The empty spaces of La Llacuna

The empty spaces of La Llacuna

Given the existence of a series of empty premises in the municipality of La Llacuna, and with the desire to activate these resources, this project is proposed as a strategic document for municipal revitalization through temporarily activating these premises and other disused spaces; such as vacant lots or abandoned buildings. Specifically, we worked with the intention that the proposed temporary uses could become permanent.

The work process was structured around the following work axes: urban and territorial, social, economic, use, and legal. This multisectional approach made it possible to propose comprehensive reactivation strategies, so that, based on the network of spaces for collective use in the municipality, the “dormant” community capacities and opportunities of La Llacuna could be successfully activated.

Parallel to the analysis by axes, on the one hand, the cooperative carried out the mapping and inventory of empty premises and other disused spaces in La Llacuna. And on the other hand, the list of activities covered the needs detected in the municipality. In this way, it was possible to evaluate the best activation opportunities and in which locations it was convenient to test them.

The cooperative created numerous activities for the project, and they include: (1) the proposals to create affordable housing for people with economic difficulties; (2) the creation of an Environmental Resources Center that would incorporate both waste management and pedagogy on recycling and information on the natural spaces of the territory; (3) the qualification of areas for motorhomes; and (4) the promotion of a cultural festival linked to the history of La Llacuna or the facilitation of a progressive facility for young people.

The document proposes strategies to implement these activities in specific empty spaces of the municipality, considering their location, size, and state of conservation. It is not an executive or final project but rather a work tool for the political team and technicians of La Llacuna and its inhabitants. Based on the detailed files of each space analyzed and each proposed activity, and following recommendations and strategic criteria, the agents of the territory choose to launch the most convenient initiatives for everyone.


La Llacuna 

[917 inhabitants]



Type of project

Urban strategies


10 months [2021]


Provincial Deputation of


Municipality of La Llacuna



*estel (Arnau Boix i Pla,

Konstantina Chrysostomou,

Marc Deu Ferrer, Alba

Domínguez Ferrer)


Ara Muñío 

Enric Burgstaller

Pere Mogas

Raimon Soler

Mireia Peris



Technical and political team

from the City Council

Participatory Processes for Teenage and Youth Citizens of Barcelona

Participatory Processes for Teenage and Youth Citizens of Barcelona

The Participatory Process of the Adolescent Citizenship of Barcelona, during two consecutive academic years, offers teenagers and educational centers a project where they can approach the participatory culture of their municipality. They can express what worries or bothers them about the city and district where they live, and propose actions that, from their point of view, would improve coexistence.


The City Council supports this project in order to expand communication channels towards this group, through which they can listen, explain the actions that are already taking place in the city and that respond to some of their concerns, and receive first-hand the needs and proposals that this group considers, which are often forgotten in the planning of cities and neighborhoods.

Thus, a space is offered where adolescent citizens can exchange points of view and concerns about their city and the district where they live, finding common ground and stimulating teamwork to build a set of proposals that improve their experience as adolescents in Barcelona or the respective district.


This process has been carried out through high schools, combining face-to-face sessions in the schools themselves or municipal spaces, and online sessions that offered greater flexibility in attendance and participation.


As an added value, throughout the process, the technical and political team works to listen to the work done by the adolescents, providing them with feedback: informing them of existing initiatives or explaining why they would not be viable, as well as committing to making some of the proposals presented a reality.


Some of the results that have been achieved with this process, in its two editions, include improving communication between the City Council (both at the city and district level) and adolescent citizens, seeking the best channel through which to convey the improvements that they already promote, as well as informing participants of existing formal spaces (assemblies, etc.) in which they could already participate.


In this line, the way has also been opened for political and technical representatives of the district to be closer to the reality of secondary schools, thus improving the resolution of specific needs or collaborations.


Some improvements have also been proposed and executed in the city, such as the installation of sports practice elements in open courtyards that respond to the current needs of the participants, or the creation of a map of existing public sports facilities in the district, with the location and type of resources available.


In conclusion, the adolescent citizenship involved in the process, in both editions, valued the experience very positively, as it allowed them to make political figures a little more real and to understand first-hand how they could participate in the political and social life of their city and district.



[1,620,343 inhabitants]



Type of project

Citizen cooperation


1st edition (2020-2021)

2nd edition (curs 2021-2022)


Municipality of Barcelona,

Institut Municipal d’Educació

de Barcelona and Direcció de

Serveis de Democràcia Activa



*estel (Arnau Boix i Pla, Oriol

Serra Ureta, Roser García

Piqué, Konstantina

Chrysostomou, Alba

Dominguez Ferrer, Marc Deu i




Espai Coneix

Nadal Villena



Adolescent and teenage

citizens and educators linked

to the Escola Sant Felip Neri,

Escola Pia Nostra Senyora,

Escolàpies Llúria, Institut

XXVena Olimpíada, Escola

Joan Pelegrí, Escola Paideia,

Institut Les Corts, Institut

Santa Teresa de Lisieux,

Institut Menéndez i Pelayo,

Escola Pia Balmes, Institut

Gravi, Institut Vila de Gràcia,

Escola Vida Montserrat,

Escola Regina Carmeli,

Escola Especial Mare de Déu

de Montserrat, Escola Virolai,

Institut Escola Trinitat Nova,

Institut Escola El Til·ler,

Institut Príncep de Viana,

Escola Gavina, Escola FEDAC

Sant Andreu, Institut Infanta

Isabel d’Aragó i Institut Barri



Watch the presentation at




Read more about the project

at instagram and the


1 dog, 18 people, 26 trees, 1 water fountain, 7 trash cans

1 dog, 18 people, 26 trees, 1 water fountain, 7 trash cans

Currently, in the city of Barcelona, there are a total of 180,000 dogs registered with microchips, which is more than the population of children under 12 years old. This means that 25% of the city’s population lives with a dog. Incredible, isn’t it?

Studies show that young adults under 40 years old, the Millennials, have recently surpassed Boomers in dog adoption. In the United States, it is estimated that more than half of Millennials live with a dog. The rate of cohabitation with companion animals is even higher among people with university education and stable incomes, the same people who are more likely to delay marriage, having children, and homeownership beyond the established timelines of previous generations. But it’s not just that. Dogs can be much more: a way to root oneself in a new place, a roommate for people living alone, and they can play an important role in helping people’s mental health.

Taking care of a dog is one of those life-changing experiences. Or at least, it makes you see and live situations that you would have never experienced otherwise. Personally, it has increased my awareness of the micro-landscape of my neighborhood and how dogs interact with public spaces, and how I – as a dog companion – interact with public spaces.

A typical day with my dog would be:

  • 8:25 Getting Rock ready for a walk.
  • 8:28 Having a conversation with neighbors in the elevator about how excited Rock is to go out.
  • 8:30 We’re already out walking with Rock, sniffing all the trees along our route (26 trees, 1 water fountain, 7 trash cans).
  • 8:50 Buying bread from the bakery. Chatting with other dog owners in the neighborhood.
  • 8:55 On our way back home, stopping so that the kids waiting to enter school can greet Rock.
  • 9:00 Entering the house.
  • 18:55 Getting Rock ready for another walk.
  • 19:00 Walking with Rock in Montjuïc and chatting with other dog owners (93 trees, 4 water fountains, 41 trash cans, 1 shared-use area, 1 water space).
  • 20:00 Returning home. Talking to neighbors returning from work who greet Rock.

The interaction and connection with my neighbors and the environment where I live are understood differently. It’s no longer just about having a beautiful and pleasant landscape with seating areas, but also about having waste bins, rubbish cans, and water fountains. And since I walk in the evening, it’s important for the space to be well-lit and for me to feel safe. It’s another way of perceiving the urban space and the role of a dog in this ecosystem.

Let me quickly explain the four significant things my dog has taught me about my neighborhood and its people:


The dog as a triangulator

Although the topic of dogs can be quite contentious among people who feel comfortable with them and those who don’t, I increasingly see dogs as great triangulators in public spaces.

But first, what does triangulation mean? 

Triangulation can be defined as “the characteristic of a public space that can bring together strangers. Usually, it is an external stimulus of some kind.”

A bus stop can be an element of triangulation. A person playing music on the street can be, too. It could be any element that makes two unknown people pause for a second and talk. That being said, a dog is a great triangulator.

While walking my dog, I have met and interacted with more neighbors in my neighborhood than in the past five years I have lived there. The dog makes people lower their guard, slows down their pace, and encourages greetings, conversations, and smiles. The last time I experienced this kind of “unforced” interaction, naturally, was when I bought a bouquet of flowers. Just as the bouquet of flowers made my neighbors talk to me about the flowers, smile, or greet me, the same thing is happening now with my dog.


Dog recreation areas as spaces for socialization

When you walk a dog, you automatically become part of an informal club of “people who care for a dog.” If you don’t have a dog, it’s not as easy to enter this group since the conversation typically revolves around your dog, other dogs, and the weather.

Dog recreation areas, then, are the spaces where these strangers meet and talk. Dog caregivers need these spaces—a safe environment where their dogs can exercise regularly and safely because dogs enjoy walking, running, and socializing with other dogs. It is a vital part of a dog’s life when living in an apartment in Barcelona.

What many associations working to improve the quality of life for dogs, their caregivers, and other citizens, especially in urban environments, are requesting is a reconsideration of the model for dog recreation areas. They aim to move towards a less segregated model, taking into account that dog-owning families may also have children who want to play at the same time. That’s why it is necessary to move towards a model that accommodates different groups in shared-use spaces that adapt to the daily needs of each family.

Moreover, not all dogs feel comfortable in these areas. Speaking with a dog trainer, she mentioned that dog recreation areas are suitable for dogs up to 4-5 years old and typically attract a large number of dogs. Older dogs can feel anxious in these environments, much like how we would feel if we were sent to relax inside a ball pit in a children’s playground. So where do these dogs that don’t enjoy dog recreation areas go?

It’s important to explore alternative options that cater to the diverse needs of dogs, including quieter spaces or alternative socialization opportunities, to ensure the well-being of all dogs in urban settings.


Dog Routes

Each neighborhood has an invisible and informal network of dog routes designed for walking dogs, which helps people get out of the house and engage in daily exercise, promoting their mental and physical health. These routes are typically circular, within a 20-minute distance from home, and are chosen for their specific characteristics. A good dog route is pleasant and includes a water fountain, many rubbish bins, permeable spaces and/or green areas, good lighting at night, wide side walks, good visibility, and “dog-friendly” local businesses. Dog routes may vary between winter and summer, as people seek the sun during summer and shade during winter. Canine routes are fully integrated into the 15-minute city model, adding the layer of carrying out daily tasks accompanied by a dog.

The 15-minute city model aims to create more liveable, sustainable, and resilient cities, ensuring that people have access to essential services and amenities within a 15-minute walk or bike ride from their homes. Dogs can play a vital role in supporting this model, as they encourage people to walk more and spend more time outdoors, promoting a healthier and more active lifestyle.

People who walk their dogs often take their animals out multiple times a day, providing them with the opportunity to explore their local neighborhoods, interact with other people and dogs, and discover new parks and green spaces. As a result, dogs can help people discover and connect with their communities, fostering a sense of belonging and improving social cohesion. Furthermore, dogs can help increase the visibility and use of public spaces within the 15-minute city model, such as dog-friendly parks and cafés. 

Dogs can also be a tool to promote sustainable transportation, such as walking and cycling, which can help reduce traffic congestion, air pollution, and carbon emissions. This can contribute to a more sustainable and resilient city that is better equipped to address the challenges of climate change.

Overall, dogs can play a crucial role in supporting the 15-minute city model by fostering active lifestyles, reinforcing social connections, increasing the use of public spaces, and promoting sustainable transportation through dog routes.

But what should these spaces be like to ensure quality and improve coexistence?


Design, Maintenance, and Community Involvement

Dog routes, dog parks, and shared-use areas (SUA) must meet certain basic criteria.

Regarding the daily dog routes, they should be safe, accessible, with plenty of trees and permeable surfaces, and equipped with public amenities to ensure the well-being of dogs, the people who walk them, and the community as a whole. In terms of design criteria for daily routes, they should include:

  • Benches and/or permeable surfaces (not rubberized)
  • Accessible water sources for dogs of all heights
  • Rubbish bins and bag dispensers
  • Good nighttime lighting
  • Wide side walks for walking the dog and stopping to socialize
  • Minimal car traffic speed
  • Good visibility
  • Ground-floor facades with activity and “dog-friendly” businesses such as bakeries, fruit shops, etc.

Words of:

Konstantina Chrysostomou

Publication date:


Originally written in:



Everyday life / Public space

As for dog parks and shared-use areas (SUA), location is crucial, taking into account accessibility and the natural landscape. The space doesn’t have to be a perfect rectangle. The park design can be a great opportunity to involve users and the local community from the beginning, reflecting on the transformation of a previously underutilized or abandoned area into a wonderful space for socialization and play.

A design process like this can anticipate future coexistence issues by inviting the local community and the administration to reflect on the management and maintenance of the space and the routes leading to this area.

Regarding the dog area, it should have:

  • Good drainage to avoid muddy situations
  • Water source to keep the dogs refreshed
  • Shade to create a pleasant space for people and prevent overheating during summer
  • Access for people with reduced mobility
  • High fencing around to prevent dogs from jumping over
  • Benches around trees for people to stay longer and relax. The benches should be far from the entrances and exits so that dogs do not concentrate in that area, intimidating other dogs trying to enter.
  • Signage indicating the rules for using the space at the entrance and exit
  • Double-gated entrance to have space to unleash the dog before entering the area. The gates should follow accessibility criteria for people with reduced mobility.
  • Waste stations and trash bins placed in different areas of the space to keep it clean.
  • Lighting to increase the perception of safety and visibility in the space, extending its use, especially during autumn and winter.
  • Safe plants for dogs. For example, trees are an essential part of dog space design. They provide shade, which dogs and people need to avoid overheating. It is also essential to choose plants that are safe for animals. Sago palms are the most common plant that is harmful to dogs. The symptoms that dogs can experience from consuming sago palms can cause liver damage and even death. Tulips, aloe, and daisies are also among the most harmful plants for dogs.
  • Surfacing materials other than natural grass, as it is not a sustainable option in a Mediterranean city and can become a damp and muddy space when it rains.
  • Buffer zone between dog areas and nearby buildings to reduce noise impact.

When it comes to furniture, it’s important to observe the behavior of dogs outdoors and try to incorporate elements that help them socialize and exercise. For example:

  • Jumps of various sizes to help dogs with strength and coordination.
  • Platforms at different heights to encourage coordination and concentration.
  • Tunnels to familiarize them with navigation.
  • Bridges to help them develop control, patience, and concentration.

Regarding maintenance criteria, it’s important to consider that while dogs can be messy, they are not the sole factor that can degrade a space. Exposure to elements such as rain, sun, and vandalism throughout the year can damage the space and furniture. For this reason, it’s important to use durable materials and outdoor furniture so that the community can enjoy it for many years.

The municipality can take responsibility for the annual maintenance of the space. However, it’s a good opportunity for the local community to participate in cleaning activities throughout the year to promote civic education and foster a sense of ownership of the space. Group activities such as gatherings, workshops, courses, seminars, and group walks can be organized in this space to facilitate coexistence and raise public awareness.

Finally, it’s important for the local community, together with the municipality, to develop a participatory regulation for the use of the space, including rules that can be applied to both dog areas and nearby routes.


The feeling of responsibility: caring for your dog and your community.

Lastly, having a dog in a city can bring numerous benefits both to the dog’s family and to the community as a whole. Firstly, dogs can offer companionship, emotional support, and a sense of responsibility to their families, which can have a positive impact on their mental health and overall well-being.

Moreover, taking a dog for a walk in a public space can promote physical activity and help reduce stress and anxiety. Dogs have an incredible way of bringing people together, helping to foster a sense of community among those who share the same neighborhood.

In terms of safety, considering that dog walks are often done during times when most people are already at home, it can serve as a deterrent to crime and provide a sense of security, especially in areas that might otherwise be perceived as dangerous or unsafe.

Dogs can also serve as ambassadors for responsible pet ownership, as their behavior and actions can help promote positive attitudes towards dogs and their families. This can lead to increased awareness and respect for dogs in public spaces, ultimately fostering better relationships between dogs and the community. Overall, having dogs in public spaces can bring many benefits to the community and dog families, making it a positive addition to urban life.


* References

Children’s Participatory Budget of Sant Cugat

Children's Participatory Budget of Sant Cugat

Participatory budget is a tool that allows citizens to influence a percentage of the money that the administration allocates each year to investments. Typically, only adults participate, forgetting that a significant percentage of the population, young people and children, are left out.

In this project, a working proposal is created for girls, boys, and youngsters up to 16 years old to decide on how to invest a total of 200,000 euros made available by the city council. Through sessions in the Children’s Council and the Youth Council, actions in schools, and prioritization votes, improvement proposals are co-designed and technically validated by the Estel team and the city council staff involved in the project.

Some of the ideas that have been developed and executed include installing water fountains in the streets and play areas, making areas accessible for outdoor sports, building a vegetated maze for playing, equipping a space for parkour, or adding “facing” benches that encourage social interactions in public spaces. It is worth noting that beyond the functions of these elements, the interventions also have a pedagogical component for children, young people, and the rest of the population, who can see to what extent the smallest members of society are capable of making decisions that affect the entire population.


Sant Cugat del Vallès 

[95.725 inhabitants]



Type of project

Citizen cooperation


5 months [2022]


Municipality of Sant Cugat del




*estel (Marc Deu Ferrer, Oriol

Serra Ureta, Roser García

Piqué, Konstantina

Chrysostomou, Alba

Domínguez Ferrer, Arnau Boix

i Pla)



Consell d’Infants de Sant

Cugat del Vallès and Consell

Jove de Sant Cugat del Vallès


Read more about the project

at the plataform


Benifairó de la Valldigna’s Urban and Sustainable Mobility Plan

Benifairó de la Valldigna’s Urban and Sustainable Mobility Plan

Benifairó de la Valldigna, like the rest of the neighboring towns and cities, has experienced in recent decades an evolutionary process of its mobility based on unsustainable parameters over time.

Often the high presence of private vehicles means that many of the other activities that take place in the street are relegated to the background, either because of the difficulty or danger of developing them simultaneously, or directly because of the lack of space.

It is in this context that this study is being developed, which aims to reverse these dynamics and establish a viable action plan adjusted to the needs that will make it possible and improve the quality of public space. To do this, a complete diagnosis of the current reality has been carried out, which contemplates both the analysis of the capacities and the intensities of use of the road network with different modes of transport, as well as the coexistence of these journeys with the other activities that take place on public roads, linked to the development of the daily life of its inhabitants.


Benifairó de la Valldigna

[1.542 inhabitants]



Type of project

Urban Strategies


8 months [2020-2021]


Municipality of Benifairó

de la Valldigna



*estel (Marc Deu Ferrer,

Arnau Boix i Pla, Konstantina

Chrysostomou, Alba

Domínguez Ferrer)

Pau Avellaneda



Neighbors of Benifairó

de la Valldigna