Barcelona’s current search for a new urban model echoes a similar process that took place 160 years ago and led to the creation of Cerdà’s Eixample. This is the main thesis of a new comic published by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), a centre supported by the ”la Caixa” Foundation, titled Redrawing Barcelona and subtitled From Cerdà to the Superblocks: The Quest for a New Urban Model.
Redrawing Barcelona tells the story of Clàudia, a young woman with two small children, who learns about the health effects of certain environmental exposures and is ultimately inspired to become an activist for a new urban model.
“It is a work of fiction based on scientific evidence and current circumstances,” explained Pau Rubio, Communications Coordinator at ISGlobal and author of the text. “That’s why it includes appearances by real people, such as ISGlobal researchers Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, Maria Foraster and Jordi Sunyer, who bring rigour to the story. Apart from them, the story could be about any family involved in the various movements that are calling for a healthier and more sustainable urban model.”
“This project grew out of the idea that Barcelona is currently experiencing déjà vu: it is hemmed in by physical barriers that prevent it from continuing to expand, and it is still governed by a model that is harmful to the health of its inhabitants, just as it was in the 19th century,” added Rubio.
Redrawing Barcelona tackles issues such as the health-related consequences of air pollution, noise ands edentary lifestyles, as well as the repercussions of urban and mobility planning. Set against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, the 64-page comic traces the origins of the Cerdà Plan and highlights the social movements calling for a less car-centric city.
Thanks to its digital format, the comic includes additional resources such as videos, interactive graphics and links to websites with further information.
“The main challenge of this project was striking a balance between scientific rigour and an entertaining comic format, with the aim of reaching as many people as possible,” commented Andrea Lucio, the illustrator of the comic.
Redrawing Barcelona is initially being published as a free webcomic in three languages: Spanish, Catalan and English. It's available to read and download free of charge at redrawingbarcelona.isglobal.org.
Later, the comic will also be available for download from the EduCaixa educational portal.
About the authors
Andrea Lucio is a professional illustrator with a PhD in Fine Arts from the University of Barcelona. She is the author of the graphic novels Iaioflautas,Un regalo para Kushbu, Homenaje a Cataluña and Arde Madrid. As a freelancer, she has collaborated with publications such as New Internationalist, The Hindu, Surreal Comics, Pikara Magazine, Dossier Crític and La Directa.
Pau Rubio is a journalist. He has collaborated with media outlets such as Información, Diario de Mallorca, El Mundo and Panenka. He is the author of the books Coses que feia el meu avi and La longitud del olvido. He joined ISGlobal in 2011 and currently holds the position of Communications Coordinator.