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Walking the City:

Social interactions in learning through the urban environment.

Inés Aquilué, Renata Gomes & Estanislao Roca / / Departament d’Urbanisme i Ordenació del Territori / Av. Diagonal, 649, 4th floor / ETSAB-UPC

Introduction Walking the City began as a teaching experience which aimed to develop new ways to understand the city and the urban space by means of itineraries led by people who form part of the city itself. This is a sincere view of the urbanism and architecture of Barcelona which goes beyond the physical limits of the classroom in order to understand the city through the built environment and the physical and social interactions which take place there. The object of study is the social system as much as the physical systems of the city of Barcelona. The city is perceived through critical eyes, dynamic explanations and on-site debates in order to discover the added value of urban environments that usually remain hidden.

Innovation_1: Itineraries The first innovative methodological base of Walking the City is the use of itineraries that form the essence of this teaching project. The itineraries connect place with knowledge. Each itinerary has its own specific content extensively presented by an expert, who relates it with the area being visited at that moment. In fact, the student receives new input from various channels. On one hand from the guest, who shares specific knowledge with them, on the other hand from all communicative channels that come from the sensory inputs offered by the space and the social environment. Students focus on itineraries as objects of study. Indeed, they gain new knowledge from both the contents of the lecture and from their direct perception of place. Furthermore this initiative encourages relationships between university and various social agents, be they public administration, academic world, architects, members of different collectives or from the local community. In this way, students see how the city evolves not just through architects and urbanists but through a far more complex reality.


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Innovation_2: Graphic recording


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MontjuÏc Ciutat Vella

Eixample Gràcia Les Glòries Vil·la Olímpica 22@ La Sagrera Nou Barris

During the itineraries, students use all their senses to observe the city. Students acquire in situ knowledge and also begin a process of reflection and registration through the discovery of various graphic techniques. Information learned is transformed into drawings, paintings or images, making the student’s work an expression of feelings, urban experiences and interdisciplinary knowledge. Each student has his or her own language. We are not only referring to speech, which so influences their way of seeing and understanding the world, but also the graphic language that for students is part of their learning, their culture, and their experiences. In a similar way to the nuances of oral language, nuances exist in graphic language.

Innovation_3: ICT All the agents who participate in Walking the City are connected through a number of communication channels. The course has its own e-mail which is used to communicate directly with both students and invited experts. We also have a website on which we publish both the course activities and the student’s coursework. The website becomes an interactive meeting point for students, experts and professors. Knowledge is transferred transversally between all participants so that each enriches the knowledge of the others. Innovation in Walking the City also lies in the use of advanced technologies. Therefore, digital sharing platforms are used between members of the university community, a blog and more recently, the website, where students can post their work and comments. In this way an interactive and fluid relationship between teachers and students is achieved. Another innovative tool is that of filming a video in which students reflect on aspects considered to be most relevant and representative to the field of study, and through this medium they point out their view of the city. The transfer of knowledge and experience, year after year, is creating a rich background that serves to constantly improve the content and continually reinvent Walking the City project.

1st HEIRRI Conference Teaching Responsible Research and Innovation at University CosmoCaixa Science Museum, Barcelona, Spain Friday 18th March, 2016

Walking the city, social interactions in learning through the urban environment  
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