“Post-Covid Public Space Transformations” is the topic of our current socio-spatial workshop. Over the past years, our students worked with Ciutat Refugi, a municipal program that handles the reception, accommodation and care of asylum seekers, to analyse the use of neighborhood’s services and facilities of refugees temporarily housed in Barcelona’s Casa Bloc and to design temporary stay and assistance centres for refugees. Last year we collaborated with Barcelona Regional to develop a new perspective for the transformation of Montjuïc into a more inclusive and diverse green infrastructure for the city of Barcelona. For this year’s workshop, led by our director Carmen Mendoza-Arroyo, assistant director Raquel Colacios and Apen Ruiz, we teamed up with Isabelle Anguelovski, Margarita Triguero-Mas, Helen Cole and Amalia Calderón from the Barcelona Laboratory for Urban Environmental Justice and Sustainability.
Covid-19 and the various measures and interventions to control its spread have strongly influenced how city residents relate to cities and public space. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of our local environment and the characteristics of local neighbourhoods due to the increased use of public spaces such as squares, parks or pedestrianized streets. In Barcelona, it has also had an impact on processes such as gentrification and touristification and has caused a huge decrease (to almost disappearance) in tourism. Can these changes lead to a recovery of the city and public spaces for its citizens? In this unique urban scenario, a gender perspective that takes into consideration how cities are designed and lived opens a possibility to examine not only how urban spaces and processes are gendered but more specifically the gendered uses of public space during the pandemic. Traditionally, cities have been planned by men. Public spaces reflect the gender inequalities that we experience. Women have a smaller radius of movement than men, and they move more on foot or by public transport. Their nocturnal mobility is conditioned by the perception of fear and the risk of experiencing sexual and verbal assaults. On the other hand, there are public care spaces that have traditionally been occupied by women and caregivers. In the specific context of the current pandemic, gender inequality is due to several factors. This includes a greater presence of women in essential services which are the labour sectors most exposed to contagion, the increase in unpaid work – especially the care for children, elderly or people with disabilities, and women being more affected by job insecurity and more represented in the informal economy. Therefore, women experience a greater degree of precariousness, in particular migrant and racialized women.
The objective of the course is the evaluation of specific vulnerabilities faced by women related to public space use and perception as well as the specific vulnerabilities in the (post) Covid-scenario. The students will look at a number of diverse public spaces in Barcelona are being used during the COVID-19 pandemic from a gendered perspective and how female and gender non-conforming residents perceive those spaces and are affected by those changes. Based on the analysis of these results, they will then propose recommendations for those spaces.
“As every crisis, the COVID pandemic has affected the most vulnerable populations in all our cities, and Barcelona is not an exception,” our director Carmen Mendoza-Arroyo explains. “Through this workshop we understand feminism as a movement which includes ‘all people who have been economically, socially and culturally marginalized by an ideological system that has been designed for them to fail’ as Eddo-Lodge states, and specifically on the vulnerability these groups suffer during a pandemic. How and for whom are these open spaces created for, and who uses them now and before the pandemic? These questions will be guiding the socio-spatial analysis the students will develop through fieldwork which will also be conditioned by restrictions of the ongoing pandemic. A real challenge!”
For the workshop, three public spaces in Barcelona have been selected that have undergone a deep transformation in the past years, which in turn has accelerated gentrification and touristification processes. These sites are the Jardins de la Rambla de Sants, the Superblock of Sant Antoni and the Green Axis Cristòbal de Moura in Poblenou.
The workshop will be developed through these main steps:
- Conceptual framework and research questions
- Post-pandemic Vulnerability and Physical Analysis (Post‐crisis vulnerability analysis and physical analysis at a neighbourhood scale)
- Data collection methods / Fieldwork at the open space scale
- Analysis of the results and recommendations
While our students are working on their concepts, we are looking forward to find out what recommendations for the transformation of these spaces they will develop! Don’t forget to check our blog to see the results.
In the meantime, have a look at this list of 22 essential reads on feminist architecture, urbanism and gender and space our staff collected for you!
Video of the green spaces in Cristóbal de Moura in Poblenou
Video of Jardins de la Rambla de Sants
Video of the Superilla Sant Antoni
Images: Ajuntament de Barcelona
Feature Image: Sigrid Ehrmann