YPLAN – Young Placemakers Initiative
Young Placemakers Initiative (YPLAN) was an innovative project implemented by the URBAN2020 Association, in partnership with the Centre for Excellence in Planning (CEP) and HSR IRAP University from Switzerland. It was designed by URBAN 2020 and implemented between 2015-2016 under the Swiss-Romanian Cooperation Programme, setting the foundations for a continued collaboration with the local civil society as well as successful spin-off projects, including at international level (Kosovo).
YPLAN’s primary objective is to facilitate the transition towards sustainable participatory planning and civil empowerment in Romanian cities through innovative best practice transfer of Swiss youth involvement experience and an applied public space co-design process.The project aims at generating long-term changes in the way the urban planning process is implemented in Romanian cities, reducing the gap between the level of citizen engagement in planning in Romania and the well-developed European countries such as Switzerland. In order to achieve this, we have worked with youth, mentors, NGOs, highschools and universities in Bucharest in order to reach over 800 students and involve a small pilot group in co-designing and co-implementing urban public space redevelopment in Bucharest’s Sector 2.
The YPLAN project had three main specific objectives:
A. To achieve heightened awareness towards social public space, planning and civic involvement among 7,000 students in Bucharest, of which a pilot group of 30 high school students and 6 volunteers from the University, which have been involved in further piloting activities.
In the first few months of the project, we focused our attention on raising awareness in 12 high schools in Bucharest and in the online environment, mentoring youth on the topic of public space.
B. To mentor a pilot group of students for co-designing and negotiating the development of public space in Bucharest and be actively involved in their community.
YPLAN organized interactive Urban Walks and workshops with students, through a holistic hands-on urban planning and design experience. We had Bucharest urban walks with interactive “urban observations” discussions aimed at stimulating creativity, initiative and building a knowledge base in planning, but also Urban Treasure Hunts.
Furthermore, in partnership with the “Ion Mincu” University of Architecture and Planning, Nod Makerspace and La Firul Ierbii, we implemented 6 thematic interactive planning workshops, in which students co-designed 8 public spaces, Meetings with the Chief Architect of Sector 2 ensured rigorous review of the ideas, and helped negotiate a final number of 8 projects, ready to deploy.
C. To implement on-site a number of 4 redesign projects and to diffuse the project achievements through an online platform, a publication and a final presentation event as a means to ensure the continuity and lasting impact of the initiative.
Our final goal is ambitions: we aim at developing, together with youth, a “One hundred ideas for public spaces in Bucharest” sustainable redesign project and advance it to the Municipality of Bucharest as a position document for currently lacking urban policies.
Our first step was through YPLAN, implementing 4 redevelopment projects from the students’ work targeting “soft” interventions in the urban space, in cooperation with the local administration and community members.
Last but not least, our final booklet of the YPLAN experience represents an illustrated methodology on public space co-design through youth civil empowerment in Romanian cities: