IED BARCELONA AND THE RACC EXPLORE VISUAL COMMUNICATION DESIGN TRENDS TOWARDS THE URBAN EVOLUTION OF SMART CITIES
The way in which major cities will be reinvented, the actors that will participate in this transformation, and how inhabitants will experience this change are key issues up for discussion today. They were also the starting point for an investigation carried out by Visual Communication students from IED Barcelona Design School, in collaboration with the Mobility Department of the Royal Automobile Club of Catalonia (RACC).
Direct and simple visual strategies, slogans that invite action, technological applications that can be integrated into urban spaces and graphic and signage systems that enable mobility to be organised are some of the proposals that emerged as a result of this collaboration.
Within the framework of developing their final degree projects, taking the city of Barcelona as a case study, students from the Graphic Design and Motion Graphics and Video courses accepted the challenge set by the RACC Foundation to analyse public space, detect problems and needs, and propose solutions to improve big cities.
Over the course of several months, students originating from over 10 different countries worked to develop proposals that succeed in bringing together urban planning, visual communication and mobility, by way of an analytical approach. It provided an opportunity to understand to what extent good visual communication can contribute to urban development, especially now, in the aftermath of the pandemic, which has forced us to rethink all kinds of spaces, services, mobility and means of citizen interaction.
NEW TECHNOLOGIES: Illuminating pavements
In some projects, the importance of new technologies as tools to improve peoples’ experiences in public spaces was highlighted: augmented reality, lighting, 5G, etc. This was the case with ‘Estrelles del futur’ [Stars of the Future] by Pau Millán, who proposes including lighting in urban pavements through a smart traffic light system to inform citizens about congestion in the streets.
VISUAL CLARITY: How to solve information overload
The population in big cities is increasing at a dizzying pace, and its spaces are saturated with information. It is important to create systems that enable citizens to clearly and easily understand indications, rules and restrictions. In order to achieve this, the visual system proposed must facilitate reading and understanding, providing lightness, clarity and a sense of calm. This is the visual premise of ‘Creixem’ [Let’s Grow], a project by Gaia Pantalone and Eleanor Berney, which makes a direct call for citizen participation in the process of constructing the city.
EXPERIMENTATION LABS: Reclaiming traditional spaces and giving them new uses
As with any design project, people are placed at the centre. Talking about urban spaces, the role of the streets as a stage for the relationships among them, and with the environment, is fundamental. For this reason, ‘N->EIX’ (a play on words between “born” and “axis” in Catalan) proposes to divide the urban planning of the city into different zones (axes), prioritising interaction among citizens and, at the same time, generating pollution-free spaces. With this in mind, students Kenzy Abed and Johanna Mauch propose a graphic visualisation of urban planning, highlighting these new zones and incorporating different types of signage.
BY AND FOR ALL: Co-creation actions to appeal to civic responsibility
‘Espai per tothom’ [Space for All] is the proposal of Juan Hands and Kamila Zakhidova that envisages the creation of urban spaces based on the needs of the people that inhabit them. More sustainable and egalitarian environments where citizens form part of the urban transformation, and that facilitate the coexistence of pedestrians and vehicles, as well as day-to-day business activity . To this end, they have designed a blueprint of inclusive pictograms, taking into account all the users that interact in these surroundings, and placing them at the centre of this visual communication proposal.
COLOUR: Organising information using colour spectrums
Colour as a response to clear and organised communication, which establishes a tone of voice adapted to residents. This is the ‘Urban Fauna’ proposal by Tina Saver and Panna Garai, in which graphic information is organised in different colours according to the target audience: pedestrians, children, micromobility and motorised vehicles. A project developed on the basis of interviews with residents of the Sant Antoni neighbourhood in Barcelona.