On Friday, 15th September, Barcelona will host a new edition of Park(ing) Day Barcelona, an initiative jointly led by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) and the Espai Ambiental Cooperativa. This day has received funding from the Barcelona City Council and support from EIT Urban Mobility, an initiative of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the EU. The event aims to champion a healthier and more sustainable urban model, with diverse proposals from participating entities that will convert parking spaces into meeting points, gardens, and other innovative uses of public space.
“Like many other global cities, Barcelona is grappling with a significant challenge: pollution from motorised vehicular traffic and the subsequent degradation of public spaces and the environment,” notes Nahuel Osorio, a member of Espai Ambiental Cooperativa.
The initiative also seeks to highlight the impact of urban planning on human health and the urgency of taking measures to mitigate the consequences of pollution in cities. “Air pollution is the primary environmental factor with the greatest impact on human health, and in urban areas, the major contribution originates from motorised transport. At a local level, Barcelona ranks as the sixth European city with the highest mortality linked to air pollution. Consequently, there is an urgent need to rethink urban planning to safeguard the health of its residents,” points out Pamela Blanche, scientific communicator at ISGlobal.
This edition boasts the participation of 76 entities, occupying a total of 130 parking spaces, each transformed into installations of various types. These entities span various fields, including culture, the arts, social and solidarity economics, feminism, and urbanism, to name a few. They will present a diverse programme of activities, encompassing workshops, talks, intergenerational performances, and informative areas discussing urbanism, climate change, and health. A notable inclusion is Barcelona Libraries, which will provide reading spaces for both children and adults.
Climate Shelters: A Cooler Park(ing) Day
With climate shelters taking centre stage in this Park(ing) Day edition, activities are planned to raise awareness about extreme temperatures and to identify zones where individuals can seek respite from summer heat and winter cold. Due to climate change, summers are marked by increasingly high temperatures, which frequently surpass 35ºC-40ºC. Moreover, the “urban heat island” effect, partly caused by building materials and streets, exacerbates this situation in cities. Extreme heat led to 61,672 deaths in Europe in 2022, according to an ISGlobal study. Urban planning that favours walking or cycling over private motorised vehicles is crucial. Park(ing) Day aims to encourage citizens to reclaim public space, providing an opportunity for dialogue, debate, and visibility on socio-environmental issues such as climate shelters. Proposed activities include workshops explaining the urban heat island phenomenon, co-designing a thermal map of the environment, presenting urban initiatives, and opportunities to interact with heat measurement instruments.
This Park(ing) Day edition collaborates with EIT Urban Mobility, whose primary goal is to provide innovative solutions and expedite the transition towards a genuinely multimodal, integrated, and user-centric transportation system.
“Cities must be designed by and for citizens. A transformation of cities, designed around cars at the expense of vital space, fresh air, and quality of life, is necessary. Hence, EIT Urban Mobility is at the forefront of this transformation, offering cities tools, solutions, and the innovative ecosystem that enables change,” expresses María Paula Caycedo, Director of EIT Urban Mobility Innovation HUB South.
Throughout the day, each participating entity will animate its space with various activities. EIT Urban Mobility will organise a “batucada” (percussion ensemble) to celebrate this special day, inviting everyone in the community to join. An animated celebration where music and rhythm will take over the street, demonstrating how cities can become more friendly, sustainable, and innovative. The “batucada” will take place at 17:15h in the parklets of EIT Urban Mobility located at Plaza de la Sagrada Familia 11, Eixample.
The complete programme for Park(ing) Day Barcelona is available at www.parkingdaybcn.org
- 2 organising entities: ISGlobal and Espai Ambiental Cooperative
- 1 collaborating entity: EIT Urban Mobility
- Funded by the Barcelona City Council
- 76 participating entities
- 130 occupied parking spaces distributed across 9 districts of Barcelona