Archivo de la categoría: SEMINARS

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

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!

DIAGNOSIS RESULTS by students and FEEDBACK from elderly and experts

Hello to everybody!!!

Last monday 8th April we closed this first seminar of UNI-Health, with a public presentation of the DIAGNOSIS of the neighborhood by students to the Elderly Local Forum of Usera, the Direction of different day-care centers and representant of Social Services of Usera district. We counted as well with our guests from Newcastle University, professor Rose Gilroy and Barbara Douglas and the participation of many experts that have been collaborating with us in this first edition.

UNI-Health Directors with Usera representants: Usera District Council, Elderly Local Forum and Direction of Day-Care Centers.

Students presented by topic groups the diagnosis of the neighborhood, showing all the cartographies and main conclusions about different aspects to take into account regarding urban health. Three main topics were presented: a city to walk, green spaces and spaces for convivence and livability.

SWOT analysis, diagnosis and conclussions from students.

The feedback from the different people from the public was very convenient to consider their daily lives in the analysis and complete the diagnosis with relevant information that they have shared. In the next step, we will work on some strategic proposals to address urban health and active ageing from urban design and urban planning.

Representants from the Elderly Forum of Usera showing relevant information about their neighborhood.

Thanks to the students for this big final effort for the presentations and thank to everybody that came to the presentation. It has been such an interesting exchange! We will come back with news and updates for the preparation of the festival next June 20th and 21st in Usera!

Last but not least, thank you to everybody that have been following UNI-Health program during these months!

Barbara Douglas and Rose Gilroy, from Newcastle, commenting their suggestions for the proposals and what could be done to complete the diagnosis.

You can access all the presentations of the course through this Youtube Channel:

Please do not hesitate to share this blog, leave a comment or suggestions and contact us if you would like more information about next editions and Newcastle edition next October!

Letter of Barbara Douglas, member of the Elders Council in UK and member of VOICE:

It has been a real pleasure and a privilege to be involved in this project. 

I was very impressed with the quality of the presentations by the students and the range and depth of data they presented.  Although they came from different perspectives, a number of common themes were emerging which could provide an opportunity for collaboration between the groups as they move towards suggested projects/solutions.  It was great to have the opportunity to go to Usera and see it for ourselves, as it put all the presentations in context.

I appreciate the challenges which you face in accessing health data (e.g. healthy life expectancy; prevalence of diseases) within the timescales of the project.  This must be quite frustrating for you, as if this were coupled with the data the students have collected, it would make a very powerful argument for change and improvement.  I meant to ask whether you can access social care data which would give you information about the numbers of people who need social care support to enable them to live independently?  It would at least give a bit of additional information about the lives of older people living in the area.

I know the older people mentioned the issue of transport across the district given the length of time it takes some of them to walk to health or community facilities, especially given the topography of the area.  I fully appreciate that for people with mobility issues, the lack of transport can be absolutely critical in enabling them to get out about.  However, I also wondered whether, if the walking routes were more pleasant and people had incentives to walk to maintain/improve their health, there might be an opportunity in this for a walking group/programme? This idea probably won’t be popular with the older people, but I am also mindful of the big posters we saw in the Metro about the need for more physical activity!  Would there be any help or investment from the public health department in supporting this?

It was interesting to hear about the large numbers of festivals in the area and how these can provide an opportunity for the different cultures in Usera to come together.  I was wondering whether these might provide an opportunity for creative engagement of the people in the neighbourhood around the issues you have identified?

The exhibition/festival that you are planning sounds really good.  You mentioned inviting local people and holding a session for businesses, however, I wonder whether you will also be engaging local associations and NGOs working in the area as they may also be very helpful partners in taking ideas forward locally.   As Rose mentioned, it would be good to have a few ‘quick wins’ which would help to build the confidence of people living in working in the area that change can happen.

Whilst what you have presented is quite a big challenge, the research and analysis the students have done so far is very rich material for the Municipality and others to use in making arguments for change and improvement.   So it seems to me that you have already created a very valuable resource, as well as giving students a very broad and rich experience.  All the very best for the next stage of the project.

Thank you for your warm hospitality and for all the inspiration.

Thanks to you, Barbara and Rose, for accompanying us in such an interesting session!

UNI-Health Team


Epidemiology cartographies and the perspective of the elderly in the city

Hello to everybody!

Last monday 25th April we started the day with Andrés Iriso from Dirección General de Salud  Pública de la Consejería de Sanidad (Comunidad de Madrid). He showed us different methodologies to visualise on maps health data on epidemiology studies.

First cases of public health georreferenced studies are the ones from doctor Snow in 1854 in London, to identify the origin of different cholera epidemics.

Nowadays, the main challenge is to obtain the precise data with the specific location, moreover with the data protection policies that make it very restrictive to get any data addressing health issues. There are several techniques to analyse this data from health indicators and it is important to know to read the data, as one single value can alter the proportion and rates if we are working with low densities references.

Andrés Iriso showing different study cases he had developed in his research group.

After the break, Fidel Revilla, president from Universidad de Mayores Experiencia Recíproca (UMER) explained to us the “Madrid Age-Friendly City Plan” from the point of view of the elderly who had contributed and participated in its first diagnosis part.

Some of the identified problems in the first diagnosis document of this strategic plan were not taken into high priority consideration in the action plan document.

Fidel Revilla explaining the main intervention axes of the Age-Friendly City Plan.

The main idea that Fidel defended was to be aware of the importance of making the elderly active part of all the participation process and projects that are happening in the city.

Next week we will finish our seminar program with a presentation led by ESRI and then, the visit to the ARUP laboratory! We are looking forward to meet you all there!

UNI-Healh Team


Data Visualisation for Urban Environments

Hello to everybody!!

We started the day today with a review of some informatic tools by Elisa Pozo, architect and urban planner by Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. The interest of this overview is to help us to visualize the data we are using for analyse of health data and elements that configure the urban environment, such as air pollution values, radiation, or other kind of data applied for territories or open urban spaces.

There are several tools that offer us the possibility of visualising all kind of data, such as GIS or other public platforms as cartodb. In this context, we have introduced some methodologies to work with visual programming software and different tools that offer us the possibility to get data and how to visualize it as well as construct our own data and then work with it.

Some of the examples we have brought today have been natural drainage, air pollution visualisation, radiation and cast shadows analysis.

Elisa Pozo showing a small demo of how to build 3D models and data visualization.

In the afternoon we have the presentation of the advances of the students. We had a review of all the analysis and information they are developing for the workshop and some feedback from our coordination team.

We continue our work for the final presentation on 8th April!

Next week we will have the experience of participatory processes and ageing!

See you next monday!

UNI-Health Team

Environmental Psychology and Universal Accessibility

Hello to everybody!!

Today we have started the morning with a very interesting talk about environmental psychology and how the places affect us once we have built the places. Professor Antonio Corraliza, from Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, explained to us the importance of the built environment not only for feeling comfortable and safe, but also to influence in our moods and behaviour. He told us several experiments and case studies that have shown how people react or behave depending on the built environment.

Also he explained some study cases to show evidence on the benefits of urban nature spaces in our physical and mental health, considering all the ages.

Professor Corraliza explaining health from the point of view of psychology.

Finally, we went by the main qualities that a space should take into consideration in order to be “age-friendly”, according to the “environmental psychogerontology” and the main problems we should think about when we work with the elderly: loneliness.

In the second part of the seminar, Carlos Rodriguez, from CEAPAT, took us across many cities and public spaces from the point of view of the elderly and handicapped people. We found out the main difficulties that the elderly face when they decide to go out to the streets. In many cities we find problems with  slopes, stairs, slippery pavements, “accessible” paths in public spaces that lead to nowhere.

Other elements of the urban furniture should also be considered. For example, for a correct bank design, the height and width of the seat should be properly designed in order to consider the right ergonomy for the elderly. It is necessary that they are comfortable, but the elderly have many other requirements such as proper armrests.

The fountains and toilettes are very important for the elderly, as we have seen in previous session, they might need to go to toilet more often and be hydrated constantly, moreover during the summer.

Also, post box, garbage containers, lightning posts… they are elements that need to be considered and correctly placed in the public space in order not to disturb the pedestrian paths.

Carlos Rodriguez showing the quality of a comfortable walkable space.

Last, but not least, the importance of segregated cycling lanes. We have to remember that the pedestrian areas should be protected and assured and it is not compatible with cycling traffic when it is not leisure but urban traffic.

After the session, we went to Usera neighborhood again, in order to study again the qualities of the public space, looking through our new “glasses” of accessibility as we were in wheel chair or not being able to go up or down steps. The neighborhood has all the difficulties that we can imagine: pedestrian crossings not adapted, other ones that lead to no safe path, cars occupying the streets, even on the pedestrian areas, parks without any accessible way,  trees invading and breaking the pavements… There was a big lack of continuity in pedestrian pathways.

Evidence shows the slope exceeds the accessible 2%.

At the evening, the big containers are already full. They continue to interrupt the walkable paths, the smell is nasty and unhealthy and they are located in the wrong possition to enable their easy opening.

Next session we will learn practical tools to be able to represent graphically the analysis we have developed!

Looking forward to meet you next Monday!

UNI-Health Team

Practical Approach. Data Analysis and Projects

Hello to everybody!!

This week we have the opportunity to have a look to the implementation of healthy aspects when we talk about design and operational features of projects and also a practical approach to measuring and monitoring data in a real case study.

We started the day with the presentation of Susana Saiz, associate director of ARUP in Madrid. She introduced the WELL Building Standard methodology. Considering we spend more of a 90% of our lifetime in indoor spaces, we have to be aware that there are several features that influence health and well-being. These features are taken into consideration by the WELL Building Standard and it compilates several issues that shall be accomplished for the indoor quality.

Air quality, noise levels, temperature comfort, lighting regulation to accompany circandian rhythms, availability of good quality food, spaces for fitness and for distress and relax are some of the features that have been explored during this presentation illustrated with examples.

Susana Saiz introducing the features of WELL Building Standard methodology.

Also, a brief introduction to Social Return on Investment methodology was also presented. An interesting methodology useful to value the importance of the intangible features while the implementation or development of a project.

In the afternoon, professor Emilia Román, from Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, presented the project MODIFICA, a research study in which she participated with ABIO Research group. The main objective of this research was to measure and analyse the evolution of the Urban Heat Island Effect in Madrid. Based in the previous research “El clima urbano de Madrid: la isla de calor” (López Gómez et al., 1988), they measured the difference of temperatures along three principal axes across Madrid.

This research has revealed the increase of temperatures inside the city during the last decades due to the reduction of natural surfaces. Madrid is a community that suffers a lack of natural areas and the consequences of this massive urbanisation growth have led to an important impact in climate conditions.

Professor Emilia Román showed us the research taken place in Madrid for analysing Urban Heat Island Effect.

Through several data measuring and then an interpolation process, they have obtained a cartography that shows the differences of temperatures and the heat island effect for the different areas of the city. It is remarquable the evidence of green spaces and natural areas in city center to contribute to the mitigation of this effect.

The problems associated to this urban heat island are multiples but, in the case of Usera neighborhood, the research revealed that this area had a greater impact. The structure of the demography (mainly elderly) and the poor housing conditions, make this neighborhood more vulnerable to this effect.

At the end of the session we shared the advances of some of the workshop groups and their SWOT analysis on their topics. We will continue next session with this review!

Group 3 first approach to the SWOT analysis of the neighborhood based on green areas and green and blue infrastructure.

Group 2 showed the main weaknesses of accesibility and spaces for walking for the elderly.

Group 1 presented us the main problems linked to thermal and noise comfort, security and identity in this neighborhood.

Also, next week we we will be introduced to the concept of environmental psychology and then visit again the neighborhood accompanied by an expert on accessibility and elderly needs!

Meet you next Monday!

UNI-Health Team

Public spaces for the elderly

Hello to everybody!

After the first visit to Usera during the morning, we continued the seminars in the afternoon.

First, Professor Ester Higueras showed us the importance of a bioclimatic approach in order to design spaces for the elderly. It is needed special attention on the elements of design in order to assure comfort conditions for this sector of the population.

Professor Ester Higueras explaining the bioclimatic charts and strategies for designing comfort public spaces.

There are many elements that we can include in order to design a high quality open space, such as shadow protections, radiation areas, wind barriers, fountains and water elements for refresh the environment in summer, deciduous trees, pergolas or vegetation.

It is important the previous analysis of the climate parameters that define the main characteristics for the spatial study case.

Then, Dra. Cristina Gallego showed us the importance of taking into consideration the perspective of gender in the policies, planning and action. In this context, she focused on the main challenges of the city from the point of view of the care function, active aging and how to address analysis taking into account gender perspective.

Dra. Cristina Gallego introducing the gender perspective when talking about active aging.

We finished the day with some time for sharing ideas for the workshop first activity, which will help us to collect innovative start-ups, apps, IT, technogical and material solutions, etc that contribute to improve the public space from the perspective of active aging for the elderly.

Next Monday we will welcome our guests from Newcastle who will share their local experiences and research with us!

Looking forward to meet you all!

Climate Change and Health

Hello to everybody!

In this week we have met Dra. Cristina Linares, from Instituto de Salud Carlos III, who has explained us the consequences of climate change on health. After a general overview about the principal effects associated with climate change, we could understood why it is a greater challenge in urban context. Pollution and Heat Island Effect aggravate this problem.

Dra. Cristina Linares explaining the consequences of climate change and its effects on health.

We can also find higher risk and mortality rates amongst the most vulnerable groups of the population: elderly, women, children, people with some level of dependency, pregnant women.

It has been a very interesting session to understand how climate change have deeper consequences in our lives and, moreover, our health.

How can we design urban spaces to make them adaptative and resilient to this future situation?

Next session was presented by Raquel Díez Abarca, from Green Building Council Spain (GBCe). She showed us an interesting methodology and tool to implement bioclimatic evaluation and assess for bioclimatic design through HADES tool. Based on the Spanish Technical Building Code (CTE) HADES evaluates the project requirements according to the local weather characteristics in order to adapt its design with sustainable criteria. The GBCe tools are free and suppose a very interesting start point to design building taking into in consideration sustainable factors in the management of the building as a whole. 

For the elderly, bioclimatic design in the spaces they use is a key factor to guarantee their health, their comfort and also to save energy, as their situation is usually more vulnerable than other sectors.

Raquel Díez explaining the different methodologies and projects they develop in Green Building Council Spain.

Finally, in the afternoon we were introduced to the local context of the elderly in Usera District, by the hand of Carmen Herrera, Leader of the Department of Social Services in Usera.

Carmen Herrera introducing the statistics of Madrid, the Madrid Age-Friendly Plan and the activities they coordinate in the Social Services in Usera.

We completed many of our documents with additional information about demographic and health analysis that have been recently developed in the district. We were also explained the different social services that citizens can ask for in the Social Services Centers. There are many facilities, services and activities offer, both public and at home, in order to promote autonomy for the elderly as long as possible.

There are seven Elderly Daycare Centers in Usera that satisfy the necessities of the neighborhood. However, many of them do not count with the accessibility requirements for the neighbors that currently use them. One of the main issues is accessibility. These public buildings and the pathway to get there are not always adapted to the requirements of accesibility, anti-slippery conditions, slopes and inclinations…

Other relevant aspect is that the district is characterized by a high level of engagement and participation and every Friday there are open-air active sessions. However, the lack of public toilets makes exercising outdoors a real challenge for the elderly and so, many of them do not feel comfortable to join the activities.

Our first visit to the neighborhood is about to happen! We will have first approach to this neighborhood and visit an Elderly Day Care Center to see the facilities and services they offer as well as the design problems that users face!

Next Monday 10 am in Usera station!

Meet you there!


UNI-Health Team

Welcome to UNI-Health

What’s UNI-Health?

UNI-Health is an European Knowledge Exchange and Innovation Training Program engaging students and researchers from EU Universities in the production of a database of technological advances improving urban health conditions. This first edition has been designed by:

In the different sections you will find all the information about the seminars that were produced in Madrid edition, a review on main topics on Newcastle edition and a “resources” section where you can find all the outcomes produced during the year.

Want to get involved?

Write to us: uni-health [at]

We are looking for partners and collaborators to replicate it in further editions and to make diffusion of interesting technological solutions and methodologies regarding urban health!

Project supported by EIT HEALTH