O B S C U R I T Y - Barcelona Blind Tourism

Blind tourism

With special thanks to my parents,
Isabel de Faria &
Paschalis Papachristopoulos
and my friend, Hadi Hissi
& to my teachers,
Soulafa Soubra
Oriol Carrasco
Irma Arribas
Tomoko Sakamoto
Roman Bianco




Sense of space
The blind



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Urban green areas
Fauna and flora
The sea


Source of inspiration
Space from a blind perspective







Project concept
Design body language
Psychology of colours
Shape experimentation
Textures and materials
Sociological importance

Sensorial journey in Barcelona
The visible and invisible
The city
Urban features
Scents of a city
Mobility and noise pollution
Barcelona Catalan identity


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Location plam
Location plan & intervention
Conceptual & narrative plan
User Experience
Light installation
Circulation plan
Technical section
Exploded axonometry
Outside experience
Inside experience


Construction details
Intervention plan & measurements









¨ The world around us is constantly shifting. From one day to another, unexpected events can
result in a new controlled lifestyle. From being free to touch, hear, see, smell and taste everything
that surrounds us, we were confronted, due to Covid-19, with a new reality, where we had to face
limitations to our freedom of movement, to the way we relate to the environment and to other
people. These challenges had a major impact on myself and, I believe, in many people around the
world. With limited access to places and in social interactions, the thought of tourism suddenly
vanished. For others, this idea was already a reality.¨




Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 3

¨New tourism...new scenarios for a
sustainable future¨

Figure 4




Tourism is a concept established by humans. Starting

impaired people may face, it is almost unimaginable for

first as a luxury leisure activity in the 17th century ,

them to dive completely into a new cultural experience

it became accessible to almost everyone. Tourism

when traveling. Blindness represents complete darkness

is now a constant mass movement of people, traveling

and the loss of sight, generating an even greater challenge

with diverse motivations and expectations. As it grew to

for the experience of tourism. In 2020, this conflict was

be more approachable, it became one of the world’s most

made worse by the Covid 19 pandemic, with a stronger

important social activities and a major economic driver

sense of human absence and separation, creating a

for many countries. Today, traveling isn’t only associated

challenge on how senses can be used everyday. Globally,

with history, art and culture, but may also include other

285 million of people were visually impaired in 20102

fields such as sports, health, relaxation, amusement

and 1 billion experienced a near or distance vision

and entertainment. As it developed into such different

impairment in 20203. The tourism industry, in order to

directions, each journey has very specific requirements

be sustainable, should take into account the current and

for the individual experiencing it. Furthermore, it involves

future economic, social and environmental impacts of

a great amount of organization. From mobility and

its activities, thus considering the needs of the visitors,

accommodation to activities and safety, requirements are

the environment and the host communities (WTO)4.

different and personal to each visitor. As a result, big cities

People with disabilities do travel and are likely to travel

have created a reliable and systematic organizational

with others. They are therefore an important segment

system for welcoming visitors. However, these more

and a potential economic driver for the tourism market,

complex trends in tourism have involuntarily engender

with spending power and potential to increase, as each

exclusions and challenges for people with disability.

traveler with a disability may encourage the participation

There are barriers they have to face in their experience

and influence the purchasing decision of people with

of exploration and this can develop boundaries between

a similar condition. According to a Study (Amadeus

different communities. The envisaged scenarios do not

Accessibility Study, 20175), these travelers represent a $70


always take into account accessibility for disabled people.
An important part of the tourism concepts is based on

Global data on visual impairment. (2017, December 08). Retrieved February 03, 2021, from https://www.who.int/
Vision impairment and blindness. (2020, October
8). Retrieved February 03, 2021, from https://www.who.int/
World tourism organization. (n.d.). Retrieved
February 07, 2021, from https://www.unwto.org/sustainable-development
World tourism organization. (n.d.). Retrieved February
07, 2021, from https://www.unwto.org/accessibility

the idea of visual experiences: museums, galleries,
monuments, landscapes, architecture and visual cultural
features. Considering the daily challenges that visual

K. Walton, J. (2020, November 10). Tourism.
Retrieved January 31, 2021, from https://www.britannica.com/


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billion market, only in Europe and the USA. These figures

also design key criteria that make inclusive tourism be

show the importance of this segment of population,

part of the Global Sustainable Tourism Agenda8. The

and should encourage the tourism industry, to invest

World Health Organization has identified 15% of the

time, efforts and resources to create a more accessible

world population as having some form of disability

and inclusive framework for travelers with disabilities.

and considers that sustainable development can only

“Tourism for All” is a concept that targets this growing

be achieved through an inclusive approach to creating

segment of population, with a diverse range of needs and

solutions and opportunities (WHO, World Report on

requirements. The tourism industry, to be inclusive, will

Disability, 2011). Having in mind the 2030 Agenda, the

have to consider different perspectives, providing design

need to achieve disability- inclusive development is also

solutions and services in order to offer them a wide

recognized by the UN in its “Disability and Development

range of positive travel experiences. In order to achieve

Report: Realizing the Sustainable Development Goals by,

this, a key concept to be implemented by the tourism

for and with persons with disabilities” (2018)9.


industry and tourism destinations, is Universal Design7,
defined as the design of an environment so that it can

Barcelona, being one of the most visited and multicultural

be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent

cities in Europe10 has the potential to push further it’s

possible by all people, regardless of their age, size, ability

efforts to increase opportunities and inclusive experiences

or disability. The underlying idea is that any environment

for visitors.

(or any building, product, or service in that environment)
should be designed to meet the needs of all people who
wish to use it. This issue should not be considered as a
special requirement, for the benefit of a minority. If an
environment is accessible, usable, convenient and a
pleasure to use, everyone benefits. It is therefore clear that,
to remain competitive, tourism business and destinations
should invest in universal design and inclusive solutions.
Beyond economic considerations, however, there are

World tourism organization. (n.d.). Retrieved
February 07, 2021, from https://www.unwto.org/tourism-in2030-agenda?fbclid=IwAR0D5RItgJD0HZDxlPgC4Pz-P8eFDmSZKLdmcZDK1rowjedl-Ij5B0w2S8
World report on disability 2011 (Rep.). (n.d.). World
health Organization. doi:https://www.who.int/disabilities/world_
Citizen rights and diversity. (n.d.). Retrieved February
05, 2021, from https://ajuntament.barcelona.cat/dretsidiversitat/

How can tourism become more accessible, inclusive
and sustainable? (2019, August 04). Retrieved February 07, 2021,
What is universal design. (n.d.). Retrieved February 07,
2021, from http://universaldesign.ie/What-is-Universal-Design/


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13 million visitors/year

10,000 blind people


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Literature Review

¨ During the past four years, I have learned theories to be applied in interior design. Between
the choice of materials, colors, textures and lighting, all the processes were around a visual
perspective. Today, looking back, I question myself on what I want to do in the future and,
having this last project in my hands, I want to connect opportunities, involving more into real
challenging issues and re-thinking the conventional ways of “seeing the World”. ¨


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Figure 5


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Literature Review


Interior design is about knowing how to deal with

generate a feeling of acknowledgement. For example,

space, materials, color, light, furniture, equipment,

it has been proven that interactive action impacts the

objects and the needs of the individual, in order to

brain more, as it operates and applies simultaneously to

create places that are both functional and aesthetic.

different human senses (sight, hearing, taste, touch and

It approaches the idea that a space is influenceable, it can

smell). The book ¨24 hours in our brain¨, written by

create an atmosphere, a sensation and even play with

Erwan Deveze, researches, through a more psychological

emotions. By using the right combination of elements

path, how the human brain works and how our brain

and features, to create each specific surface and level of

evolves, throughout life, according to the events we

a room or area, we were trained to design spaces that

experience and the learning we receive. By creating

are aesthetically pleasant, functional and in conformity

intellectual connections, using different senses together,

with established plans and specifications, for a client or

it is possible to modify our emotions in a much more

specific needs. As students, we are not only called to study

efficient and personal way. The brain is part of every

specific problems related to the understanding and the

emotion, feeling and thought felt by a human being.

representation of space, but also the relationship between

Philosopher Aristote argued that our thoughts were the

the person and his or her environment. The learning is

fruit of our experience2 (¨the ability to detect information

based on a balance between theory and practice. Author

about our environment¨). while Plato asserted that all

Peter Zumthor, in a very poetic story (¨Atmospheres¨),

brain functions were from internal origin3 (¨The mind

raised the idea that music and art determine a similar

is synonymous with thinking and reasoning¨). The

process and response in people. For example, he mentions

idea that the brain is an organ that controls not only

the idea that music, sounds and vibration can create an

physical action but connects itself to how someone can

atmosphere. A theory comparable to interior design,

feel, is authoritative. Physical and sensorial actions have

when playing with materials, colors and light. His book

therefore a powerful impact on emotions.


raised the idea that the same feeling can be created by

Senses are the receptor systems of perception. The

different features and methodologies. Each person has

sensory system is the interface between each individual

an emotional sensibility that is going to be affected by an

and the world. The human needs to develop a sensory

intended staged scenario.

receptivity to be able to react and move towards an action

A space may also have an interactive responsibility to

Ringot, E. (2020, July 16). L’être humain a EN Réalité
neuf sens (et NON 5). Retrieved February 05, 2021, from https://
Silverman, A. (2014, July 14). Plato’s middle Period
metaphysics and epistemology. Retrieved February 06, 2021, from

Zumthor, P. (2006). Peter Zumthor: Atmospheres:
Architectural environments, surrounding objects. Basel:


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Literature Review


Figure 6

Figure 7


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Literature Review

or an object, as well as to situate himself in his body and

opportunity to look for further information and materials

in his environment. This sensory receptivity is achieved

to challenge the design world.

through the intermediary of sensory receptors (organs

Looking at visuality and perceptibility as an important

linked to each sense: nose, eyes, ears, skin and mouth)

sense, it is interesting to see how this idea of an interactive

and will follow a path through the nervous system

process could lead to an alternative stimulation reaction.

(through nerve impulses) allowing the brain to interpret

Artists such as Sophie Calle and MEF (Movimento de

the information it receives4. The brain is therefore an

Expressão Fotográfica), have approached the concept by

essential tool for the proper functioning of the sensory

investigating how blind people are touched and how they

mechanism. The senses are the receptors of information

perceive the idea of feelings, beauty and memory. Sophie

from our body in our environment and can be added

Calle’s work turns around photography and storytelling

together, creating a connection. Therefore, senses can

as a message of personal experience that some people

influence each other. For example, depending on what
you see or hear, you may have a different taste sensation.

have lived. Her main concept is around the question:

A philosophical concept by Aristotle explores the fact

perceived by those who do not see?¨6. MEF exhibition

that humans have 9 senses5 rather than 5. He added

¨Ver com outros Olhos¨7 (Seeing with other Eyes) aims at



exploring different processes of interpretation of artwork,

Nociception. Proprioception is the capacity to know

through senses other than sight (touch and hearing)

where our members are located and how to use them;

in order to facilitate access to the arts, for people with

Equilibrium is the capacity to maintain a balance

visual impairment. The exhibition illustrates the work

with gravity; Thermoception is the capacity to feel and

developed by people who are blind or have low vision,

differentiate temperature; Nociception is the capacity

to encourage personal and artistic expression through

to feel the pain. He explored, in a deeper investigation,




¨If beauty is primarily a visual experience, how is it

the scientific knowledge that led to improved cultural
practices. This exploration again questions our individual
knowledge on the subject and maybe even gives us the
Qu’est CE que Les sens? A QUOI NOUS SERVENT-IL?
(n.d.). Retrieved February 04, 2021, from http://tpemarketingsensoriel.e-monsite.com/pages/nos-cinq-sens/qu-est-ce-que-lessens-a-quoi-nous-servent-il.html
Ringot, E. (2020, July 16). L’être humain a EN Réalité
neuf sens (et NON 5). Retrieved February 05, 2021, from https://

Wong, P. (2019, January 15). Los ciegos - SOPHIE CALLE: El Anaquel: Blog literario. Retrieved February 05, 2021, from
Ver com outros olhos. (n.d.). Retrieved February 04,
2021, from https://gulbenkian.pt/agenda/ver-com-outros-olhos/


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Literature Review


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Literature Review

¨Someone asked me once, if I had to choose between losing my sight or losing my hearing,
what would I choose? The question did not demand much thinking: I would choose to lose my
hearing; even though I am very passionate for music, my world turns more around my visual


The blind

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Figure 8


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Literature Review


Impaired vision is categorized in different groups,

in the world, of which 36 million were blind and 217

depending on the level of the damage on the eye.

million visually impaired. These figures are expected

The 4 levels are the following: normal vision, moderate

to triple by 2050 due to population growth and aging.

visual impairment, severe visual impairment and total

This is one of the conclusions of a vast study conducted

blindness. Blindness can come from birth or appear later

by some fifteen international researchers and published

in life due to different types of infections , cataract, DMLA,

in September 2017 in the very serious British journal

diabetes, genetic problems or age. The contrast of those

“The Lancet Global Health”2. Those numbers concern

factors establishes a very different experience of visual

different categories of age and locations. In 2015, people

impairment, as some will remember visual features such

over 50 years of age accounted for 86% of blind people,

as colors and places and others would never be able to

80% of those with moderate to severe disabilities, and

interpret and distinguish visual shapes or images and the

74% of those with mild disabilities. In this age group,

world as we see it. Vision plays an important role in many

the highest prevalence rates of blindness are recorded

areas: information, communication, everyday gestures,

in emerging countries. This significant gap is observed

and mobility. Etymologically, blind means deprived

for all visual impairments, regardless of their level of

of sight, but many people prefer to say “blind”, out of

severity. Another finding of the study is that more than

delicacy or to mitigate a frightening reality. Being blind

one in two (55%) visually impaired people are women. It

means that the connexion between the eye and the brain

is striking that the main causes, which account for more

isn’t occurring. A blind person understands the literary

than 80% of all visual impairments, are preventable or

sense of a word and stays sensitive to the poetique, ethical

curable. The impact of these causes are obviously linked

and even mystical value of it. However, visual impairment

to the difficulty, or even impossibility, of accessing quality

engenders difficulties to understand spatial orientation,

optical care and correction in developing countries. In

time and specific visual characteristics such as colors and

high-income countries such as ours, it is mainly diseases


related to advanced age (AMD, glaucoma) that are at the


root of low vision or blindness. Geographic disparities are

There are more than 500 million people with physical,

therefore important and significant.

intellectual and sensory disabilities in the world, more
than 50 million in Europe and around 4 million in Spain.
In 2015, there were 253 million visually impaired people

Ligue braille asbl. (2017, December 19). Retrieved
February 08, 2021, from https://www.braille.be/fr/a-propos-denous/actualites/2017/12/trois-fois-plus-de-personnes-aveugleset-malvoyantes-en-2050

Larson, J. (2019, November 20). What do blind
people see? Facts and research. Retrieved February 07, 2021,
from https://www.healthline.com/health/eye-health/what-doblind-people-see#research


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Literature Review

¨ When there is a problem, there is a solution. That is the philosophy on which some designers
base their goals. I believe that, as a designer, it is our responsibility to see the gaps in the society
and propose new ideas although considering there could always be more than one solution. ¨


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Literature Review


Technology has brought diverse possibilities for the

While some technologies are meant to integrate and

use of day to day objects, to be adapted for people with

help blind people to adapt, others are safety tools used

disabilities. One of the main challenges for disability is

by others to help them with orientation and description.

mobility. As mentioned previously, orientation is mainly

There are development processes that are part of official

visual and people with visual impairment use other

legislation such as electric vehicles that have to be audible

senses such as hearing and touch, to be able to perceive

even at low speed or while reversing2. For some vehicles,

their surroundings. In a city, where noises are constantly

artificial noise is even incorporated. Furthermore, in

changing and unpredictable, it becomes more difficult

many cities traffic lights include sound alerts for access

to feel secure and trust the outdoor environment. This

(red, orange and green) in order for blind people to know

challenge is facilitated with either a trained dog or a cane,

when to cross the streets. Execution mandatory systems

in order for them to be aware of any obstacle they might

and design are already a big step in accommodating

face. But then again, there is the notion of trust. As you

different communities’ needs. Small societal changes

lose one important sense you do need to trust the people

can help people in need, but in order for these to be put

around you and the environment of your journey. Being

into action, the existing problems have to be known and

blind means being limited, means potentially suffering

recognized. The development process for people with

from social exclusion. There are inventions but not

visual impairment is mainly assistive technology which

always options. In everyday life visually-impaired people

provides items designed specifically to help with daily

face restricted activities. Statistics have shown that only

activities, including screen readers for blind individuals

10% of internet websites are accessible to the blind. That

or screen magnifiers, video magnifiers and other devices

only 6% of books are adapted for them. That only 20%

for reading and writing with low vision, to braille watches

of films that come out in the movies and 4% of television

etc. There are already tools for translating into braille but

channels are audio-described. Looking at simple and

they are not currently suitable. Today’s technologies are

accessible platforms, and comparing their access facility

hardly accessible to the visually impaired. Technology such

features for the blind, one clearly understands the

as the digital tablet, that transcribes everything in Braille


barriers for these people in our society. So when thinking
of tourism as an experience, as a mouvement and as an
exploration process, one feels these situations should be
questioned and addressed.
Anonymous. (2019, July 03). Electric and hybrid
cars: New rules on noise emitting to protect vulnerable road users.
Retrieved February 07, 2021, from https://ec.europa.eu/growth/

Quelques chiffres sur LA déficience visuelle. (n.d.).
Retrieved February 06, 2021, from https://aveuglesdefrance.org/


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Figure 9

Literature Review

Figure 11



Figure 10

Figure 12

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Literature Review

Figure 13

Figure 14


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Literature Review

(developed by an Austrian startup, Blitab Technology)3
could be the first step towards smartphones and other
connected objects to be also adapted for the visually
impaired in Braille. The technology uses liquid to instantly
create Braille characters. This is revolutionary and the
company wanted to solve a relevant problem: literacy for
blind people. This technology is highly scalable so that
it can highlight images and any other representations.
This is one more way to properly integrate the visually
impaired and blind into this society, which sometimes
tends to involuntarily exclude them. There are, of course,
many ways to make literary resources accessible to the
blind, such as the Francophone digital library, which offers
visually impaired people the opportunity to have books
transcribed in Braille. But the choice remains limited and
the opportunities to read are even more rare for them.
Another way to provide new ways to read is through the
FingerReader, from Media Lab (from MIT) that creates
a smart ring that scans text as the user’s finger moves
across the page. FingerReader is a technology that allows
visually impaired people to read a book or any printed
text as they wish. It is therefore clear that technology and
design are bringing many new design objects and tools,
able to facilitate the life of people with disabilities. There is
therefore an opportunity to create balanced opportunities
for different life scenarios and to explore more innovative
systems that can be incorporated in the tourism world.
Source : visionaware Par Precila Rambhunjun,
Visionaware, & Rambhunjun, P. (2019, March 11). 4 technologies
INNOVANTES Conçues pour RÉVOLUTIONNER Le quotidien
Des malvoyants. Retrieved February 10, 2021, from https://


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¨I thought to myself, what is imagination for people that have never seen? How can I dive into this world that I have
never experienced?¨



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Part of the investigation was to completely immerse

to the needs of people with different disabilities. They

myself in the conceptual project idea. To be able to

provide transport, accomodation and activities for groups

really understand the feelings of visually- impaired people,

of tourists. Their goal is to raise awareness of tourism

I thought it was important to talk to them directly. I had

entrepreneurs and local and provincial authorities about

the opportunity to interview Manel Martin Salvador

the importance of considering accessibility and inclusion

who became blind when he was 30. I have divided the set

in tourism planning and management. Through this

of questions into three themes to follow a certain order

discussion, I have found myself in a privileged position and

(Annex 1). The first set included personal questions about

wanted to explore more about visually-impaired people’s

his daily life. The second set included questions with a

everyday life, by understanding the way they experience

perspective more related to art, creativity and space. The

life in Barcelona. The next step consisted therefore of

third part were questions related to travel and tourism.

looking at different features that one can encounter in

The interview helped me to acknowledge the personal

Barcelona which one may, not just connect visually to but

difficulties that one can face when being blind. The

perceive through the use of the four remaining senses -

personal frustration one can feel can be due to design

taste, hearing, touch and smell.

layout and method. As a blind person cannot see, simple

It is also worth looking at some new approaches to tourism

characteristics, from rectangular surfaces and corners to

that, although thought for non-visually impaired people,

space distribution, can be a challenge. Manel also talked

follow a trend that could be useful for the blind and the

to me about his leisure activities, such as literature,

visually impaired. Experimental tourism is an approach to

music and even outdoor exercises. As the president of an

tourism in which visitors do not visit the ordinary tourist

association based in Barcelona (La Associació Discapacitat

attractions following an ordinary approach, but are guided

Visual Catalunya1), he works with the Barcelona City Hall

to explore them by other means. It is an alternative form

to help improve facilities and public space to make the

of tourism in which destinations are presented not on

city more inclusive. In Catalonia, other organisations

the basis of their usual touristic features or routes but on

such as “Tourisme per a tothom”, present a selection

the basis of a particular idea or experiment. Blindfolded

of destinations which propose a range of adapted tourist

tourism is a form of experimental tourism consisting of

conveniences, so tourists can enjoy a real cultural

a guided tour in which the tourist is blindfolded while

experience in Catalonia. From magnificent landscapes to

being talked through the visited areas, as opposed to

rich gastronomy, they organise group activities adapted

traditional sightseeing. A blind tour is therefore a different
experience, exploring the environment in the absence of
one vital sense, sight, but allowing the stimulation of

Associació Discapacitats Visuals Catalunya B1B2B3.
(n.d.). Retrieved February 07, 2021, from https://www.b1b2b3.

the other relevant senses, namely hearing, touch and

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smell. This concept has been related to the one of the

presents mixed activities such as some in Catania, Sicily,

‘Dans le noir’ ( in the dark restaurant), where clients of

where local visits always include some sensorial aspect

a restaurant are served meals in an environment where

(i.e. one monument and a gastronomic experience; the

there is no light. This concept, first presented in Paris,

Tactile museum followed by a city tour; mount Etna and

has now expanded to different locations around the

local products tasting, etc).

world. Several examples of this kind of activity are worth
exploring as they can inspire future tourism trends in
different cities or locations. Some of them were proposed
as far back as 1970, like a blindfolded tour to explore
the smells of the City of London. More recently, similar
guided tours have been organized in Prague, Vancouver,
in the Alfama quarter of Lisbon, in Tirana, Ekaterinbourg,
Dubai and Montevideu.
A French artist, Paul Coudamy, created the project “Blind
Tourism’’, a blindfold circuit in Tirana, Abania, where
blindfolded2 tourists walk around with a guide who
describes the surroundings. Tourists are encouraged
to describe their sensations and these are recorded. In
the end, a film is shown, to the non-visually impaired,
comparing reality with the sensations recorded. It is
interesting to note that some travel companies have
already created offers inspired by these new concepts and
propose routes where visually impaired or other disabled
tourists explore touristic locations through alternative
opportunities. Seable3, a travel company offering tailored
touristic packages for the blind or partially sighted people,

Tremblay, L. (2008, November 07). Blindfolded sightseeing. Retrieved March 08, 2021, from https://www.trendhunter.
Holidays for blind and partially sighted. (n.d.). Retrieved
March 24, 2021, from https://seable.co.uk/the-people-at-seable/


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Figure 15


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The project narrative

¨ Each city has a history. A past, a present and a future it dreams of. I thought to myself, what is the story of Barcelona? Is there only one side of it? Everyone walks through the city without noticing necessarily the same elements
and details. For the local population, expat workers, international students and tourists, Barcelona has a myriad of
lifestystyles and different everyday scenarios. How far can locals or visitors apprehend the essence of a city when
they are mostly touched by what they see? ¨


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The project narrative

The visible and the invisible
Between the sea and the mountains, Barcelona, the

The development of Barcelona’s public space shows

intellectual and cultivated capital of an industrial and

how the structures, distributions, rhythms, association

productive Catalonia, shows a temporal dynamism

or opposition of themes and motifs are thought to help

that represents an important source of wealth both

the tourist understand the whole site and situate it in

for the region and for Spain. For locals or visitors, there

his quest as a traveler. The image, the color, the texture,

are different approaches on how to view Barcelona. The

the structure of the places are not only decorative, they

city is personal to each individual. This project is based

are not there to embellish the architectural setting but

on a narrative that follows the quest for understanding

because they make sense. The public space is not only

the essence and the identity of the city. And beyond

built on forms and volumes, but also on structures,

the traditional touristic stereotyped images, seen in

axes, plans, colors, gestures and attitudes considered as

social media, the city’s essence is linked to the identity

elements of urban regeneration. These are the bases of

of its people, their past history, their present challenges

the development of tourist public spaces in Barcelona:

and future vision. The narrative intends to address the

the arrangement of the elements of the urban furniture,

contrast between objective and subjective perspectives

their nature, composition and architecture create the

on the city. A classic touristic journey around the city

strong elements offered by the city, the synthesis of its

allows visitors to discover mostly the beautiful colorful

environment. In this city the insertion of art in the public

‘postcards’ they were expecting to find. Some sense that a

space , reveals a world of symbols where each object, each

city’s essence goes beyond that. A narrative taking a lead

element, each form in the public space used for tourism

such as ‘the blind tourism’ intends not just to consider

is the figuration of something else that corresponds to

a new approach to tourism, both inclusive and original,

it at a deeper level, sometimes hidden in the “memory”

but also to create an opportunity for all to divert from

of the place, with a profound meaning. This symbolic

the visual aspects and dive into a very different way to

representation of Barcelona is frequently missed during

apprehend environments. For the purpose of this project

traditional tourism approaches. This is why tourists

and to look into the diverse physical and human aspects

should be invited not to establish a too sharp frontier

that build the city today, I chose to explore some of the

between the real and the imaginary.

most emblematic environments (the city, the urban
green areas, and the sea) where peoples’ senses might
be challenged and allow them to be touched in a different
way than visually. One of the reasons for creating this
narrative is to propose a way of exploring a city or an
environment, well beyond the classical visual stereotypes,
in order for people not to be ‘blinded’ by the city’s

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The project narrative


The city
Natural spaces

Balearic sea

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The project narrative


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The project narrative

The city

Capital of a commercial empire in the Middle Ages,

and living conditions and social welfare of the population.

Barcelona was, from the 18th century, in the forefront

The dynamic in the working-class neighbourhoods

of the industrial revolution. The city experienced,

contributed to the political consensus that allowed the

at the time, a first strong wave of urban growth and

city to host the 1992 Olympic Games, an event that gave

expanded quickly beyond the city walls to the outlying

to the world a triumphant image of Barcelona, triggering

villages. In 1860 , the architect Ildefons Cerdà created

the continuation of a modern urbanization movement.

the urban expansion plan designed as the “Eixample”,

This third wave of urban growth was marked by the

considered one of the greatest examples of modern

development of a tertiary sector and medium and high-

urbanism of its century, in Europe. The second great

class residences3, converting the entire municipality into

wave of urban growth was generated by the second

the central space of a rapidly expanding urbanized area.

industrial revolution , particularly in the 1920’s and

The effects of this third wave are especially noticeable

from the mid-1950’s to the mid-1970s. The arrival in the

in the area between the Ciutadella Park, on the edge

city of a great number of populations looking for work

of the old town, and the mouth of the Besòs River. This

in the many industrial plants, led to the development of

particular area of the coastal front, underwent a great

large suburban neighborhoods. Whilst during the first

number of changes resulting from the stabilization

wave, the workers lived close to the factories, this second

process of the peripheral neighborhoods from the first

wave brought the development of public and private

two waves and was further confronted with the greatest

transport and led to the relocation of industrial activities

urban metamorphosis in Barcelona and one of the most

and workers' housing estates to the outskirts, with a

remarkable in Europe.



greater distance between places of work and residence.
The metropolitan area of Barcelona then approached
4 million inhabitants. The end of the second wave of
urbanization coincided with the end of the Franco
dictatorship. After the return to democracy in 1975, the
improvement of neighbourhoods became the priority of
the new local authorities, showing concern for the work

ILDEFONS CERDÀ. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.
Looch, C. (2016, January 17). 12 historical events that
Shaped barcelona. Retrieved March 31, 2021, from https://theculturetrip.com/europe/spain/articles/12-events-that-shaped-barcelonas-history/

Barcelona urban development and change. (n.d.).
Retrieved March 31, 2021, from https://geographyfieldwork.com/


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The project narrative - the city

What makes Barcelona's architecture distinctive?

Catalan language, and traditions, but also through the

Bold, cheeky, colorful, distinctive, harmonious, varied

abundant presence of Catalan national symbols found

and unique are just a few adjectives that come to mind

in his works. Especially during his youth Gaudí was

when describing Barcelona's architecture. Barcelona

extraordinarily interested in getting to know the country

has managed to blend the old and the new in a way that

and joined the "Asociación Catalanista de Excursiones

makes this city simply beautiful. Antonio Gaudi is known

Científicas"2 where he worked with a group of passionate

for his architecture drawing inspiration from the forms

patriots defending the art, the landscape, the culture and

and colors of different elements of nature that creates a

the language of Catalonia. In social terms, he would be

style different from other Catalan modernists . Through

rather conservative and an enemy of industrialization,

his creative genius, Gaudi succeeded in linking nature

despite having lived in the industrial city of Reus (then the

and architecture, which he considered to be inseparable

second city of Catalonia) with an important working class

elements. However, it is the form that he gives to these

population of rather revolutionary tendencies. During his

materials that makes his architecture aesthetically

lifetime, architecture, literature, theater, sculpture and

distinctive. Many of the architect's creations are inspired

music took on a new impulse that extended well beyond

by organic forms: his palm trunk columns, for example.

Catalonia’s borders.


In addition to being inspired by mineral and vegetal
elements, Gaudi also reproduced aquatic forms such as
the undulation of the walls and ceilings in whirlpools. He
also revived the technique of Trencadís (a catalan word
that means ‘chopped’) that used broken tile mosaics,
cemented together, to create random designs, pictorial
scenes or geometric patterns. Gaudí’s work with this
technique can be seen in Park Guëll and Casa Batlló. This
technique can be sensed as a beautiful and deliberated
chaos of colors and patterns while touch senses the
works as cold and somehow as a defective design. Gaudí
was a fervent Catalan patriot as described by numerous
testimonies on his strong positions in favour of the
Une architecture organique - l’architecture gaudienne
à barcelone. (n.d.). Retrieved March 24, 2021, from https://sites.

“Centre excursionista de catalunya”. (n.d.). Retrieved
March 31, 2021, from https://izi.travel/en/869a-centre-excursionista-de-catalunya/es


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The project narrative - the city

Urban features
For a long time, tourism was synonymous with a

designed to avoid rain floods around the city and create

population exodus to the beaches, to natural areas or

a system that, by storing water in its grooves, would

to snow resorts, and was not of particularly concern to

allow people to walk safely. From square rectangles with

the city manager. But, today, urban planning no longer

a flower symbol (“panot” in catalan) to octagonal ones

ignores this sector of activity. When city planning takes

(“baldosas” in catalan) representing a sea floor, with an

into account the use of art, of the form and color in the

ammonite, a starfish and seaweed, these unique tiles

urban public space, it is not only thinking of the people

create a puzzle role in the city sidewalks. The famous gray

of the city, the residents, but also to improve the city's

hydraulic cement tile, known as “panot”, proliferated in

image to the outside world. As early as the 1960s, during

Barcelona following the development of the Eixample,

the Franco period , neighborhood associations played

the orderly designed ogrid-like extension of the city of

an important role in Barcelona as part of opposition

Barcelona, planned by Ildefons Cerdà. Nowadays, cities

movements in urban struggles. Today, legitimized by the

are the spectacle of the perpetual movement of city

municipality in place, structured and informed, they play

dwellers in their daily lives. The experience of the city

more than ever a decisive role in the democratic debate

dweller is relatively complex due to the sheer size of

on urban planning policies, development projects and the

the urban space and the means of transport used to get

defense of old neighborhoods.

around it. Cities such as Barcelona, despite an impressive


network of roads and public transport have, through

Barcelona is often praised by architects for its urban

a clear-sought planning process, managed to keep a

planning. Walking around the city, one notices that the

privileged place for pedestrians. The reconquest of the

buildings have, on the corners, a flat edge; this is called

streets by the pedestrians is illustrated, in Barcelona, by

a "chamfered corner". This organisation of street

the wide sidewalks, introducing comfort, the presence of

intersections, creates a more open feeling, with airy

vegetation, the sense of tranquility. The average spatial

streets and room for terraces at street corners giving

partition of public space is 50% for the pedestrian,

Barcelona it’s sociable and communal atmosphere. One

and authorities aim at raising it to 70%; the opposite

of the most striking architectural features travellers notice

of cities like Paris, where the partition is 30/702. Thus,

while walking around in Barcelona are the characteristic

Barcelona reinvents itself and creates, on its own grid,

modernist sidewalks, unique to the city. The cold and

areas of tranquility, avoiding car transit-streets become

sanded material used by modernist architects was first

pedestrian squares with café terraces, transitional plant
Ecology. urban Planning, infrastructures and mobility.
(n.d.). Retrieved March 31, 2021, from https://ajuntament.barcelona.cat/ecologiaurbana/en/what-we-do-and-why/quality-public-space/barcelona-plays-things-right

Francisco Franco. (2019, October 24). Retrieved March
31, 2021, from https://canalhistoria.es/perfiles/francisco-franco/


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The project narrative - the city

nurseries, children's playgrounds and various temporary
uses to test the possible durability.
The transformation is not only physical and urban, it
is also social, cultural and, above all, economic. The
transformation favors accessibility and visibility of
commercial first floors open to the street, the fight
against pollution and heat islands. To accompany this
transformation, the urban mobility plan favors bicycles,
creates room for the use of other mobility tools such as
skates, roller-skates, scooters, etc. and multiplies public
transport lines where frequency and speed are already
facilitated by the straight lines of the downtown grid.
Overall, the main objective is to improve the well-being of
the city’s residents. Barcelona’s Diagonal Avenue, a large
street that runs diagonally straight through the center of
the city, is also praised by architects and urban planners
and when it was built, was considered an original urban
planning project. The center of Barcelona can be separated
into three main areas: the old town or Barri Gòtic, the
original Barcelona, is today characterized by old winding
streets and large old black buildings, the Raval district,
a first extension of the original old town and, finally, the
Eixample, a large structured area that was added to the
old town. Each neighborhood has its own unique and
distinctive character.


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The project narrative - the city

Scents of a City
"It is said that every city, every country has its own

Furthermore, Smelly Maps is able to identify odors caused

smell," wrote Baudelaire. Barcelona is no exception to

by garbage, animals, nature or food. Unsurprisingly, the

the rule. The Catalan capital is not only famous for its

majority of this olfactory contamination comes from

architecture, its landscape and its streets. Smells are

unnatural emissions such as pollution from cars, with

part of the city. In 2013, Victoria Henshaw, professor of

odors coming from nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons.

urban planning and author of the book "Smellscapes

Sewers are also very important factors. In Barcelona,

Urban", organized an olfactory journey in Barcelona.

there is no separate sewerage system for wastewater

Accompanied by experts, every corner of the city was

and rainwater. The two waters are mixed, the drains

analyzed, smelled and noted. Garbage, graffiti on walls,

carry mainly black water that comes from the sanitary

the Ramblas or the Boqueria market, nothing was left to

facilities. The street most affected by these nuisances is

chance. The most interesting are the tourist areas. Here,

Carrer Arago, one of the widest streets in Barcelona. It

they are numerous and the smells are multiple" explains

alone accounts for more than 90% of bad smells due to

Victoria Henshaw. At the Boqueria market, the smell of

the reasons mentioned above. The smell of cannabis is

fruit is considered "pleasant". But a few meters further

also very common in some areas of Barcelona such as in

on, the smell of urine hovers in the air. Here, as in all

El Born, El Raval and Gracia since private consumption is

large cities, odor pollution comes primarily from traffic,

allowed in Spain, a problem that is only increasing, and

sewers and garbage cans. However, young computer

leads to numerous complaints from citizens.

scientists have been able to pinpoint these bad smells.
The researchers created an unusual project called "Smelly
Maps"1. Based on the same concept as Google Map, this
application consists of mapping the different urban
smells. After visiting seven cities, the creators of Smelly
Maps have listed the smells thanks to the information
disclosed on Twitter, Instagram or Flickr. In total, nearly
20 million images and tweets were analyzed and mapped
using keywords, hashtags or geolocalized publications.
Using a color scheme, the maps represent the locations
where social network users reported the most unnatural
emissions, such as pollution, (red) and natural (green).
Select a layer. (n.d.). Retrieved March 31, 2021, from


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The project narrative - the city

Mobility and noise pollution
If air pollution has become a major issue, acoustic

further: "The absence of calm prevents introspection.

pollution also worries specialists because of its harmful

Except that we all need it to think and move forward

consequences on health. "Noise is torture" - Àngels

in life. Without introspection, we can't evolve" adds the

Córcoles Pàmies, a psychotherapist specializing in


emotional well-being in Barcelona, makes this clear
statement. Traffic, construction, neighbors, subway,

Noise, a silent problem, according to the European

airplane, the nuisance is everywhere. In the Catalan

Directive, cities must make a noise map, updating the

capital, more than half of the inhabitants suffer from

data every five years. By entering an address, Internet

noise pollution that exceeds the limits imposed by the

users discover the number of decibels in the morning,

World Health Organization (WHO) .

afternoon and evening on the one published by the


Barcelona City Council. However, the figures date back to

For Àngels Córcoles Pàmies, the consequences are

2012. The noise map should have been approved again in

both physical and psychological. Being exposed to high

2017, but the update has not been made and no concrete

noise levels leads to hearing loss as we age, but also to

measures have been taken to combat the nuisance. The

hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases. "The

people of Barcelona must show that they are concerned

body receives noise as a danger". For example, the growth

about noise pollution.

of children may be strongly disrupted as overexposure
to noise prevents deep sleep and it is during this phase
that the growth hormone is secreted. The consequences
would also be dramatic for pregnant women, with the
fetus directly affected.
From a psychological point of view, noise causes
"paranoia, anguish, increased anxiety and difficulty in
concentrating”. Since loud sounds are seen as a threat,
people also feel very vulnerable. The psychotherapist
points out that residents are not aware that noise is the
source of their problems. The disturbances can even go

Noise makes us ill and is a public health problem - blog.
(2017, October 20). Retrieved March 31, 2021, from https://www.


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The project narrative - the city

Imagine Gaudi, creating his famous mosaics using

samfaina (made with eggplant, zucchini, tomato, onion,

ceramic fragments of various colors and stories. You

garlic and sometimes chilli), the aioli and the romesco

will then have an idea of what Catalan cuisine looks like.

sauce (made with tomato, dried red bell pepper, almonds

Lovers of local products and traditional recipes, catalan

and garlic). The picades (from Catalan picar, "to crush"),

people reinvent them with their ‘sauce’ to compose new

consist of a paste made up of several crushed ingredients,

tables of flavors, which can be infinitely varied in Catalan

that can be added to sauces, soups and other dishes. Many

gastronomy. At every street corner, one can find tapas’

combinations are possible, between the products used for

bars, some gastronomic, specialized in seafood, typical

the picades and between picades and sauces.

of the Spanish culture. In addition, the typical Catalan
cuisine is a Mediterranean cuisine, which means that
it perfectly combines the products of the land and the
sea. The character of this thousand-year-old cuisine
was forged in contact with many civilizations such as
the Iberians, Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs and Jews.
These diverse influences allow Catalan cuisine to be
more than just Mediterranean and to differentiate itself
from its neighbors1. Catalan cuisine has its roots in the
Mediterranean, both because of its geographical location
and its historical influence when Phoenicians, Greeks
and Romans traded with Catalonia in the past. Catalan
cuisine is thus rich in spices and sweet and savoury tastes
are common with the use of honey, cinnamon, almonds,
pine nuts and dried fruit. Fresh and dried fruits are also
commonly used, whether in garnishes, side dishes, sauces
or picades. Sauces and picades are important in Catalan
cuisine. Some of the most popular sauces are the sofregit
(a sauce made with tomato, onion and olive oil), the
Brannigan, A., Says, K., Brookes, K., Says, A., Says, P.,
Peter, . . . Says:, A. (2021, January 27). Traditional food in BARCELONA: 17 typical Catalan DISHES: Complete Guide. Retrieved
March 31, 2021, from https://runnerbeantours.com/traditional-food-in-barcelona-typical-catalan-dishes/


--49 49 -

The project narrative

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- 50 -

The project narrative - the city

Barcelona is a cosmopolitan and polyglot city where
over 300 languages are spoken in its streets, resulting
from the vibrant international community established
there. Barcelona authorities promote, through specific
strategies and measures, a very diverse inter-cultural
and multi-faceted city model, where people of different
origins, cultures and religious beliefs live side by side.
There are two official languages in the city, Catalan
and Spanish, and the majority of Barcelona’s residents
consider themselves fully bilingual, able to switch from
Catalan to Spanish with ease. There are also more and
more people who understand and speak English and
other international languages. A large number of Catalan
families speak exclusively Catalan at home and regard
it as their language of identity. Catalan is the language
of instruction in Catalonia's schools, where Spanish
and another foreign language, usually English, are also
taught. Catalan is also the vehicular language of the local
authority’s bodies, institutions and general administration.
It is therefore normal that, wandering around the city,
one hears very mixed sounds of conversations whatever
the area. A considerable part of Barcelona’s population is
made up of internal migrants from other parts of Spain
or of immigrants or descendants of immigrants from
Latin America who speak Spanish as their mother tongue
and main language. In the most touristic places one will
hear all sorts of languages from all around the world.


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The project narrative - the city

Barcelona Catalan idenity
Barcelona’s society, as in the rest of Catalonia, is

representing popular references. The Castells are human

divided on how the region should evolve in the future.

towers, multilayered constructions with the participation

However, beyond the current political debate, there is a

of both men and women called castellers and organised

catalan identity that is transversal to most areas of social

in clubs (colles castelleres). This is a unique tradition,

life. Catalan language is a major issue in this debate as

recognised since 2006 by the UNESCO as Intangible

the learning and the use of Catalan was forbidden at

Cultural Heritage of Humanity. As it often happens, a city

several moments of Catalonia’s History. In Barcelona,

or region’s population has its own expression through

as well as all across Catalonia, people cherish traditions

music. Catalonia is no exception. The Sardana 3is a type

particularly the ones that are specific to the region. The

of music and danse deeply rooted in the catalan culture,

City celebrates several festive events, some related to

Dating back from the 16th century, it has since developed

religious practices such as La Mercè , honouring Our

as a symbol of cultural identity, particularly because it was

Lady of Mercy or the Sant Jordi , Catalonia’s equivalent

forbidden during Franco’s dictatorship. In this popular

of Valentine’s Day, when men and women exchange

dance, men and women join together in a circle holding

roses and books. Other festive events are related to the

hands and moving sideways in alternate directions with

city’s political History such as the Diada, celebrating the

very precise steps.



National Day of Catalonia, on the 11 September, which
commemorates the fall of Barcelona during the war of the
Spanish succession in 1714. During these periods, visitors
will have the opportunity to witness the attachment of the
population to national symbols such as the national flag
(the Sanyera, a yellow flag with 4 red stripes) and the
national anthem (Els Segadors), heard not just during
political but also at cultural events. During most festive
events it is common to see the presence of two traditional
features of catalan popular culture. The Gegants are
giant figures who are present in processions or festivals

Festes de la Mercè 2020: GUIA completa. (n.d.). Retrieved
March 31, 2021, from https://www.timeout.cat/barcelona/ca/quefer/festes-de-la-merce-guia-completa
Betevé, C., & Dias, N. (2021, March 25). Sant Jordi
2021 a Barcelona: Restriccions del 23 D’ABRIL. Retrieved March 31,
2021, from https://beteve.cat/agenda/sant-jordi-barcelona/

La sardana. (n.d.). Retrieved March 31, 2021, from


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Cherry tree

Pine tree




Orange tree
Lilac flower
Horned owl
Palm trees

Pine tree

chestnut tree


- 53 -

The project narrative

Urban green areas
Fauna and flora

Barcelona is a city committed to the preservation

in sensory terms. While conceived as a set of gardens to

of the city’s natural areas and the authorities have

bring peace and calm, the Park Güell is one of the main

even established a plan - the Barcelona Green

Barcelona’s tourist attractions, often welcoming crowds of

Infrastructure and Biodiversity Plan, aimed at

visitors who can rarely experience quietness and enjoy the

evaluating, protecting and extending the green areas

surrounding nature, the sounds of birds or the garden of

within the urban fabric. Walking around the city one

scents, even if the park supports a wide variety of wildlife.

realizes there is a very diverse range of natural features,

In the Parc de la Ciutadella, the many visitors tend to relax

public or private, parks, ponds, gardens, squares, tree-

and stay in small groups and the environment is less noisy

lined streets, natural open natural spaces. Urban green

although, at peak hours, traffic around the area will make

areas provide important benefits to the city and the city’s

it less quiet. On the contrary, Montjuic provides a true

population such as health, wellbeing, beauty, landscape,

sense of being in nature, the forest allowing to experience

culture and room for socialisation. Among the most

quietness and fresh air. All around the city, small gardens,

important urban green spaces are the Parc of Ciutadella

street trees or small squares host a number of birds and

and Montjuic which are very popular areas for both city

one of the most characteristic sounds in Barcelona is the

residents and tourists. Montjuic is a broad shallow hill

singing of the city parrots, present in most areas, even in

overlooking Barcelona’s harbour. During the week-end

the Diagonal Palm trees.

it’s common for residents to gather there with family
and friends, to exercise or relax in its forests. The Parc
de la Ciutadella was, for many years, the city’s only green
space. Its grounds include the city zoo, the building of the
Catalan Parliament,, the museums of geology and natural
science, a winter garden, a tropical green-house, a small
lake and a large fountain. Its name it’s linked to historical
events that led to the building of a fortress in that location.
With a very central location in Barcelona, the park is very
popular among city residents who go there to relax, walk
or for a pic-nic.

However, the three urban green areas are very different


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The project narrative

The sea

The most famous and extensive beach of Barcelona

However, Barceloneta still retains the charm of the past.

hides the history of a neighborhood and a city marked

A walk through its narrow streets, observing the old

by the influence of the sea. Particularly attractive to

fishermen's houses, marked by the saltpetre of the sea,

tourists, Barceloneta beach is one of the city's greatest

is to begin a journey into the maritime past, to know, live

tourist symbols. Barcelona welcomes more than 7

and feel the life of an area that preserves the charm and

million visitors every year. In the summer, its beaches are

charisma of neighborhood life.

crowded, and Barceloneta is the most popular beach, both
for locals and tourists. It is quite normal to find many
young people there. The beach bars and restaurants on
the seafront, located directly on the beach are packed day
and night. In the afternoon, the beach chairs and bathers
give way to the Barcelona nightlife. Barcelona seafront is
the ideal route for disconnecting from the hustle and bustle
of the city and immersing oneself in the Mediterranean
atmosphere of the Barceloneta district and its beaches.
Particularly during the week-end, the Barceloneta
beaches are a place where the visitor is confronted with
an amazing number of stimuli adding to the sounds of
the sea. Mostly joyful sounds. The movement and sound
level are particularly important in the Barceloneta beach
and tend to diminish once one walks towards the Forum.
Hundreds of people of all ages walk along the beaches
chatting and laughing. Many practice sports, running or
just exercising. Many use bicycles, roller skates, skates,
etc. There are also a few rickshaws used by some tourists
to cover the 400 meter long sidewalk at the sea frontline.
On the beach itself, several groups play volleyball, others
chatt and drink. Barceloneta is a beach both of pebbles
and rough sand and, in some areas, gallets and shells.
All along the beach the fish restaurants open all day long
serving tapas, seafood, fresh fish and paellas.

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The project narrative

- 55 55

- 56 -



Part of the process of investigation is to look at concepts,

freedom of reflection and thinking, a sensory experience,

designers and artists that evoked subjects that connect

and a sense of self.

to the theme, looking at different approaches of spatial
Raw color ‘Cohesion’2 (2014) is a project presented

information and experience.

during the Dutch Design Week 2014 in Eindhoven,

Olafur Eliasson ‘Riverbed’ project (2014-2015) brings

where designers took on the challenge to work outside

the outdoors inside. The artist avoids superficial

the canvas and presented a research into the meaning of

information and features, anything that would direct

'cohesion': the interrelation between objects, materials,

expectations or reactions. The art evokes an activist

parts and dimensions. To break away from the almost

statement about environmental preservation and its

mandatory dimensions of ‘the product’ each of the

future. It’s about the intention of affecting the people

designers developed one element, a layer. Once together

beyond what they know and perceive. The installation

these layers create the foundation of a visual experiment,

immerses the viewer into an authentic landscape, in a

a spatial experience. The layers, using materials such as

very closed and private environment. There is a certain

steel, aluminium or textile, determine the detailing of the

inspiration when it comes to his personal analysis of the
cultural investigation of the cultural scenery. Eliasson's

Author:   Christian. (2014, November
30). Invertuals 4 - cohesion : Raw color. Retrieved March 31, 2021,
from https://www.formagramma.com/photography/17476/invertuals-4-cohesion-raw-color/

exhibition questions the meaning of museum experience,
and the complexities of the relationship between the
artist, the building, and the viewer. Both grand and
humble, his installation challenges expectations of
museum-goers, caught between the role of 'observers' or
of 'participants'. By exploring the process of 'inhabiting
space', Eliasson focuses the visitor's attention on the art
itself by encouraging the visitor to explore a different way
to appreciate landscapes. By creating a landscape indoors,
the artist defends this will develop a sense of freedom,
contrary to what is observed in traditional museums. All
that is left, is the experience of the space with complete

Hebert, M. (2014, December 09). Olafur Eliasson.
Retrieved March 31, 2021, from https://artreview.com/december-2014-feature-olafur-eliasson/


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person behind each screen.The overlapping of different
structures creates different effects and the subject appears
therefore in a different way. This exhibition is a prelude to
the next step, a new material, technique or insight.


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Vision is a crucial sense in acquiring spatial competences,

by different paths) at the same spatial knowledge. In fact,

in apprehending a space. Its vast perceptual field allows it

these extreme positions are both partially contradicted

to simultaneously apprehend a very large portion of near

by the facts. More nuanced interpretations better

and far space. Furthermore, vision allows to quickly and

reflect today's experimental observations in each of the

sharply identify and process a high variety of features and

considered sectors of cognitive activity.

this spatial information plays a major role in the initiation
and control of movements directed towards objects.
Hearing is also a spatial sense and allows for perception
at a distance, but it identifies the nature of objects less
well than vision. Moreover, not all objects emit sounds.
Touch, on the other hand, is a perception of contact and
its perceptive field is therefore very limited even if it can
be enlarged by exploratory movements. It is therefore less
effective than vision in the spatial domain. Consequently,
a blind person, even using other senses will have, as
compared to a sighted person, an impaired ability to
perceive and control space or to elaborate adequate spatial
representations. The theoretical problem is whether it is
possible to acquire the same spatial knowledge (and at the
same rate) by implementing modalities other than vision,
mainly touch, which is the perceptive system best able to
replace failing vision. If we consider that vision and touch
are fundamentally different, the answer to this question
will be negative and we will expect to find cognitive
deficits and different modes of representation in people
who are blind from birth. If, on the contrary, one thinks,
in line with Gibson's (1966) ideas, that the modalities by
which knowledge is acquired are not of major importance
because the information obtained is amodal (independent
of modalities), then it can be predicted that there will be
no difference in the cognitive functioning of congenitally
blind and sighted people and that both arrive (perhaps

The spatial knowledge acquired by the early blind is
exactly the same as that of the sighted. Early blindness
may therefore cause a delay in the acquisition of a
particular spatial skill, but the errors observed and the
order in which acquisitions are made are exactly the same
in the blind and the sighted. The cognitive space of the
blind is therefore no different from that of the sighted,
even if its construction is slower and requires more effort
than when the visual system is available. Early and good
quality educational care for the blind child and his or her
family are the best assets for spatial acquisition to take
place under the best conditions.
Clark-Carter, Heyes and Howarth (1986) estimated that
30% of visually impaired people in the city of Nottingham
in Great Britain do not move around outside their homes
alone. More recently, in France, the regional health
observatory of Pays de la Loire proposed a document
using data from the "Handicaps-Incapacity-Dependence"
surveys of 1998 and 1999. This survey reveals that 58%
of visually impaired adults are hindered in their outdoor
travel: 14% express a feeling of hindrance, but can
travel alone on all routes, 15% can travel alone only on
certain routes and 29% cannot travel alone. These results
largely corroborate those obtained by Clark-Carter et all.
Travelling is therefore a real source of difficulty for the

- 58 -

- 59 -


visually impaired, especially outside. The environment is
experienced as more dangerous than their home or the
surroundings of their house. Contrary to the domestic
space, which is better known and whose obstacles are
identified, the urban environment is destabilizing. These
fears are related to the importance of vision, considered
to be the spatial sense par excellence for the locomotor act
and for orientation.

- 59 -

- 60 -

Scanned by TapScanner

Scanned by TapScanner


Avoid interventions

Simply space

Cleaner space

Dangerous obstacles

Rounded facade
High corner ceiling

Smoother circuit

Think about the lower
obsacles where the street
nature might no be
adaptable for blind people

Rounding corners

Outdoor obstacles


- 61 -


Different tiles for orientations

The use of textured materials for
sensory reach and use of efficient
light and shadow are few of the key
elements to consider
Manages distance of public spaces

Different direction orientation symbols

Feel the temperature
Open space, spatial
orientation guidance

Rectangular corner

Thinking about
openings direction

Bound waves guides
the direction

Sound can become an
invaluable resource


- 62 -



This project is presented taking as an example the city
of Barcelona. The idea is to bring this new approach to
different cities and places in the world, wishing to present
an alternative, original and inclusive touristic experience.
This experiment can therefore be illustrated through
a methodological diagram that can be applied by any
touristic location to a variety of environments, providing
visitors with the understanding of some of the places’s
unique features through the senses other than sight.



- 63 -




View points to the city
Types of soil


Water density
Artificial features



Historical features

Size of buildings / city aspect




Type of transport

Ethnic origin
Music & traditions






Desert / Arctic


Cultural/ national identity

- 64 -


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Project Design

If therefore what happens from a sensitive point of view is often implicit in the experience, how can we access it
empirically, while remaining as close as possible to what is lived and experienced? I have imagined a situation where
visually-impaired or blindfolded people will walk and interact in a staged space, unknown to the participants. By
withdrawing the obvious, what could be perceived by sight, the participants will focus attention on their body,
soliciting senses that are not usually made explicit to give meaning to their experience in an explicit manner.”


- 66 -

Project Design


The city is often perceived as ‘hostile’ by people with vision

comes from the arts and entertainment and refers to the

impairments: getting around without vision is an ordeal.

art, the study and the way of organizing and setting up

Indeed, independent locomotion is a complex task in case

a stage set. The environment is not anymore a space for

of blindness, which leads a significant number of adults

living but for reflecting, for educating, for interpretation

not to leave their home alone. It is essential to understand,

or for entertainment.

prior to any analysis of the sensitive experience, which

One might not understand the difference between

could be the motivations for people to participate in the

architecture and scenography. Indeed, both are drawings

experience as well as what impact the experience might

in the form of a plan, including a section plan and

have on the participants. This reflection is not a question

elevation, often completed by a model. The difference

of adopting safeguards or a reflexive posture to limit the

lies in the fact that the stage remains a place of fiction, a

effects of the experimental situation but, on the contrary,

neutral space which leaves free rein to the imagination.

of playing with it, accompanying it fully while being
aware of what it does to the research object.

The scenographer must realize different tasks in order to

The object of research, in the framework of this design

organization of the circulation, a path which will allow

experience is thus redefined. It is about the implicitness

the participant to stop more or less on the elements

of the daily sensitive experience, in a particular spatial

which one wishes to emphasize or withdraw.

arrange the different spaces, working essentially on the

and sensitive context. There is a sensitive interconnection

The idea of the project is to design a sensorial interior space

between the environment and the participant in an

able to reveal a city's essence and identity, challenging

experience that generates a situation emphasizing the

the perception one may have through senses other than

confrontation with the unknown and the strangeness.

sight (hearing, touch, smell and taste). To illustrate this

Participants can no longer anticipate their environment

concept, the city of Barcelona is used as an example. The

without their sight (or only to a very limited extent) and
find themselves constantly challenged.

project focuses on some of the city's unique features,

Starting from the place of the senses in daily life in urban

and natural smells as well as other environments such

public spaces and the experience of the unpredictable,

as the urban green areas and the sea. This experimental

the project proposes a possible conceptual reading of the

and interactive space can be seen as an ephemeral space

deconstruction of such space, of an aesthetic destruction

or permanent/temporary exhibition that can be adapted,

of the traditional perception. One way to deconstruct

with the same methodological process, to different cities

an environment is to create a scenographic space.

around the world. It's a way of empowering a city to

Scenography is the development of a stage. This term

decide the image it wants to present, the features it wants

from architectural shape and construction to gastronomy


- 67 -

Project Design

to show-case, in an alternative and original proposal. A

and leading the tourist to hidden parts of Barcelona or to

city may wish to display it as a way to present alternative

unexpected sensations. Such space can also provide an

ways for tourists, visually impaired or not, to apprehend

educational opportunity, a safe space to learn that could

the city or, on the contrary, to display it abroad, with

also interest both young and older people. The idea is

the same objectives and as a more specific invitation

that this space and alternative concept can serve multiple

for visually impaired people to travel and visit it. In a

purposes and population groups in a totally inclusive way.

city such as Barcelona, this concept could provide an
experience for everyone to discover the essence of the city
(what ‘makes‘ Barcelona) in one space. It also provides a
different approach for non-visually impaired visitors, to
rediscover the city in an alternative touristic experience.
The intention of such a project is to give everyone a
perspective of the city different from the traditional
touristic one. It diverts people from the traditional sightseeing experience, rather challenging senses and emotions


- 68 -

Project Design

Design body language

Psychology of colours & light
For the sighted, color seems to be an obvious and indispensable
piece of information. But in reality, is it impalpable, indescribable
and completely arbitrary
For the human being, the notion of color is easy to understand; it does
not require processing, it does not result from a complex learning
process, unlike language, for example. A sighted person knows the color,
when he/she sees it. However it is more complex to explain colour to
someone who has no experience of it. Because, unlike sounds that result
only from the physical property of an object (the sound of rain, a bird
singing, the clinking of keys in a bag), color is completely arbitrary. The
sighted person dreams in color, the one who, following an accident for
example, will dream in shades of gray, while the person who is visually
impaired by birth will mobilize his other senses.
As the project’s aim is to not consider the ‘visual’ as a feature, colors
in the project will be black. This has a symbolic representation in the
conceptual approach of the project: the idea is to state that the viewer
has no choice than to be in a completely dark chamber where all his
senses, except sight, will be solicited.


- 69 -

Project Design



- 70 -


Project Design


- 71 -

Project Design

Shape experimentation
The theoretical approach to the experience foreseen is one that
combines, on one hand, a set of given/commented information provided
to participants and, on the other, the contact with the surprising, the
unknown. To temporarily deprive an individual of his or her sight within
the framework of a spatial experience or to take a visually impaired
person into such space, will lead these participants to an individual
path, developed through their individual interaction between senses
and their perceived experience. It is therefore necessary to intervene on
the environmental properties of certain spaces, in order to improve the
extraction of information allowing the identification of landmarks and
the localization, in space, of the blind person. To promote interaction
with the environment, hearing and the tactile senses are the most
relevant sensory modalities. It is important to acknowledge that some
spaces are particularly anxiety-provoking and potentially dangerous for
a person moving without seeing. These places need to benefit from an
increase in information necessary for locomotion, they have little relief
on the ground (flattened) and an improvement in their circulation area


- 72 -

Project Design

Texture and material investigation
In skin perception, the information from the mechanical deformation of
the stimulated part of the skin is encoded by cutaneous mechanoreceptors.
These cutaneous receptors are located in the different layers of the skin.
There are several types of receptors that differ in the way they respond to
skin stimulation. Consequently, each has a specific role. For example, the
so-called Merkel receptors would mainly code information on the spatial
form and texture of objects such as raised letters or Braille, whereas the
so-called Meissner receptors would mainly code movements on the skin
surface, such as the sliding of a glass held in the hand. Haptic perception
is not only dependent on the development of the sensory and motor
organs involved in exploration, but also on the general capacities of
memorization and information processing. Indeed, these capacities are
essential because it is necessary to store the data successively brought by
the hand and then to integrate them into a unified whole.
Furthermore this project’s ‘texture and material investigation’ takes
into account the relevance of the physical temperature and sensations.
From urban materials and features, touch allows us to understand the
‘atmosphere’ of a specific area in the city. The same sense is given by
the perception, through the skin, of the temperature and humidity
of a particular environment. In a city, the sensation will probably be
different in different areas, depending on the urban planning, it will
probably be different in urban residential interior areas and in the ones
close to the sea.


- 73 -

Project Design


- 74 -

Project Design

Sociological importance & trust
The city and other environments are often
perceived as ‘threatening’ by people with vision
impairments. Even in those environments where
specific helping features are present, visually impaired
people will tend to mobilise their other senses but may
still not feel comfortable or totally at ease to apprehend
information or ‘feel’ the environment they’re in. The
present project, inspired by such experience, is to give
everyone a perspective of an environment different
from the traditional one based on visual features, rather
challenging other senses. The idea is to create a safe
space where participants can explore an environment
in the dark, apprehending a different information set
than they would if sighted, a space also able to trigger
emotions, reflection, interpretation, imagination. It is
therefore important to evaluate the motivations for
people to participate in this sensitive experience as well
as what impact the experience might have on them. This
alternative experience may interest visually-impaired
people in the sense that they can get acquainted and
interested in a city or other environments, unknown
to them, through the exploration of a safe scenery or
exhibition. On the other hand, the experience may
also interest sighted people, as an alternative way
to explore an environment, challenging senses they
normally do not perceive as useful in travel contexts or
tourism exploration. The project, in fact, proposes an
alternative concept that can serve multiple purposes
and population groups in a totally inclusive way.

A relationship of trust is essential to the success of the
“blind” experience. The designer assumes a primordial
responsibility which consists, in particular, in softening
the transition for each participant into the dark sensorial
space. The first steps in a dark environment can plunge
the participants into a relatively violent world from
which they feel they cannot escape. The loss of control
over the environment, with the idea of no longer
being able to anticipate by sight and the refocusing
in soliciting their body and its other senses make the
beginnings of such experiences difficult. Some people
may be afraid to move forward and must make a real
effort to put one foot in front of the other. Sounds and
smells may provide essential information, sufficient
to orient oneself and get people to evolve safely in a
given environment. Furthermore if it is obvious that
there is a shared dimension in the experience of such
a journey, a relationship of ‘intimacy’ and, conversely,
a distancing in the way the participant may comment
on his or her own experience, How can one account for
this, but above all how can one evaluate it?


--75 -75

Project Design

- 75 -

- 76 -


- 77 -

¨The project represents a new way to explore tourism. By creating an environment where the
sense of sight cannot be used, the public is obliged to develop a new relationship, to trust the
sounds, to use the touch and smell. The idea is to bring visitors to discover the city in a complete
dark environment. This unique design project may also be interesting for impaired sighted people
as, for other, it diverges from an outdoors perspective¨


- 78 -



Experimental tourism



- 79 -



Universal design

Sensorial journey


- 80 -



Cristóbal de Moura 126, 08019, Barcelona
There is a beautiful relationship with between the
project and it’s exposing location. Utopia 126 is a space
where artist and designer can create conceptual project.
The space is use for film, video, audiovisual projects,
exhibition, etc.
The brutality of the raw materiality bring a certain
reality into the project. The broken concrete wall reminds
the metaphorical aspect of the imperfect human features


- 81 -


such as the sight. The location of the building is hided in
some way into the city of Barcelona. The industrial look of
the interior expresses a modern contrast with the urban
nature of the city of Barcelona. The idea is to include the
blind narrative space exhibition to intervene with the
interior of Utopia area.


- 82 -

Free circulation around the
experiential pathway

Directional narrative
through wall mouvement

Narrow path for a more control
Security light around the cornes
to emphesise the path way
Round shape

Hand orientation

Heating technique to bend the
glass (flexibility)

Spiral mode

Organic shape

Glass effect

Interactive and playful exterior
exbhibtion people playing with
the process of discovering the
city blind

- 83 -


Rough texture outside vs
soft texture inside

Liver shape - ¨second human

Narrative circuit
Multiple option of destination - the idea
to get lost in the city - let the senses of
the public to guide them

Different textiles materials
representing the different areas of

Diagonal ventilation
Path division into two

Bended glass effect

flat inside vs organic outside

Mutiple senses playing together
reflecting a specific atmosphere for
each area of the path

installation that is in a bigger
scale in height to create an
impact in the space

- 84 -

Location plan 1/25


- 85 -

Location plan & intervention 1/25


- 86 -


Barcelona tiles

Flexible alluminium
mesh rounded holes

Natural material


- 87 -


Concrete floor and

Electronic devices

Rounded glass


- 88 -

Conceptual plan

Exit door

Parc de la ciutadella

Soil and Grass

Arc du triomph

Audio speakers

City center

Panot tile



- 89 -

Conceptual Plan

Parc del Guinardo

Mesh wall

Barcelona Port



Exhibition Entrance


Exhibition Exit
Pedrera Tiles
Exhibition reception


- 90 -

User Experience

The exhibition allows visitors to participate in two

The circuit is created in order for the visitors to

different potential experiences. The visitors can

imagine, from a different perspective, a walk around

participate in the blind adventure going through the

the city of Barcelona. The ¨map¨ is divided into

space itself or discover and observe the perspective of

different sections and areas of Barcelona where,

the touristic activity from the outside. The experience

during the journey, there are some options allowing

can develop as follows: visitors enter the reception

the visitor to become the narrator of the journey, by

area where blindfolds are provided, so that they will

following his/her senses to move into a section or

find themselves completely in the dark inside the

area of the space, always moving forward. Along the

dark space. Furthermore, a system is also foreseen to

circuit, there are security exits from the inside to the

track each person inside the space and guide them,


preventing them from approaching another person
inside the space, telling them to stop and wait until a

The purpose of this journey is that visitors will

signal indicates to continue the journey. Once material

forget the perspective given by sight and feel the

and key information are given, the visitors go into the

environment through other senses, hearing, touch

next room, waiting for their turn to enter the dark

and smell as alternative guiding senses. The floor,

area. Meanwhile, other users can go, from a different

present in each area along the circuit, relates to

room, through the outside sections of the exhibition

different contact feelings that one can have in the

which allow them to explore the inside journey in a

city of Barcelona. The sounds are real recorded tones

‘covered’ way that represents partial blindness. The

from different parts of the city and the smell reflects

design foresees the use of a mesh material to cover

the areas’ atmosphere. The experience helps the user

and protect the exterior wall, which gives a look of

discover and be aware of its own body and enjoy a

blurriness of what goes on in the indoor experience.

unique experience in this exhibition journey.

Both experiences are part of the same objective, of
raising awareness on the power of senses and put
non blind-people into a challenging position. The
designed intervention fits the location in terms of
materials and shape and has been conceived as an
unique piece of design that fits a particular space but
can also be adapted in different locations, in different
countries. The piece is also designed taking into
account technical features for a secure circulation
allowing the visitors to feel safe.

- 91 -

User Experience


- 92 -



- 93 -



- 94 -

Light plan 1/25


- 95 -

Light plan & installation 1/20

Audio speaker
LED light

Light shield

300 cm

Outside mesh


90 cm


- 96 -



- 97 -



- 98 -

Circulation plan 1/25

Emergency exit
Outside experience circulation
Inside blind experience circulation

Indoor blind

Outside experience



- 99 -

Sections 1/30


Security camera

Audio speaker

Electric cables

Audio speaker

300 cm




Mettalic mesh

- 100 -

Exploded axonometric

Exterior mesh

Interior glass
and wall structure

Utopia 126 wall


- 101 -

Exploded axonometric attachments

Audio speakers

Surveillance camera

Flooring elements


- 102 -


- 103 -


- 104 -


- 105 -


- 106 -


- 107 -

There are very few existing studies devoting attention to the experiences of blind people in
traveling contexts. This lack of attention is surprising, because of the considerable size of the global
blind population. Blind people often travel accompanied by others and, during group travels, the
presence of blind people may affect the travel patterns and itineraries of their fellow travelers. On
the other hand, there is, at least in the EU, legislation requiring organizations and companies to
offer accessibility to all members of society, particularly to people with disabilities, and countries
recognize travel as a social right and a contribution to the well-being of all members of society.
It seems therefore important that both researchers and practitioners investigate blind people’s
tourism experience in terms of theory and practice. Blind Tourism as the term implies, deals
directly with the perception and needs of the blind and visually-impaired regarding traveling and
any type of touristic experience. This project intends to look into the possibility of promoting
inclusion for people suffering from some form of visual impairment in order to give them access
to original travel experiences in tourism destinations. Furthermore, and although the project is
based on the visually impaired population needs, it intends to follow the principle that design
should be universal and therefore, able to benefit or interest a wide range of populations. Therefore,
Inspired by the sensorial experience of visually -impaired people, this project proposes the design
of a sensorial interior space, able to reveal a different perspective of a city’s identity challenging
the perception one may have through senses other than sight. The idea is that, excluding visual
features, a sensorial journey may allow visitors to better apprehend, in a different way, the ‘soul’
of a city. The proposed ephemeral space or permanent/temporary exhibition can be adapted,
with the same methodological process, to different cities around the world allowing them to
decide the image they want to present, the features they want to show-case, in an alternative and
original touristic proposal. The project provides a different approach both for visually and nonvisually impaired visitors, to rediscover the city in an alternative touristic experience.


- 108 -

Construction details

Aluminum ceiling
LED Light cold white

Outdoor exhibition

Indoor exhibition

Double Glass panel




8 cm

3 cm
Alluminium mullion

- 109 -

Construction details

Empty space for
electronical cables

Lader access

Electrical maintainance from
the ceiling

Indoor exhibition

Outdoor exhibition


- 110 -

Intervention plan & measurements 1/20


- Plan Uto

opia 126 0 (A3)

- 111 -

Intervention plan & measurements 1/20


- 112 -


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