Barcelona tests three new prototypes to enlarge and improve housing

Barcelona is testing three industrialised construction prototypes on a site at the UPC Campus Diagonal-Besòs. The projects should add more space and increase the comfort and energy efficiency of city buildings, improving the urban environment too. These are the three winning projects from the challenge launched in 2022 by the Fundació BIT Habitat and the Municipal Institute of Urban Planning to find innovative solutions for renovating blocks of flats.

02/07/2024 13:16 h

Ecologia Urbana

Anybody strolling near this plot of land, actually located in the municipality of Sant Adrià de Besòs, will see three giant modules that look like building façades, but without the homes that should be with them. These are the ALIGRA, Regenerar Barcelona and InnoFAB prototypes, the winners of the challenge, designed to adapt to existing blocks of flats. Made of wood and metal, the structures add a new façade to buildings to provide extra space (balconies, new rooms and communal areas), or to improve insulation and the impact of the sun. Structures are also planned for terraces to house solar panelling, green rooftops or the collection and reuse of rainwater.

Through these prototypes, made simply, quickly and economically using industrialised construction, improvements can be achieved in the comfort, living conditions and sustainability of current buildings, reducing CO₂ emissions and energy consumption at the same time.

Renovating buildings quickly

These industrialised systems can be manufactured in parts in workshops and then assembled directly on buildings, halving the renovation time of traditional systems. Depending on the scale of the project, the time needed could be between 6 and 9 months for a whole bock of flats, instead of 12 to 18 months for a conventional project, with the reduction in inconvenience that this would bring. The reduction in costs would also allow a large volume of homes to be renovated quickly.

The three prototypes will now be monitored for 12 months on a site at the Campus Diagonal-Besòs of the Polytechnic University Of Catalonia (UPC), in Sant Adrià de Besòs, to assess their impact in terms of comfort, urban resilience, energy efficiency, circular economy and biodiversity. This will be possible thanks to the installation of a smart sensor system to provide an ongoing analysis of various parameters.

The call for this challenge involved an investment of over 410,000 euros to provide financial support for the projects now being tested.

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