Universitat Internacional de Catalunya

Designing Healthy Public Spaces

Designing Healthy Public Spaces
Second semester
ESARQ Module
ESARQ Options
Main language of instruction: Spanish

Other languages of instruction: Catalan, English,

Teaching staff


In the current situation of environmental and health crisis, the contribution in the design of public space of the architect is extremely necessary. Administrations ask for urban and  architectural projects that integrate urban comfort and citizen well-being and environmental ustainability into a single entity. In this landscape of increasing complexity, it is appropriate to train degree students in useful subjects and techniques from other disciplines such as landscaping, ecology or bioengineering. This multidimensional learning will complement their traditional training and expand their professional capacity to act in all scales, from the landscape of our peripheries, rivers and coasts to consolidated urban and neighborhood areas. The course will teach the great potential of public space to create and/or transform our environments into more livable, healthy and sustainable places.


Pre-course requirements

The course is mainly oriented to students who have already taken some urban planning subjects and architectural projects. Recommended for 3rd year students or higher.


Students will be provided with a conceptual framework and specific tools through the complementarity between directed practice and a contrasted theoretical body to face the public space project considering the sustainability of people’s health environment.

The main goals are:

- Introduce basic concepts and parameters from other disciplines, necessary for the current design of public space.

- Provide bibliography and reference cases that allow building a database on this type of project. Especially important will be the visits to redevelopment actions in Barcelona to discuss strategies and solutions on site.

- Practice the formulation of project ideas based on the interaction of scales and incorporating tools and methods arising from graphic exploration.

- Introduce the students to the existing urbanization products on the market: paving, urban furniture and lighting to discuss criteria and forms of use.

- Prepare the student for collective work and the construction of group documents that lead to a unique project.

- Provide concrete and complementary knowledge that the student can apply in the Projects subjects, especially for 4th year and TFG. The subject will serve as a basis for the development of the Urbanism 4 subject in the 5th year


  • 03 - To acquire adequate knowledge of spatial representation systems applied to architecture and urbanism .
  • 05 - To acquire adequate knowlege of metric and projective geometry applied to architecture and urbanism.
  • 06 - To acquire adequate knowledge of graphic surveying techniques in all stages, from sketching to scientific restitution.
  • 34-T - Ability to design, practice and develop basic and execution projects, sketches and blueprints.
  • 39-T - Ability to eliminate architectural barriers
  • 51 - To acquire adequate knowledge of the study methods of social needs, quality of life, habitability and basic housing programmes
  • 52 - To acquire adequate knowlege of the environment, sustainability and the principles of conserving energy and environmental resources.
  • 65 - Ability to recognise contemporary characteristics and freedom in the understanding of architecture.
  • 69 - Ability to discover the critical-cultural dimension of the role of the architect

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student will be able to:

 - Evaluate with critical judgment the multidimensional character that must guide the design of healthy public space and recognize it in recent practices.

 - Interpret the information on health and the environment provided by other disciplines and apply them in the formalization of public space.

 - Design and propose strategies in a multidisciplinary team.


 The course is organized around five main themes:

 -        Topography, water and paving

-        Green as infrastructure and sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDS)

-        Light: natural and artificial lighting in public spaces

-        Urban equipment, playable and intergenerational

-        Communication and representation of public space

In the first five classes, theoretical content will be taught during the first 45 minutes and then the practical workshop will be developed following the topic presented. One session will be devoted to visiting some representative public spaces in Barcelona. Between weeks 6 and 10, the work focuses on the holistic development of the design proposal for a specific public space in Barcelona. The work will be developed in groups of 2 students.

Teaching and learning activities

In person

The methodology used is Inquiry-Based Learning (IBL), a cyclical and progressive model built on the premise that involving students in the search for their own knowledge is the best way to generate understanding. Both in the theoretical part and in practice, the student will work on the discussion of ideas and arguments that will lead him to a synthesis that he will have to communicate expressively in the graphic presentation. The aim is to train the student in making coherent decisions in a short time and communicating them clearly and concisely.

The essential outcome of the learning process will be a proposal that will be presented in an A1 panel, which will collect research on the new health and well-being criteria applied creatively to the design of public space.