The European project FURNISH promotes the redesign of public spaces to prevent the spread of COVID-19


Most of us have experienced it first hand: after the months of strict confinement experienced throughout the country in the wake of COVID-19, when we were able to go out on the streets again, one reality became more evident than ever: our streets, squares, parks, in short, our cities, are not ready to walk, move and, in a word, live in them. Public spaces became excessively crowded, making it impossible to guarantee social detachment. This is why many European cities are redesigning their public spaces. 

In this context, the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) - Urban Mobility launched a call to address the challenges of urban mobility posed by the pandemic. The call is part of the EIT's Crisis Response Initiative, which contributes directly to the European Union's actions against COVID-19. A consortium led by CARNET, an initiative coordinated by CIT UPC with the participation of Elisava, the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya - BarcelonaTech (UPC), the Institute of Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC), the City of Milan and AMAT, won one of the grants with its project FURNISH (Fast Urban Responses for New Inclusive Spaces and Habitat). 

FURNISH is organizing an open call for teams with the aim of preventing the spread of COVID-19 by redesigning and reorganizing public spaces. In addition, it also seeks to increase local digital manufacturing capacity, a growing trend, as demonstrated by the decentralized supply of 3D printed materials to healthcare workers during the pandemic.

Open call for manufacturers and designers from all over Europe

The call for the FURNISH project is open to teams from all over Europe. All groups must be formed by a design entity (professional, academic or institutional), as well as a manufacturing company from the same municipality. A total of 7 teams will participate in the project; 4 selected through the open call and 3 led by the FURNISH partners (UPC/Elisava/IAAC). 

The teams will work collaboratively on new mobility projects and will design temporary mobile urban elements to reconfigure public spaces. The proposals will contemplate the reorganization of public spaces, especially those that present greater problems of capacity, through the use of these elements. "The crisis of COVID-19 is an opportunity to promote a dynamic design, use and management of public space, in which social distancing encourages interaction rather than isolation", says Roger Páez, director of the Master's Degree in Ephemeral Architecture and Temporary Spaces (MEATS) at Elisava and project manager of FURNISH at the School.

The acceptance of team applications will be open from September 10th to 25th, after which the teams will have two months of advisory work. The process will end in December, when all the results and materials created will be published in the Open Innovation Platform and will be available for free. The project will also create an open source repository of knowledge related to urban planning, mobility, social behavior and urban elements, which can be reproduced anywhere in the world.

This project is funded by EIT Urban Mobility, an initiative of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). EIT Urban Mobility acts to accelerate positive change on mobility to make urban spaces more liveable. Learn more: