Todas las entradas de: UNI-Health

UNI-Health starts in Madrid!

Last Monday we had the pleasure to start the program UNI-Health in Madrid, at the School of Architecture of the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid.

From this week until April, we will be covering different problematics and topics related with urban health, active and healthy ageing, climate change and citizen participation.

Professor Ester Higueras inaugurated the course, explaining the EIT Health European program and UNI-Health project, in collaboration with Newcastle University.

For the first session, we had the honour to have Professor José Fariña as spokesman. He contextualized the problem of health in cities and he introduced the main aspects that urban planning should focus on nowadays in order to create healthier environments:

  • Cities for walk
  • Nature in the city
  • Spaces for meeting and exchange

Source: UNI-Health Team Photography

After sharing lunch together to start meeting each others, in the afternoon we had two interesting presentations.

Gonzalo Navarrete, architect from Estudio Improvistos, explained us the methodology they have developed for the Urban Renovation Areas in Madrid. They have proposed a set of guidelines and actions aiming to improve the conditions for climatic comfort and livable spaces through the Program of Urban Renovation.


Then, Marcos Montes, architect from GEA21 showed us the projects of a couple of areas in deeper detail in Usera district. The design of a urban project is not easy, taking into account all the aspects that the Renovation Plan suggested, assuring accessibility, bioclimatic comfort and improving quality of public spaces.

Usera main renovation projects. 


At the end of the session, Professor Emilia Román explained the dynamic of the workshop we are going to follow during the next weeks. A group of 18 students with different profiles have engaged this first edition of the innovative program focusing on URBAN HEALTH and ACTIVE AGEING.

We all hope to create a unique environment of exchange knowledge and multiple points of view for this common issue which is URBAN HEALTH and how to create AGE-FRIENDLY ENVIRONMENTS for all.

See you next week!

UNI-Health Team


Colaboradores, compañeros/as y participantes de UNI-Health,

Queremos compartir con todas las personas que nos estáis siguiendo y acompañando en este proyecto los avances más recientes!

Esta semana hemos cerrado con éxito la primera edición anual del proyecto UNI-Health con el evento del festival en Newcastle, una jornada de networking que se ha centrado en soluciones basadas en la naturaleza y la salud urbana. Los estudiantes del seminario celebrado en Octubre en Newcastle también compartieron y publicaron sus trabajos. Pronto publicaremos los resultados del evento en nuestras redes.

Por otra parte, en la Escuela de Arquitectura de Madrid (ETSAM) de la Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, tendremos el mes de diciembre dedicado al ODS Nº3 Salud y bienestar. Con ese motivo vamos a presentar los resultados del proyecto UNI-Heath, que hemos desarrollado varias investigadoras sobre “Salud y urbanismo: envejecimiento activo”. El proyecto UNI-Health ha estructurado una red de investigadores de varias disciplinas, de profesores de urbanismo, sociólogos, ambientalistas, psicólogos ambientales, médicos de medicina preventiva, epidemiólogos y arquitectos, bajo el objetivo de mejorar los espacios públicos de las ciudades desde el envejecimiento activo. El miércoles 04 de diciembre a las 11,30 en la sala de grados b de la ETSAM, se van a presentar los resultados del proyecto en el barrio madrileño de Usera, gracias a la actividad colaborativa entre los estudiantes de posgrado, los expertos, los servicios sociales de la Junta Municipal de Usera y la Mesa de Mayores de Usera.

Los resultados se estructuran mediante la metodología de un Plan de Acción Local, con tres grandes líneas estratégicas: un barrio para caminar; más verde en el barrio de Usera, y nuevos espacios de convivencia intergeneracional. Estas lineas han sido presentadas como “Criterios de Diseño Urbano para barrios más saludables” en la Federación Española de Municipios y Provincias gracias al convenio de colaboración entre el Ministerio de Sanidad, la Universidad Politécnica de Madrid y la FEMP, bajo la dirección de José Fariña, Ester Higueras y Emilia Román.

La responsabilidad de transformar, adaptar y crear espacios más amigables con las personas mayores se abre como una linea de investigación preferente en numerosas disciplinas.
Nos gustaría contar con vosotros para ese momento, si estuvierais disponibles.

Además, en paralelo, parte del equipo estará la semana que viene en París durante los eventos EIT Health Summit y Matchmaking para publicar nuestra nueva convocatoria para el próximo proyecto EIT Health BP 2021. Estamos buscando colaboradores y socios para aumentar esta red y volver a reaplicar UNI-Health en otras ciudades y contextos urbanos y presentar nuevos proyectos para hacer frente a los retos de la salud en las ciudades del siglo XXI. En este próximo año 2020 nos gustaría fortalecer nuestra red con agentes interesados en salud urbana, datos de salud y soluciones basadas en la naturaleza.


–  Blogs del proyecto: y

–  Vídeo resumen –  Presentación proyecto:

–  Rutas UNI-Health:

–  Story-Map:

Esperamos coincidir con todas vosotras pronto!

Un abrazo,

Equipo del proyecto UNI-Health 2019
Ester Higueras, Emilia Román, Cristina Gallego y Elisa Pozo
Universidad Politécnica de Madrid


Dear partners, colleagues and participants of UNI-Health,

We are happy to share with all you the recent advances of the UNI-Health project.

We have successfully closed the first year edition with the networking festival at Newcastle to share innovative projects and ideas on nature-based solutions and urban health. Students have also shown their works of the Newcastle seminar edition celebrated on October. We will publish soon all the results on our sites.

On the other hand, in the School of Architecture (ETSAM) of Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, we will dedicate the whole month of December to the SDG Nº3 Good Health and Well-Being. UNI-Health project has created a networking of multidisciplinar researchers, urban professors, sociologists, environmentalists, psychologists, preventive care doctors, epidemiologists and architects. The main and common objective is to improve the public spaces in the cities from the perspective of active ageing. Next Wednesday 4th of December at 11:30h at “Sala Grados B” we will present the results of the project in Usera district in Madrid. This project has been developed thanks to the collaborative activity between post-degree students, experts, social services of District Council of Usera and Older People Council of Usera.

The results are structured following a Local Action Plan methodology, with three main strategic lines: a walkable neighborhood, greening Usera district and new spaces for conviviality and intergenerational meeting. These lines have been presented as “Urban Design Criteria for Healthier Neighborhoods” in the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces (FEMP) thanks to a collaboration between Health Ministery, FEMP and Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. This work has been directed by José Fariña, Ester Higueras and Emilia Román.

Responsability and compromise of transform, adapt and create friendlier spaces with older people is a shared research line that is getting attention as a key topic in different fields. We would like to invite you all to this presentation.

Additionally, next week we will be in Paris for the EIT Health Summit and Matchmaking Events to publish our open call for next EIT Health BP 2021. We are looking for new partners to increase this network, replicate UNI-Health in another cities and urban contexts and prepare new projects together. For this following year 2020 we would also welcome interested agents on health data and Nature-based solutions in order to reinforce the current network and try to support existing projects.


–  Blogs of the project: and

–  Videos of the first edition in Madrid:

–  UNI-Health Itinerary:

–  Story-Map:

Hope to meet you soon!

Best regards,

UNI-Health 2019 Madrid Project Team
Ester Higueras, Emilia Román, Cristina Gallego y Elisa Pozo
Universidad Politécnica de Madrid

Newcastle review!

NEW!!! The video of the intensive week program about Green & Blue infrastructure can be checked out at >>

This last week we finally enjoyed the second edition of UNI-Health program held in Newcastle University! The topic of this very special week was green and blue infrastructure for health promotion. Students from University of Newcastle and from Universidad Politécnica de Madrid and VOICE members engaged this course about design with nature and citizen engagement to generate more resilient and healthier communities.

The course was celebrated from Monday until Thursday, organized in presentations and field trips and then, on Friday, students presented their works in the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape.

UNI-Health second edition inaugurated by Professor Adam Sharr.

Dr. Dominic Aitken took us throughout the complete week programme and Professor Tim Townshend started the week explaining the concept of Natural Environments and Health.

Professor Tim Townshed’s presentation.

A couple of new projects in Newcastle were also shown during this very first session. First of all, South Seaham, a Garden Village conceived for all the ages, as an example of new development that could bring together intergenerational housing promotions and common green spaces to meet as a natural infrastructure.

South Seaham plan. A brief review can be found in this link.

Landscape Designer Carwyn Thomas continued the journey with a couple of pop-up examples he has developed in Newcastle City: Grey Street green and a beach at the Quayside of Tyne river. In both cases, he has achieved to conceive comfortable and attractive spaces where people stop and meet while enjoying a meal or drink all together.

Quayside Seaside by Carwyn Thomas. More information through this link.

Monday ended with a brief introduction by Zoe Webb from ARUP (Newcastle) of the proposed site for Blackett Street renovation.
View of Monument Station from Grey Street. More information in this link.

Tuesday was dedicated to citizen engagement projects in which nature played a significant role. Greenering Wingrove is an interesting project where trash in common spaces was degradating the image and the life of a neighborhood. When streets introduced green for the very first time, neighbors started to care of their public spaces and then, little by little, urban gardens and community projects started to create a strong connection between inhabitants.

Another interesting project was Byker, designed by R. Erskine by the end of 60s. Its development incorporated an interesting methodology with participation dynamics to work with local neighbors and promote social cohesion. Nowadays, many cultural and arts projects are beig developed in this community. To get the principal ideas, you can check this link.

Visit to Byker project on Saturday by Universidad Politécnica de Madrid Team.

To finish the morning, the Comfrey Project showed us how easy can be to integrate new members of community through gardening in allotments. Activities in open air, taking care of the vegetables, developing trust within the community and exchange and share with volunteers and visitors is a inclusive way to engage new habitants of the surroundings and migrants that don’t have social networks yet.

The field trip during the afternoon consisted on visiting Whitley Bay and it’s Community wildlife Garden, accompanied buy the yoga center, little cafe and local markets that happen regularly. This interesting project has been possible thanks you to a concession of the manager of the Station Master to have a free open space for community and education about agroecological education.

Wednesday was dedicated to explore the work of our partners ARUP in UK. Dan Wales and Zoe Webb explained the concept of green infrastructure and the benefits in terms of health and economic possitive impact it has on the retail activities where it is integrated.

On the second part of the lectures, Barbara Hooper described the activities that have been developed by the Allotments Trust, a charity that manages green spaces in Newcastle and works in partnership with its citizens. The result is an interesting example of innovative management of urban equipment and green areas and, somehow, a way to raise awareness about green spaces and their importance to our well-being and health.

The field trip consisted on a pleasant walk around Gateshead’s Whitehills Carbon Park. Local ecologists explained us the different programs they were carrying on to promote health through this kind of natural environments, as well as preserving biodiversity.

Finally, on Thursday, Spanish team presented different topics connected by water as main topic. Elisa Pozo introduced the importance and challenge of drinkable water nowadays, as green infrastructure can’t forget its base for growth and richness. Asier from ARUP Madrid explained briefly the main characteristic of a Sustainable Urban Drainage Solution (SUDs) to learn how to use it according to the different climates and contexts. Finally, the morning session finished with Profesor Francisco Fernández Laumiquiz explaining methodologies and urban designs he had accomplished in Madrid and evaluated the impact in terms of socioeconomic activty.

Friday was dedicated to students’ workshop so at the end of the afternoon we all met at the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape of University of Newcastle to see and comment their work. The results were ashtonishing! Motivation and hard work of students resulted on several interesting fresh ideas for Blacket Street! Fresh is the word, indeed! Newcastle’s city center lacks of green and many of its beautiful streets are overcrowded by cars, making the public space discontinuous, risky and tough for pedestrians. All the proposals contemplated green as part of the solution to encourage healthy habits and promote culture and active lifestyles through a walkable and comfortable city center.

VOICE member reviewing the results of the students.

Thank you very much to our partners in Newcastle to such a lovely and inspiring experience! We are looking forward for the festival to share these ideas of green and blue infrastructure with companies and local communities!

Streets from Usera full of garbage

News today about the unhealthy conditions of the streets in Usera. We have already seen the problems in the neighborhood about the bad maintenance and lack of responsability regarding dog’s excrements or locating garbage containers just in the middle of pedestrian crossings and paths. Small actions that could make a big different on the image of the neighborhood.–20190702080430.html

La atención a las personas mayores, clave en la planificación de las ciudades del futuro

El informe “Cities Alive: Designing for Ageing Communities” publicado por la empresa ARUP, consultora internacional socia en el proyecto UNI-Health, pone de relieve la necesidad de que el conjunto de planificadores, diseñadores y autoridades locales aboguen por modelos de ciudad que incorporen medidas para adaptarse a las necesidades de las personas mayores.

Las cuatro estrategias que se identifican son: independencia, salud y bienestar, conectividad social y seguridad y resiliencia (noticia completa aquí).

Estas cuatro líneas de trabajo se integran en las tres estrategias que desde UNI-Health estamos desarrollando en el grupo de investigación:

  • Ciudades para pasear: una ciudad que permita pasear, salir a la calle, encontrarse con los vecinos del barrio, hacer la compra o ir a una cafetería, es una ciudad que favorece la independencia de las personas y la autonomía no solo de las personas mayores, si no también de niños y niñas, personas con discapacidad y mejora la seguridad y accesibilidad en cuestión de movilidad.
  • La naturaleza en la ciudad: están demostrados los beneficios que los espacios verdes tienen sobre nuestra salud, desde la reducción del estrés, calidad del aire e incluso está relacionado con los índices de obesidad y sobrepeso en función de la distancia a la que exista un parque de nuestras viviendas y espacios de trabajo. Los espacios verdes constituyen además el lugar de encuentro predilecto para distintas generaciones, favoreciendo lugares de encuentro y actividades abiertas a distintos grupos culturales, deportivos y comunitarios. Por otra parte, también está demostrada la influencia que tienen en la reducción de los niveles de contaminación y la necesidad de incorporar espacios naturales y soluciones técnicas vegetales en las ciudades, para asegurar la resiliencia de éstas frente a los efectos del cambio climático y la isla de calor urbana.
  • Espacios de convivencia: plazas, parques, espacios estanciales de proximidad, seguros, confortables y adaptados para todos los usuarios son necesarios en términos de seguridad, cohesión social y salud. Uno de los mayores problemas de las personas mayores es la soledad no deseada, problema que en grandes metrópolis afecta también a jóvenes, y guarda una relación directa con problemas de estrés, insomnio y depresión. Estos espacios son necesarios, pero para que cumplan su función, han de ser diseñados con ciertos criterios que inviten a la gente a sentarse, encontrarse y disfrutar de la compañía de los demás.

Los beneficios de un diseño inclusivo que responda a las necesidades de los sectores de la población más vulnerables (principalmente personas mayores, personas dependientes, personas con discapacidad, infancia y mujeres, sobre todo en estado de gestación) permiten la creación de espacios inclusivos y saludables para toda la población.

UNI-Health finally arrived to Usera District on June! (Part III)

The festival ended with a workshop session with companies, start-ups and researchers to meet common interests and strategic lines towards healthier cities.

Our partners from Newcastle presented the innovative ideas they are developing at the National Innovation Centre of Ageing. They are focusing on adaptive design and innovation pilot projects of ergonomic furniture, facilities and housing alternatives. PhD Dominic Aitken presented the main results of an interesting work about housing alternatives for elderly and how the whole services of cities have to start adapting offer to this heterogeneous sector of the population. Integrating Elderly VOICE in decission-making and design process puts the focus of the Person-Centered Methodology applied to product and service design, towards more inclusive communities.

The different companies and start-ups explained their products and innovation projects to improve urban spaces. We covered topics such as pavements and accessibility, nature-based solutions, sensors and monitoring, data visualisation and urban renovation.

The presentations showed diverse solutions that are innovating towards healthier
and more sustainable environments and urban spaces.

The session continued with a workshop dynamic to think about further research and product design in the three strategic lines we are considering for healthier cities:

  • Walkable streets
  • Nature in cities
  • Spaces of conviviality

The groups were heterogeneous in order to mix all points of view, including international scope, researchers, companies and health professionals. The results showed the possibilities for different sectors in order to develop new services and products that can answer to the new requirements for our neighborhoods, demographic new challenges and cities.

The results were collected in three strategic lines, available in the exhibition and will open new paths for collaborations, I+D projects and innovative solutions.

UNI-Health Workshop results with companies, health professionals and researchers.

We want to thank you all the participation and support of the following companies and institutions that joined this session:

UNI-Health finally arrived to Usera District on June! (Part II)

Thursday evening we had the presentation of the results of the seminars in Usera District Council. UNI-Health and MAyAB students presented their work to the citizens of the neighborhood, the Social Services team, Madrid Salud and the different representants of associations as well as other collaborators and interested partners that joined us.

UNI-Health presentation for local agents in Usera District Council.

UNI-Health program was introduced by the Director of the project, Prof. Ester Higueras from Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. The strategic lines that have been studied during this first edition “Active Ageing Cities” were:

  • Streets for walking
  • Nature in the city
  • Spaces for conviviality

Under these three main topics, students explained the diagnosis developed during these past months about thermal comfort, heat island effect, noise pollution, maintenance of green areas, social equipments and services, transportation system, etc.

UNI-Health students explaining the proposals to make Usera greener and healthier.

Students from Master of Bioclimatic Architecture and Environment (MAyAB) also participated to complete the proposals for improving the healthy spaces in the neighborhood. Prof. Teresa Eiroa and Emilia Román presented the main objectives of this first reapplication of UNI-Health methodology adapted to the master program. In this context, students were asked to create proposals under the structure “Agenda 21” and action lines towards the same three strategies mentioned above.

MAyAB reapplication of the UNI-Health methodology
in order to consider health issues in urban renovation strategies.

Many strategies and ideas were highlighted, from the big boulevards that will require further definition for the projects to the little call-to-action proposals such as competitions for greening the balconies or tactical urbanism ideas to introduce improvements from a very first moment and start to raise awareness.

Cristina Gallego and Elisa Pozo, coordinators of the project, highlighted the aim of developing this research and reinforce connections with the neighborhood and local agents.

The event finished in the exhibition hall to show all the results of this program, where we met with neighbors and associations and start thinking about further development and research.

UNI-Health finally arrived to Usera District on June! (Part I)

UNI-Health Team. Itinerary to think about green connectivity in the most dense tissue of the district.

Thursday morning we visited the neighborhood with some of the representants of the Elderly Council, our Newcastle partners and students and UNI-Health ones. The main object of this itinerary was to analyse the connections of green areas in the north part of the district (Almendrales-Moscardó). We started our trip in front of Mercado de Usera (Usera Metro Station) and continue our way through the street Marcelo Usera until we reached Olof Palme Park. At this point, we made a little stop to talk about the things we have notices in this walk. First, it was very interesting to notice how green spaces are usually percieved as fresh and healthy areas, whereas this district is surrounded by the main pollutant roads of Madrid plus the Heat Island Effect, that increase the problems associated to air quality and heat stress. The street of Marcelo Usera was perceived as noisy and dirty, but the shops and activity were identified as interesting and vibrant points to be maintainted and reinforced, maybe with more pedestrian places to stay and sit. The elderly completed this perception with some interesting information about some of the spaces and services that are still in the neighborhood after more than 50 years.

The lack of accessibility in this neighborhood is evident and it supposes a challenge. However, this might be something to be solved by technicians but there are other problems in the neighborhood that could automatically change some of the mayor health problems. The lack of responsability for the dog’s poo are one of the main problems in the public space, not only parks and gardens, but streets and squares. This issue appeals to the responsability of the whole community, but some additional measures could be implemented in order to make the behaviour change faster, such as fines.

We continue our trip down park Olof Palme, direction Evangelios Daycare Center. Some spaces such as the Hydrogen Square were evaluated. In this case, it was ashtonishing to see still old phone boxes structures that now just take out space and vissibility. The lack of green spaces and comfortable places to stay is evident. This Square is in fact a crossroad, noisy and unsecure because of the cars.

Continuing down the street Dolores Barranco, we continue to find the same problem of pavements and pedestrian areas, bollards that are also everywhere (in order to avoid cars occupying the space but making it also dangerous to walk) and pedestrian crossings occupied by garbage containers and cars. In any case, everybody showed optimistic about the amount of diverse spaces that appear suddenly in the neighborhood and that could be transformed into a nice staying area to stay in. The rich diversity of cultures of the neighborhood is evident and these spaces could be a great intercultural and intergenerational meeting point.

Finally, we finished our morning trip visiting the Elderly Social Center of Evangelios. There we were welcome by the staff and direction team to explain all the activities and services the elderly have in this center. There were some interesting activities in collaboration with schools and high school centers to promote intergenerational meetings in an exchange session about philosophy, history and psychology, for example. Also a nice initiative that is getting attention is the creation of a urban garden in one of the schools but open to all the associations in the neighborhood, so everybody can take care of this communitary green place.

UNI-Health Teams in front of Evangelios Elderly Social Center

Prevención del envejecimiento imaginario

Previniendo el envejecimiento imaginario

Os invitamos a escuchar a la doctora Paloma Navas en esta charla de TEDx Madrid (Septiembre 2017) donde cuestiona el concepto de envejecimiento, resaltando la importancia que tiene en el envejecimiento activo unos buenos hábitos de vida saludables.

Hace especial hincapié en la importancia de los BARRIOS y los ENTORNOS SALUDABLES, además de las relaciones entre los vecinos y vecinas. Es un complemento muy interesante a los temas tratados durante el curso.

Podéis encontrar más información en su blog:

Esperamos que lo disfrutéis!

UNI-Health Team