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Barcelona, Spain, 14 October 2020

  • FURNISH is a project meant to redesign the world’s streets and reconfigure public spaces through the use of temporary Mobile Urban Elements (MUE)
  • 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.
  • CARNET, UPC · BarcelonaTech, Elisava, and the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) are organizing the open call for proposals.

Many European cities are looking to redesign their public spaces. After the COVID-19 lockdown, public spaces became too crowded, making it impossible to ensure safe social distancing. EIT Urban Mobility launched a call dedicated to addressing urban mobility challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The call was part of the EIT’s Crisis Response Initiative, which directly contributes to the European Union’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A consortium led by CARNET, with the participation of UPC · BarcelonaTech, Barcelona School of Design and Engineering (Elisava), the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC), and the municipality of Milan and AMAT won one of the grants with their project FURNISH (Fast Urban Responses for New Inclusive Spaces and Habitat). This winning proposal has organized another open call for projects, whose goals go further than preventing the spread of COVID-19 by enlarging public spaces, to also increase local digital fabrication capacities.

Recently, we have observed that society is more than ready to collaborate to fight against COVID-19, as demonstrated by the decentralized provision of 3D printed materials to medical staff during the pandemic. This project aims to empower locals by giving them a chance to participate in the creation of their own city’s new image. Provisional urbanism requires provisional urban elements, produced in the communities themselves, to promote the digital reindustrialization of cities and reduce their forced mobility.

The call as part of the FURNISH project has been open to teams throughout Europe. All teams must comprise a design entity (professional, academic or institutional), as well as a fabrication facility from the same municipality. A total of 7 teams are participating in the project, 4 selected through the open call and 3 headed by the FURNISH design partners (UPC/Elisava/IAAC). As this project intends to create a common workspace based on collaboration, all 7 teams will take part in a series of virtual workshops led by the consortium members, so that all 7 projects benefit from awareness of one another and access to the other teams’ expertise.

Teams will work on new mobility projects and design temporary mobile urban elements to reconfigure public spaces. The proposals will envision the reorganization of public spaces through the deployment of these temporary urban elements.

The website has already been launched (https://www.furnish.tech), and from 10 September until 25 September it accepted team applications. After this period, selected teams will spend the following two months being mentored through the project until the manufacturing of prototypes. The process will end in December, when all the results and materials created will be published on the Open Innovation Platform and made freely available for use anywhere around the world.

The process will create an open-source repository of knowledge related to urban planning, mobility, social behavior, and urban elements, that can be reproduced anywhere in the world.