower levels of mobility, the air quality has vastly improved in our cities. In this context, both consortiums participating in these projects understand the importance of reshaping our cities. Creating public spaces that assure social distance, but also developing new mobility projects that reduce the existing pollution levels and create healthier environments, is crucial in a world dealing with a pandemic to minimize its effects on the citizens.