Design for City Making

Design for City Making (DxCM) in Barcelona is a programme of design initiatives driven by Elisava, in collaboration with different partners. Each initiative is an autonomous contribution to the city making process. As a whole, they are a broad exploration of the Collaborative City scenario, its meaning and enforceability in Barcelona and the possibilities for design, and design schools, to become agents of its implementation (read more on Design for City Making Programme at Elisava).

DxCM is developed in the framework of the DESIS Thematic Cluster on Collaborative City (which, in turn, is a design research programme involving several DESIS Network Labs). It started in October 2017 and its activities are articulated in three phases: DxCM/1 (November 2017 – October 2018); DxCM/2 (November 2018 – October 2019); DxCM/3 (November 2019 – October 2020).

DxCM/1 Design for city making, in Barcelona

DxCM/1 has been the first phase of the Design for City Making Programme at Elisava. November 2017 to October 2018.

A discussion on the topic was opened to allow teachers and researchers, to coordinate the existing knowledge and background on the city making field, to create synergies for potential future projects. During this period, a group of 8 projects has been identified, discussed and developed. At the end of this first phase an exhibition has been realized. Its main goals have been to make visible and discussable the variety of contributions in terms of tools, methodologies and outcomes, that a design school such as Elisava can give to city making processes. The exhibition was also the venue for several events, workshops and meetings to promote the links with several city stakeholders.

DxCM/2 Connecting Diversities, in Ciutat Vella

DxCM/2 is the second step of the Design for City Making Programme at Elisava. November 2018 until October 2019.

In this second phase, the programme general theme has been redefined, and a more focused one has been proposed, indicating the Ciutat Vella as preferred action field and assuming the goal of “connecting diversities” as common goal. This last point implied to extend the notion of “resident” from the traditional, long-term ones, to tourists (transients residents), migrants (recent residents), local craftsmen (productive residents) and the same students and teachers. In this conceptual and operative framework several projects have been developed and, in parallel to them, a series of events, named The city of inter-actions, has been organised.

DxCM/3 Super Block scenario

DxCM/3 will be the third step of the Design for City Making Program at Elisava. October 2019 until November 2020.

It will explore the nature and the potentialities of the Super Block Scenario (SBS): a dense urban environment, endowed with a certain degree of autonomy. A space where competent and collaborative networks can emerge and thrive, offering residents a good quality of life while regenerating the ecosystems on which their same lives are based. The projects will be based on providing services, equipment, products or communication platforms that help consolidate the identity, interaction and common goals of these urban communities. In the framework of DxCM/3 a set of projects and public events, referring to this SBS, will be defined. 

DxCM projects involve a combination of undergraduate and postgraduate students from all fields of design (from engineering to interaction, from graphic to space) and are developed with a multidisciplinary team of tutors (designers, architects, engineers, artists and social scientists). All of them also foresee partnerships with external institutions, whether NGO, the city council, neighbourhood associations or companies. 

DxCM Public Events is a programme of open discussions and community building. It aims at empowering the on-going projects, proposing Elisava as agent of city making in Barcelona, establishing opportunities of conversation between different Ciutat Vella residents, and promoting future collaborations and projects.

The whole programme, the title of which is The city of inter-actions. Connecting people and places, moves from these questions: considering the on-going social and demographic changes in Ciutat Vella, how to regenerate its social fabric? How to build a new community of place? Which social services and which public spaces are needed to make these possibilities real?

Given these questions, each event is conceived as a public conversation in which some answers are proposed adopting a design approach. In particular, the working hypothesis: could Ciutat Vella social fabric be regenerated considering as "residents" not only the traditional and long-term ones, but also those who live in the neighbourhood only recently and for short periods? 


May 2019 

An inter-active community. Long-term, short-term and temporary residents.

How is the community of Ciutat Vella evolving? What could it become in the future? Could the long-term traditional residents build a community including also the new and short-term residents? How public services and public spaces could support the building of this new, open and inclusive community? 

June 2019

Transient residents. Tourists as members of an inter-active community.

Can tourists - or at least some of them, become members of the local community? How to transform the condition of tourist-as-consumer-of touristic-attractions, in the one of transient community member? Are there examples in which tourists are involved in community-based activities? What could be the role of public services in making it happen? 

June 2019

New residents. Migrants as members of an inter-active community.

Can people with different ethnic and cultural origin enrich a community? How could this contribution be (better) recognized and valorised? Are there examples in which this potentiality has been realised? Which public services are needed to sustain this highly diversify community? 


September 2019

Productive residents. Craftsmen as members of an inter-active community.

Can local craftsmen and other makers contribute in regenerating the community (creating job opportunities, economic revenue and cultural dynamism)? Are there some product-service systems that could make these productive activities better integrate in the local community life? What could be for them the most appropriate infrastructure? 

October 2019

Final Event: The city of interactions. Connecting people, regenerating urban ecosystems.

This is a conference organised by Elisava as conclusion of its second year of DxCM activities. Focusing on Barcelona, and in particular on Ciutat Vella, it offers different social actors the opportunity to exchange ideas on the on-going city making processes and the possible role of design, and design schools, in it.

In particular, it raises these questions: how to regenerate the (social and physical) urban ecosystems? Which services and which public spaces are needed to make it happen? How a design school can become a positive actor in the city making processes (in general and in the specific neighbourhood in which it is situated)? 

During the DxCM programme, several communication materials have been generated. This section presents a selection of them, such as: exhibitions, brochures, videos and photos.

In the framework of DxCM Programme, and in relation with it, different texts have been written. Some of them are internal notes written to start and support the discussion between the involved design teams and partners. Others are written for a larger audience discussion on the DxCM experiences.

  1. Design for City Making, in Barcelona. What can design do to trigger and support social innovation towards a collaborative, resilient and sustainable and city? - DxCM Programme, 30.03.2018.
  2. Collaborative cities. Background notes – DxCM Programme, 30.03.2018.
  3. Albert Fuster, Design for City Making, Paper for the DxCC Conference, Tongji, Shanghai, 28.10. 2018.
  4. Connecting Diversities. Background notes – DxCM/2 Second Year Programme
  5. The City of inter-actions. Background notes – DxCM/2 Public Events background.
  6. Super Block Scenario. The Barcelona case - DxCM/3 Third Year Programme Background notes.

If you are interested to have more information on this programme or to collaborate with it please send a e-mail to this address: