Project: Vertal | Design

Project: Vertal


In the current context, there is no human activity that does not need to be rethought. Mobility and social relations when undertaking travel and journeys are key issues of concern in the medium term, in particular with regard to ensuring the safety of all users. As a leading institution in design education, IED Barcelona Design School has set in motion and is spearheading research into new formats and designs for urban mobility, applied to public transport. 

IED Barcelona understands that now is the right time to construct the new post-pandemic reality. Thus, it entrusted students from the Undergraduate Degree in Product Design, specialisation in Transportation, and the Undergraduate Degree in Interior Design, with the challenge of designing and developing the interior space of an overland, public and urban means of transport for the city of Barcelona, in a bid to present a safe experience for users. 

The results were three projects – Panettone, BCNTram 2025 and Contact – which include important advances in innovation and the design of systems and services. Proposals included trams with spaces for bubble groups, with the aim of preventing the spread of the pandemic; modular vehicles with exclusive carriages for people with functional diversity; and interiors that connect people with the environment to which they belong.

“Imagining new urban mobility scenarios, maintaining the safety of passengers as individuals or as ‘bubble’ groups (friends, families, work teams), and enhancing travellers’ experience over a short distance is a priority, now, more than ever,” assures Raffaella Perrone, IED Barcelona’s Design School Managing Director. 

“The pandemic has revealed the need to rethink every type of interior space, whether it’s a home or the interior of a tram,” she continues. “In the 1950s, the Architect and Designer Ernesto Rogers declared that he wanted to design everything, ‘from a spoon to a city’, and at IED Barcelona, we continue to follow this path. Now is the time to think about spaces, individuals and means of transportation, bringing together different perspectives and enriching ideas with multidisciplinary contributions,” adds Perrone. 

Within the context of this project, the students opted to rethink public transportation, taking into account a series of requirements. First and foremost, it should solve a current problem and contribute to reinventing the post-pandemic society; transport should also be for journeys within urban limitations and of a collective, not private, nature; equipped with electric propulsion and semi-autonomous driving technology, with the presence of a driver; and, in all cases, with space for all types of individual mobility elements, such as bicycles, wheelchairs and scooters. In addition to the above, students had to bear in mind that the designs would have to be ready for implementation by 2025. 

Panettone, the bubble tram

Developed by Ludovica Finollo and Nerea Ortega from the Undergraduate Degree in Interior Design, Panettone proposes to distribute users into groups in order to maintain the social bubbles defined to prevent the spread of COVID. Through the use of specific semiotic signs on the access doors, the system separates these groups according to immune systems, from weakest to strongest: senior citizens, young people  and families.

Further, in a bid to avoid contact among passengers, the entire tram is automatic and includes an interior and exterior space in each carriage to ensure continuous ventilation. 

The design is inspired by futuristic objectives and abstract geometries, using sustainable materials, such as recycled plastic for the structure and recycled textile fibres for the seat cushions. 

BCN-Tram, isolation carriages 

Pep Gelis and Parth Deshmukh, students from the Undergraduate Degree in Product Design, specialisation in Transportation, conceived the idea of the BCN-Tram taking into account the social distancing measures recommended by the authorities, deploying a modular carriage layout. This tram concept provides users with three different carriage modules: the social distancing module; the urban mobility module, adapted to the needs of people with functional diversity; and the social/friendly module for groups. 

The isolation carriage ensures greater control with relation to at-risk users and their contact with other people, thanks to a modular furniture system that divides the surface into four large areas. The carriages for people with functional diversity have a spacious interior, with capacity for fewer people, in order to facilitate and guarantee space for all users.

Finally, the shared-use carriages include benches that maintain the appropriate safe distance and a central pillar containing hydroalcoholic gel. They also have a turbine system that regenerates the air and include an interior UV light system that, when activated, eliminates bacteria and viruses present in the carriage. 

Contact, reconnecting our environment

Generally speaking, public transport disconnects people and breaks human contact. Using this idea as a starting point, María Borrell and Anna de Faria, the creators of Contact and students of the Undergraduate Degree in Interior Design, believed in a concept for a tram that would unite people more than ever, reconnecting them both with other users and their surroundings. 

To do this, both designers were inspired by the symbolism of the genetic structure of DNA to create an interior evoking an informal space that is comfortable for all users. The colours, materials and lighting conceived create a fusion among comfort, connection with nature, and the exterior environment of the city of Barcelona.