17 hacks to make the most of public property in your city

A quarter of Europe’s population lives in small and medium-sized towns and cities. Hiding away in these places is a wealth of untapped potential – including public buildings and land. In times of budget cuts, this public property can be used to steer urban development, with positive benefits for the city as a whole. Drawing [...]

By Petra Očkerl, on September 21st, 2017

“Radical acts of kindness” – volunteering against poverty

Malnutrition and poverty is a global phenomenon, and affects European cities even today. In Hungary – a relatively prosperous country in global terms – many people still suffer from poverty. Malnutrition in cities, and even starvation in certain rural areas, are not rare. Statistics show that more than 40% of Hungary’s population lives in a [...]

By Mátyás Sain, on September 14th, 2017

How residents are opening up the city for children to play: “We decided to try to change things. Starting with our own street…”

Back in 2009, two mothers in Bristol (UK) were concerned about their children’s lack of freedom to play out in their own neighbourhood, to get daily exercise and make friends in the community. Since their own childhood in the 1970s, the urban environment had changed and children were no longer a day-to-day presence playing in [...]

By Alice Ferguson, on September 5th, 2017

How new municipalism shapes public participation: the Summit of Fearless cities

“Nature is intelligence, diversity, and self-organisation. Municipalism is self-organisation at the level of cities.” Vandana Shiva at Fearless cities. Barcelona organised Fearless Cities, the first worldwide municipalist summit, in June 2017. The event brought together the voices of mayors, councillors and activists who engage in transforming city administrations through coalitions of civic activism. Their approaches [...]

By Laura Colini, on August 31st, 2017

Social innovation: How about measuring water quality for ourselves?!

City Mine(d) is a Brussels- and London-based NGO that has been active for over 20 years in projects involving citizens and local residents in urban development. City Mine(d) deliberately blurs the boundaries between social and technological innovation and artistic creation. Using the methodology of “radical prototyping”, Jim Segers, one of City Mine(d)’s founders, tells URBACT [...]

By Jim Segers, on August 22nd, 2017

The New Old Market Hall in Bratislava

In the last ten years the attitude of cities and their citizens towards what is possible and what can be achieved through cooperation with each other has changed. Active citizen organisations, NGOs and different initiatives have shown that they are capable to contribute to urban development with their own activities and deliver what they set [...]

By Kamila Gejdošová, on August 16th, 2017

Cities, actors of change

URBACT’s Emmanuel Moulin takes us on a trip to the Brussels of the future in this article first published as part of a collection for his former doctorate supervisor Prof Dr. Klaus Kunzmann. As a 75th birthday tribute to Kunzmann, who 20 years ago identified five key challenges for spatial development and planning in Europe, [...]

By Emmanuel Moulin, on August 10th, 2017

New tools for mapping city systems: Understanding complexity in urban ecosystems

As societies become increasingly complex and unpredictable, cities’ decision-making models and strategic development tools also need to evolve. Here is a case study to illustrate how a simple public consultation process can provide a clear understanding of a social system. The process is based on notions from systems thinking, complexity and network theory. Take the [...]

By Pedro Portela, on August 8th, 2017

Cities and culture: lessons from Italian cities

As the EU gears up for its 2018 Year of Cultural Heritage, Simone D’Antonio takes us to three Italian towns to explore some of the diverse roles that culture can play in sustainable urban development. Walking through the streets of Mantova’s city centre or using the public library San Giorgio in Pistoia, it is easy [...]

By Simone D'Antonio, on July 24th, 2017

4 lessons for driving digital growth: TechTown’s tales from Tallinn

In a hilltop meeting room overlooking stunning San Sebastian in early 2016, TechTown’s Lead Expert Alison Partridge and I told our new, fresh URBACT network of 11 European cities that we wanted them all to come on a study visit to Tallinn (Estonia) in 12 months time. Cue awkward silence… and only one or two [...]

By Tracey Johnson, on July 24th, 2017