The Scientific Research Awards recognise four UPC research projects to face the challenges of COVID-19 in Barcelona

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March 29, 2021


On 16 March, Mayor of Barcelona Ada Colau gave Awards for Scientific Research into Urban Challenges in the City of Barcelona 2020 to six researchers from the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya · BarcelonaTech (UPC) to develop innovative projects that provide solutions to the challenges associated with the pandemic and to rethink the model of the city in general. The researchers are Carme BarbaMarta DomènechMarta SerraCòssima CornadóDavid López and Sergi Nadal from the Barcelona School of Architecture (ETSAB), the Vallès School of Architecture (ETSAV), the Barcelona School of Civil Engineering and the Barcelona School of Informatics (FIB).

The Awards for Scientific Research given by Barcelona City Council have assigned 1.2 million euros to promote fifteen projects that address the new paradigm in the city, to face the emergency caused by the Covid-19 crisis.

In total, 65 projects entered the call, with a clear predominance of proposals by women in all entries and in the 15 projects that won awards, which have 23 beneficiaries.

The winning proposals of the scientific research awards are notable because they cover many fields, such as mobility and public space, data processing, housing, waste management and energy inequality, among others. The following projects won awards at the UPC.

Improvement in water resource management

The Hydrogeology Group of the UPC leads the project ‘Integrated management model of the Besòs water resources in the face of climate change: solutions for self-sufficiency and resilience of the water system in the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona (GiR-Besòs)’. It is focused on providing solutions to face future water management challenges in Barcelona and its metropolitan area. Therefore, the project is focused on drawing up an integrated management model for surface and underground resources and regenerated water from Baix Besòs, as a measure to contribute to water self-sufficiency in the Metropolitan areas of Barcelona in a context of climate change.

New uses for five underused buildings

The research group Architectural Rehabilitation and Restoration (REARQ) and other departments proposed an analysis in Ciutat Vella to promote innovative production models. Through the project ‘CO-HABITEM BARCELONA: Five case studies in Ciutat Vella for urban reuse and the promotion of innovative production models’ they will map five buildings and underused spaces and make proposals to reuse them. These are the buildings of Aduanes, Correus, Estació de França, Museu Martorell and the Castell dels Tres Dragons. The idea is to draw up an index of reuse and use these spaces for a range of temporary and mixed activities such as start-ups, accommodation, laboratories or artistic residences, among others. The aim is to give life to new experimental, innovative centres with capacity to host and share a wide range of uses.

Assessment of informal urban planning in the city

In response to the current climate and health emergency, the aim of the project ‘Tactical interventions in public space: a participatory diagnosis based on listening’ combines inhabitants’ knowledge and academic knowledge in the process of defining what is known as tactical urban in the city of Barcelona, as in the Superblock project, created by the research group  Architecture, City and Culture (ACC). The project proposes an exploration of the concepts of vulnerability, resistance and the temporary condition and is based on interviews with university staff and with social entities in the city that work to achieve social inclusion. The aim is to identify challenges and proposals to improve the future design of the city.  

Management of the data ecosystem

Finally, the Database Technologies and Information Management Group (DTIM) is coordinating the project ‘An Automatic Data Discovery Approach to Enhance Barcelona’s Data Ecosystem’. This proposal is focused on creating a platform directed by Barcelona City Council based on the city’s open data, to support data scientists with the process of developing smart applications. Using this shared system, the aim is to improve the management of the city from the perspective of public services and facilitate access to the enormous ecosystem of data on Barcelona.