‘RAW’, an european project to transform public space through free and safe play

RAW is a prototype that supports free, safe play in the city through the temporary transformation of public space. It is an open, modular system made up of prefabricated rammed sand units, which can be adapted to the circumstances of the surroundings. It is based on a single piece that can be stacked and arranged in different configurations. This generates levels, sequences, and nooks that endow the public space with qualities that attract activities associated with school environments.

Using sand as a building material for ephemeral architecture may seem paradoxical, but it has many advantages. Sand can be given a variety of finishes; as proof of this, RAW uses it in three different densities: prefabricated, rammed manually, and loose. This variability adds complexity the resulting uses and types of play. Additionally, sand is a natural, reusable, and recyclable material with a very small carbon footprint. At the end of the prototype’s useful life in public space, it will be reused on the playground of the Antoni Brusi school in a new configuration co-designed by the children. As repeated use and play cause the blocks to break down, RAW will blend completely into the surface of the playground, returning to the natural cycle.

RAW represents a commitment to a non-extractive, adaptable public design that offers infinite opportunities for play. The initiative is part of Cross-KIC New European Bauhaus, a project promoted and financed by EIT Community New European Bauhaus.

Support for RAW was provided by CARNET, Barcelona City Council y la Antoni Brusi school. The prototype, designed and fabricated by an Elisava Research team led by Roger Paez, PhD, was tested in Barcelona in December 2021 and shared in open source so it can be implemented throughout Europe.


RAW was designed and fabricated by a team of researchers, professors, alumni and students of Elisava Barcelona School of Design and Engineering
Elisava Research: Roger Paez (PI/project manager), Jordi Queralt (design coord)
Elisava Alumni-Design: Liana Kalaitzoglou
Elisava Students-Assembly: Diana Mehrez, Emma Moreno, Eloi Sànchez, Qhosha Vad
Antoni Brusi School 6th grade students
Collaborators: CARNET, Ajuntament de Barcelona, Escola Antoni Brusi, GLS Prefabricats