The Centre de Recerca Polis (CR Polis) is an interdisciplinary research centre based at the University of Barcelona which focuses on the creation and promotion of knowledge about the city, particularly in terms of sustainability, urban design and public art. This centre is made up of several researchers from the departments of Sculpture, Social Psychology, and Drawing at the University of Barcelona, as well as from other Spanish universities and research centres in Portugal. CR Polis has played an active role tracking and analysing the different processes that affect the construction of public spaces in terms of territory, society, art, design, as well as in terms of material development of some of those process within the frame of Barcelona.
From a critical and analytic view, there clearly exists a plurality of approaches, from local projects, the creation of an information system of public art in Barcelona (an online tool to spread the local heritage of public art), to international projects such as the thematic network, PAUDO (Public Art and Urban Design Observatory), created as an international stage/platform that encourages collaboration among specialised institutions.
This group encourages the study of the politics of memory associated with the creation of public monuments and the problems derived from the memorial significance/new significance that goes beyond the academic sphere to involve the public sphere. CR Polis specializes, among other fields, in models for action that are increasingly inclusive and horizontal in order to integrate different agents within the management and decision-making of civil society. Regarding projects aimed to transform the public spaces of Barcelona — such as the women’s prison in Les Corts —, one of the main focuses has been the active process of public participation. Interdisciplinarity is the other main focus of the CR Polis. From its beginning, the research group has encouraged multidisciplinary teams working on a cross-cutting basis from history, art, urbanism, design, sociology, architecture and philosophy.
For CR Polis, public participation and their multidisciplinary approach are the two key elements needed to approach the challenge of making public aware of the public of memorial stories within the cities in a positive way.