Although in the collective imagination design is associated with aesthetics, architecture, fine art, etc., any action or object is designed to fit the function it is intended to have. When it comes to a large-scale event, design must take into account aspects that vary widely, from mobility to the relationship between the encounter and its immediate surroundings and the lifestyle of the people who will participate.
Therefore, design is sometimes a sort of rehearsal for a play that, at a specific moment, is put on in a great dress rehearsal testing the physical and social reality of a territory at a certain point in time. It is an adaptation of the meaning of public space and human relations that could aspire to be ongoing but is actually just a test, a rehearsal.
This is what Leve Projects has done in two very different but interrelated projects. On the one hand, the dress rehearsal of serving a sustainable meal for 900 people under the framework of the Barcelona Festival of All Design (FADfest) in 2015. That event, which for the audience lasted only a few hours, required a months-long search for players who could ensure the lunch was sustainable, from the way the food was produced to how it was transported, the recycling process and, even, the kitchen utensils.
With that test, the Fad and all the neighbourhoods around Plaça de les Glòries were challenged to prove that, although it is very difficult to avoid consumption habits that are not environmentally friendly, with suitable design it can even be done on a large scale. By tracking the data, we were able to analyse the results.
The second project, a large party along the banks of the Besòs River, could not be explained without the first one. The Besòs Consortium commissioned Leve Projects to plan a celebration to take back the territory, taking into account its social make-up. This second dress rehearsal recognised all the social stakeholders that give life to the areas along the Besòs River and to recognise them with spaces at a great festival attempting to bring cohesion to a territory more than seven kilometres long.
The other great challenge of the celebration, called Besosada, was to get citizens from the municipalities around the river to come together at a central point without using cars. For this reason, this rehearsal created a series of footpaths connecting different places in the neighbourhoods to the central location of the festival. This meant testing dozens of streets, going from being roads for motor vehicles to big pedestrian boulevards for one day. By doing so, the design steps away from the purely aesthetic to touch on human relations and the desire to forge and strengthen bonds, and to test the public space and transform, even if only ephemerally, the elements of the daily lives of thousands of people.