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The TramArt experience: domesticating graffiti in public transport

Liliana Arroyo Moliner (Eticas Research and Consulting, Barcelona, Spain)
Gemma Galdon Clavell (Eticas Research and Consulting, Barcelona, Spain)

Journal of Place Management and Development

ISSN: 1753-8335

Article publication date: 14 March 2016




This paper aims at presenting an example of the good practice of crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED). The initiative has been carried out by a private tram company in Spain to tackle graffiti. Their main goal was to avoid graffiti defacing in their underground stations, and artists were involved in the design and execution. The intervention consisted of a combined strategy of CPTED measures (anti-graffiti coatings and paintings) with a comprehensive use of the space, turning stations from transit points into poetic spaces, generating emotions and a sense of belonging. The features also included an urban graffiti gallery.


This case study presents and describes the actions undertaken from the early stages of problem framing to execution and a soft assessment of the results obtained. All the information provided has been gathered through four semi-structured interviews with managers and designers of the experience.


The TramArt experience is an example of the shift in the mindset of transport operators regarding graffiti and graffiti artists. All interventions have been designed by the transport operator in cooperation with situational artists. As a result, the tram stations and vehicles are not conceived either as non-lieux or canvas, but spaces with a singular identity, with the possibility of generating a sense of belonging among passengers and users. The first intervention was tested in 2004 in one station and three years later was deployed in three more stops. According to the initiators, its impact has been mainly positive in terms of success rates, cost reduction and general satisfaction and security perception of passengers. However, the urban gallery has been more problematic to maintain.

Research limitations/implications

This research focuses on the transport operator perspective basically and views expressed by transport users are indirectly assessed. While the change in the angle may be scalable, the specific features depend to a great extent on particular conditions, such as the size of the company, the resources available and the characteristics of the area covered.


The value of this case relies in the constructive approach towards graffiti, which goes one step further than the broken windows theory and the criminalisation of graffiti by default. It departs from prevention to enhancement of the prosocial aspects of graffiti, as well as providing a new conception of transit spaces.



This paper is based on research done during the Graffolution project. Graffolution has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 608152.


Arroyo Moliner, L. and Clavell, G.G. (2016), "The TramArt experience: domesticating graffiti in public transport", Journal of Place Management and Development, Vol. 9 No. 1, pp. 105-115.



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Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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