Policy & Global Development, Urban Planning, Environment and Health

Park(ing) Day 2021 Returns to the Streets of Barcelona to Promote Health-Centred Urban Planning

The event on Friday, 17 September will observe COVID-19 safety measures

Park(ing) Day 2020 photo

Groups and entities across the city of Barcelona are once again gearing up for Park(ing) Day, an initiative to promote an urban model designed by people, for people. Held in more than a hundred cities around the world—including in Barcelona on 17 September—this event involves citizens transforming parking spaces into parks, gardens and other alternative uses of public space . Park(ing) Day Barcelona is coordinated by Espai Ambiental Cooperativa and the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), a centre supported by the ”la Caixa” Foundation. The event revolves around installations developed by the participating organisations and is funded by the Barcelona City Council.

“Over the past few years, Barcelona has improved exponentially, but it still has a long way to go and has areas for improvement, especially in certain neighbourhoods,” commented Jennifer Coronado, a member of Espai Ambiental Cooperativa. Park(ing) Day seeks to highlight the impact of urban planning on human health and the need for urgent action to prevent the consequences of pollution in cities. “The particles and gases emitted by motor-vehicle traffic degrade public space and the health of city residents,” commented Celia Santos Tapia, a scientific outreach specialist at ISGlobal. “We need to rethink our urban model.”

Park(ing) Day 2021 will feature the participation of more than 50 entities whose installations will occupy a total of 92 parking spaces. These parking spaces will host a wide range of activities, including workshops, performances to raise awareness among children, reading and relaxation spaces, and citizen-science initiatives for the general public. By way of example, SPIN, an international company specialised in sustainable and shared mobility solutions, will set up an interactive station where people of all ages will be able to imagine an ideal city and generate shared ideas about the mobility of the future. The activities seek to promote the notion of a city that deprioritises cars and centres pedestrians by encouraging sustainable mobility and a healthy environment for residents.

Safety Measures

Like last year’s event, Park(ing) Day 2021 is tailored to the exceptional circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. Participating organisations are required to comply with the preventive, protective and organisational measures established by Barcelona City Council for events and activities on public roads during the pandemic. These measures include physical distancing, the use of masks and hand sanitiser, and limits on the number of people who can occupy each parking space, according to its size.

Ecofeminism: Equality and Equity in the Use and Design of Public Space

This year, the activities organised as a part of Park(ing) Day will revolve around ecofeminism, highlighting inequalities in the use of public space and suggesting ways to eliminate them. Specifically, the installations will address issues such as the need to incorporate an understanding of human relations into the way cities are built; the importance of incorporating the needs of women, people with functional diversity, people of colour, older people and children into the design of mobility and urban planning; and the importance of promoting the presence of these groups in decision-making about public space. The proposals and activities developed by Park(ing) Day participants underscore the need to create a city with no barriers in terms of urban furniture, mobility or layout.

To see the full programme of Park(ing) Day Barcelona, visit www.parkingdaybcn.org