Based on the encouraging results of a first international colloquium in Brussels in 2007, Lise Coirier and Chantal Vanoeteren brought their experiences together in order to launch “Human Cities”, a European cooperation project supported by the Culture programme 2007-2013 of the European Commission.

In 2008, the Human Cities network gathered Pro Materia (BE), the Faculté d’Architecture La Cambre Horta de l’ULB (BE), the Politecnico in Milan (IT), the Institute for Urban Planning in Ljubljana (SLO) and the the Cité du Design in Saint-Etienne (FR) (replacing the Lighthouse in Glasgow (UK) in 2010). They all worked together in order to highlight and tackle the uses and attitudes of people in urban public space. They questioned the socio-cultural issues of urban design ranging from public spaces to urban furniture and objects in European cities today.

In 2014, Human Cities_Challenging the City Scale, selected by the Creative Europe program of the European Commission is shaped as a multidisciplinary European network. It is composed of various complementary partners profiles: universities / departments of architecture and design, urban planning centers, design centers, design weeks, ICT – information and communication technologies platforms,service design and creative design consultancy agencies…

Led by Cité du Design de Saint-Etienne [FR], the 12 partners of Human Cities Network will be able to share their knowledge, competencies and know-how with a common aim to innovate with people in the urban space using design as a creative and sustainable tool.

Previous HUMAN CITIES projects:

Human Cities / Reclaiming public space

Funded by the European Culture programme 2007/2013

The project focused its observations, analyses, production, communication and mediation on various initiatives resulting from a bottom-up process (started by non-institutionalised actors: citizens, artists, and associations) that reshape the forms and ownership of public space. These creative “human-centred” initiatives, which result in various forms of investment in the city, reconcile two aspects of the very concept of public space: the political aspect as a place for exchange and participation, and the material aspect as a place accessible to all.

The outcomes were the following:
– a Toolbox including a selection of existing European bottom-up initiatives
– an Observation Mission tool that allows analysis and evaluation of public space initiatives
– a Web-documentary that gives voice to a number of citizens, associations and artists
– an Open call “Upcycling – Urban readymades” which gathered projects that rethink, re-use and reinvent public space
– Human Cities Festival “Reclaiming Public Space”, held in Brussels in March 2012.
– Human Cities Symposium “Civil Society Reclaims Public Spaces. Cross Perspectives Based on Research” as a part of the Human Cities Festival: link pdf
This work enhanced the people’s active engagement and participation through human-centered and participatory design approach, in order to explore and experiment the will to reappropriate public space.

ULB-Faculté d’Architecture La Cambre-Horta (BE), Pro Materia (BE), Cité du Design (FR), Politecnico di Milano (IT), Urban Planning Institute of the Republic of Slovenia (SI), Strategic Design Scenarios (BE), Time Circus (BE), Clear Village (UK)


Human Cities / Celebrating public space

Funded by the European Culture programme 2007/2013
The project reflected on how design theory and practice can conceive and develop feasible solutions to create unprecedented forms of community and public spaces in cities. It examined the complexity of contemporary society and cities, considered as laboratories, where new ideas and solutions are being invented. The outcomes of the projects were focused on experimentations in local European festivals aimed to understand ways to combine the design of a physical layout of any concrete space with the so-called soft attributes of space, such as user needs and habits, and their perceptions and expectations of a space.
This work resulted in:
– the publication Coirier, L., Goličnik Marušić, B., & Nikšič, M. (2010). Human Cities. Celebrating public space. Stichting Kunstboek. link pdf and link amazon
– the first edition of the Human Cities Festival “Celebrating Public Space” in May 2010 in Brussels
– an international symposium, an exhibit on “Places to Be”, presentation of results of the project and various activities in cities, and in an international call for ideas.

This work paved the following projects with a strong theoretical work towards further impact of people’s active engagement.

Institut supérieur d’Architecture de la Communauté française de Belgique La Cambre (BE), Pro Materia (BE), The Lighthouse (UK), Politecnico di Milano (IT), Urban Planning Institute volunteered geography as a driver of the Republic of Slovenia (SLO). With the expertise of Culture Lab (BE) and in collaboration with Cité du Design (FR).