Designing new projects

Despite the difficult situation we are facing due to the pandemic and the new work-from-home status we are still trying to get familiar with, Urban2020 team is glad to state that for our small association it has been a quite fruitful period. In fact, during the last months, Urban2020 has been actively involved in the design of different new project proposals in line with our development goals. Waiting for news about the projects’ approval, we provide here below some information.

 

CultEUR – Sustainable Cultural Tourism through Replicable Smart Heritage, Economic, Environmental and Accessibility Models

CultEUR has been proposed within the Horizon 2020 – Work Programme 2018-2020 “Europe in a changing world – Inclusive, innovative and reflective societies”. Its aim is to support cultural tourism in marginal regions by using the potential of local thought leaders supported by modern technologies, data analytics and visual insights, by creating a new model for cultural tourism ensuring economic and societal benefits while sustaining the environment. The approach proposed by CultEUR will be tested in a representative range of cases, composed by 18 cities, situated in a variety of different cultural-geographical regions. The principal role of Urban2020 association will be to guide the city of Brasov in the implementation of the project at local level and to lead the task of impact assessment of Cultural Tourism on Economic and Social Development.

 

GIS4SCHOOLS – Improving STEAM Education in Secondary Schools through the development and co-creation of new methodologies for teaching to and exploitation by pupils of GIS products related to climate impact on the environment

The Gis4Schools project is a strategic partnership in the field of School Education aimed at introducing new methodologies based on the use of GIS technologies applied to the impact of climate change on the environment in order to improve STEAM’s learning by pupils. Students will have the possibility to better understand and tackle the environmental and societal challenges, understanding and learning to analyse their local impacts. In this approach GIS is a precious enabling tool for the engagement of pupils in analysis related to their environment and community. Furthermore, the introduction of GIS tool inside their learning methodology will enrich their curriculum, improving their ability to integrate into the world of work at the end of their studies. Urban2020’s role will be to facilitate the integration of this tool in a High School situated in Bucharest and to follow the pupils in the path of approach to new environment-related urban issues.

 

ECOSERVICE – Ecosystem services Approach in School Education

The aim of ECOSERVICE project is to integrate the concept of “Ecosystem Services”, the benefits that humans freely gain from the natural environment and from properly functioning ecosystems, into High Schools curriculum in a holistic approach. The methodology is based firstly on the education of schoolteachers, which will learn the necessary skills and tools that will enable them to reach the final end-users, the students. Thus helping them develop significantly their science related knowledge and raise their awareness on the value of maintaining and enhancing ecosystem services as a means of improving life conditions in urban areas. Urban2020 will be the mean of replication of the project in Bucharest, accompanying the identified High School throughout the process.

Claiming back the city

The public space is and has always been a reflection of the dynamics, processes and health of the city. The life of the town, the diverse interests which govern it, the moments of crisis or those of cohesion manifest themselves in the pulse of the plaza. In many ways, the public space is a catalyst for urban transformation processes, and the measure of its quality represents a community barometer.

Historically, the public space has also been the main stage for the exercise of citizen rights. From the Athenian agora – as intersection of commerce, administration politics and religion – and to the late twentieth century „Reclaiming the Streets” setting, public spaces are the city’s energy valves (Berman, 1982).

For all of the importance it holds in the city, contemporary public space is often a place of contradictions, diluted and subscribed to private interests and „top down” decisions, seized and parasitized, or simply abandoned. There are plenty of examples in which public space as a good belonging to everyone has, in time, transformed into a good belonging to none.

At a time of profound societal changes, the need to re-shape the urban landscape is subscribed to a broader movement to regain community goods, values and community rights. The movement of “taking back” [the city, the rights, the decision, etc.] has started to manifest itself at local level as well, not only as a political response (with which it is mostly identified), but also against social alienation and division at the neighborhood level, trying to restore meaning to the city as a public space. Recovering vacant, unused or misused spaces means recovering ownership of the city itself: reclaiming function (as common place and space for social convergence), access (as a place open to all), and identity (as a place which reflects community values) – Bodnar, 2015.

Good public space should not be a commodity reserved for the lucky few, although it is often viewed this way: luxurious re-developments in downtown areas, in strong contrast with the shortcomings of the dense collective housing neighbourhoods of the periphery. Conversely, communities that have the greatest need for quality public spaces are private wealth. “Public spaces create a different type of society. A society where people of all income levels meet in public spaces is a more integrated, socially healthier one.” (Enrique Penalosa, mayor of Bogotá, Colombia).

Good public space has the essential power to catalyse urban regeneration, to reconnect severed social ties and to „mend” the city. It is the starting point for re-thinking a city which serves its citizens equitably, being built around their real needs and not in spite of them.

But a good public space cannot be willed into existence by sheer desire. The act of regeneration, of change, implies taking responsibility for the place and recognizing one’s specific role (both as an individual as well as a community) within it. The process of reclaiming is therefore bound by the fundamental assumption of custody, administration and the quality of being an active actor within the public space, but also by the recognition of the fact that public space is a convergence of local interest and administrative will.

In many ways, the redevelopment of public space within a community implies the regeneration of the community itself, by bringing together citizens and their interests in a collective process of awareness and reconnection. But this process needs a long-term vision to support it, providing space and time not only for understanding the needs and potential answers, but for recrystallizing the sense of belonging to the community and therefore the responsibility of the city: the power of caring for and preserving public space as a common good.


References

Berman, M. (1982): All that is solid melts into air: The experience of modernity. Penguin Books

Bodnar, J. (2015): Reclaiming public space. Urban Studies Journal Limited I-15, June 9 2015