With State of the Art as its first theme, Human Cities: Challenging the City Scale aims to set up a common ground in tackling the issue of how people challenge the urban scale and flow in Europe today.”

The Human Cities partnership is currently reviewing different case studies that contribute to rethinking and reactivating public space in contemporary European cities. With a bottom-up approach – projects initiated and run by the civic society groups – these case studies describe and explain how people organise themselves in specific territories, to question local issues and to see how ideas evolve (or not) out of these environments to influence the city on multiple levels.

After Milan in April 2016 and Belgrade in Februry 2017 , Human Cities_Challenging the City Scale will meet the audience in France at Biennale Internationale Design Saint Etienne 2017.

For its 10th edition, the Biennale Internationale Design Saint-Etienne will be held from 9th March to 9th April 2017. Organized by Cité du design, it will focus on the general theme “Working Promesse. Shifting work paradigmes”. Since its first edition in 1998, the Biennale Internationale Design Saint-Étienne, has gained an international reputation in the design field, attracting more than 200 000 visitors. The aim is to reveal the current state of design and creativity worldwide and to invite visitors to question themselves on the evolution of societies and on new ways of life.

Human Cities_Challenging the City Scale will be a core event of this Biennial, with an exhibition-lab, a conference, a workshop and the regular meeting of the projects’partners.  Human Cities event will be proposed during the week dedicated to Cité du design international networks, and its activities will mix Human Cities , BEDA, Design for All and Living Lab partners, as well as local designers, associations and policy makers involved in Human Cities Saint-Etienne project.

The Human Cities exhibition lab will be displayed in 4 locations :

  • Cité du design : EXPO 10
  • Human Citizens Office : international experiences and ressources on participative urban planning movement displayed in a vacant shop situated rue de la République in the city center, with a section dedicated to  UNESCO Creative Cities of Design.
    This street  “Republique du design” will be a focal point of this Biennial’s edition, with a huge operation of temporary and mid-term activities set up in vacant shops.  We will be in the central part of the street in a big space.
  • 2 places of Saint-Etienne experimentations led by local communities in their districts :
    Hypermatière 50 rue Neyron
    Ici-Bientôt : 42 rue de la Résistance
  • Human Citizens local tour around all these spaces




Monday 13th March 2017

9.00-16.00 : Workshop Human Cities
An urban walk visiting, meeting and testing the activities of Saint-Etienne Human Cities experimentations:Cité du design exhibition
Ici-Bientôt:40 rue de la Résistance
Human Citizens Office : 8 rue de la République
Hypermatière :  25  rue Neyron

Open to : Human Cities partners, international designers,  local communities and public stakeholders


17.00-20.00 : Conference Human Cities at  Cité du design auditorium

– Keynote speakers :

Maurizio Carta – University of Palermo, Italy
Anya Sirota – Akoaki design studio – Detroit, USA

– Human Cities European Partners

– Saint-Etienne Human Citizens

Open to : general audience, international partners, local authorities representatives

Tuesday 14th March 2017

09.00-17.00 : Human Cities technical meeting (Human Cities partners only)

18.30 : Official opening of Human Cities_Challenging the City Scale /Saint-Etienne 2017  (8 rue de la République)



The co-briefing session is about getting knowledge about the spatial and social context for the masterclass and experimentation lab by focusing on a place called “La Piana”, a 6000mq empty square in front of an independent and sparkling theatre in the south part Milan, Teatro Ringhiera.


The Ringhiera theatre is run by an association called Atir that has been very interactive with neighbourhood in the last years organizing a lot of community engagement activities in the public spaces in front of the theatre main entrance.

Since “Atir” began to manage the theatre in 2007, a strong dialogue started with the neighborhood, the local associations and the administration in order to activate and to open up the public space of the theatre to the city. There are hidden spaces, not because hidden from the public, but as they relate to historical memory and are no longer traced to contemporary places: this is the case of the Boifava neighbourhood, located on the edge of the attractive area of the Navigli – a dense urban one – and the Parco Agricolo Sud – a protected rural area in the south of Milan.

How to make La Piana the point of connection between these two typical Milan peculiarities? How to activate this place through services and actions? How to “put on stage” the citizens stories related to La Piana?

Since 2014, the theatre – thanks to its Social Program – organized the Street Art Festival, asking international artist to re-design the “piazzale” through temporary works of art, performances and installations. The artistic process involves citizens and the local community in a sort of “composition game”, starting from collecting inhabitants needs and desires until co-construction phases, with the collaboration of institutions and administration.

The collaboration between the theatre and the research team at Politecnico was established to enhance the relationship between the citizens and the space by using design approach, tools and output.

Co-briefing session

On October 14th and 15th, a co-briefing session was done coordinate by Alice Holmberg and with the participation of Davide Fassi (Associate Professor- Politecnico di Milano), Laura Galluzzo (Fellow researcher, Politecnico di Milano), Daniela Selloni (Fellow Researcher, Politecnico di Milano), Annalinda De Rosa (PhD candidate, Politecnico di Milano), Maria Spazzi (ATIR association), Nina Bassoli (ATIR association). The session was divided in two parts:

Day 1, 14.10.2015 at Teatro Ringhiera, Milan

During the first day two main activities were done: in-the field visit of the area and “indoor interviews” to the participants to frame the works to be done. We also discussed the measuring element and that in terms if Human Cities, it would be relevant to streamline the methods for monitoring and evaluation.

Day 2, 15.10.2015 at POLIMI DESIS Lab, Design Department, Politecnico di Milano

The second day was more aimed at defining some milestones to build a brief on. According to the “indoor interviews” done, we focused the attention to “tools” and “legacy”, or how to share some tools to be used even by other partners and how to be effective in long term after the experimentation lab end, creating legacy in between the lab results and the future of the space.

> Challenges, potential and possible scope for the experimentation: Use optimization of the built environment through the project “School as a Service” at Aalto University’s campus in Otaniemi, Espoo (Finland). It consists of the creation of a new temporary school in Otaniemi for those schoolchildren whose own school is under reparation, based on service design thinking rather than product design

> Aesthetic context:
– Helsinki School of Architecture’s positioning in relation to Helsinki School of Photography and their distinctively Nordic ambience
– Cultural consciousness, in contrary to the often built-in visual obsolescence of ex. pop-up graphics
– Traditional Nordic design values and Aalto’s values of affordable, high quality good design, promoting democratic access to good value

> Partners:
– City of Espoo
– Design Factory – Startup Sauna – Urban Mill
– Aalto ARTS

> Main topics:
– Holistic approach to building
– Diversity of uses
– Sustainability statement
– Definition of Nordic ambience

> Theoretical work:
– Critical assessment of the terminology around “human”. What is the concept “human” in Human Cities?
– Paper “Happy together vs melancholy of loneliness. Disruptive practices on community and privacy”

> Discussion:
– Prototype the service operator: create accessibility to space and redefine the space ecosystem
– Access in service design
– Define overlapping spaces and overlapping uses of spaces
– Reach out to possible new stakeholders
– Create an OS (operating system) for optimised spaces
– Branding and aesthetics, benchmarks are local adaptation – reacting to context, durable design, meaningful, inspiring, creating interactions, colourful, sustainable, furniture ownership by the users, turn the uses inside-out
– Hosting + reception + interaction = adaptive business model

> Attendees: Alice Holmberg, Antti Ahlava, Jarmo Suominen, Fernando Nieto, Pekka Tynkkynen, Mia Hertsberg

The Cité du Design will lead  various experimentations on Saint-Etienne territory in 2015-2017. One of the topics is to tackle the retails and street level spaces. In the contemporary urban context, the classic city, with its town center and its suburbs, disappears to make way for a world of networks, connections, of multi- polarity. The flows of traffic – carried by land, sea or digital routes, take over from places. These structural evolutions are impacting both people and spaces , like the shops in the city centres. How to invent innovative proposals to activate these spaces and scales ?



The Ljubljana Human Cities team is opening the second stage of Human Cities project: EXPERIMENTING in the urban territories with citizens.

What is experimentation process in the Human Cities project? Experimentation is a speculative method, which intrinsically includes a factor of uncertainty. It implies all kinds of activities (actions, projects, programs, etc.), which are targeting an objective. Experimentation is managed by respecting rigorous protocols concerning both the planning and the implementation of experimental situations, and the collection of data. The goal is to test hypothesis and confirm or reject them at the end of the experimentation process in order to improve knowledge.

Co-Creation Briefing sessions are the starting point of this process. They try to develop a problem-solving approach to an issue chosen by each city trough brainstorming and exchange of ideas and knowledge. Alice Holmberg, design strategist, lecturer and innovator is in charge of these sessions.

Ljubljana decided to focus on a peripheral urban open public space of “Bratovševa ploščad” in the “Ruski car” neighborhood in northern Ljubljana.

The exchange with the locals and professionals will be facilitated in a cooperation between the Urban Planning Institute of the Republic of Slovenia (UIRS) and a local initiative ‘Skupaj na ploščad‘ led by Damjana Zaviršek. They aim to create a more attractive and lively open public space on a currently empty and unused urban area.

The goal of this co-creation briefing session is to motivate a team of people to lead and take part in the experimentation process in the following years, to find new ways and to test new methodologies in the processes of co-design of urban public spaces.  Nowadays, participation processes exists in Slovenia as part of the top-town urban planning procedures but are rather superficial and people tend to reject them. The idea is to find new approaches and make the participation processes more attractive and playful.

In order to create a momentum, Human Cities team in Ljubljana will gather some key local players from the neighborhood and will try to raise issues regarding the quality of life in the neighborhood. Next to this a picnic will be organized at the end of the day to attract potential new partners to help in leading the process of the experimentation. The picnic will be a working session at the same time – an urban planning game will be played to address the issues of public space improvements. This playful approach is a part of the experimentation that aims to attract people who are not usually involved in the discussions related to local matters.

Between May and December 2015, BDW conducted surveys and analyses of the state of desolate playgrounds and city squares in Belgrade, as well as the key stakeholders of the project – from the administration of the City of Belgrade to potential investors and partners from business, academia, media and citizen’s initiatives.

In this process, BDW mobilized a team of project partners and associations such as “THINKtent” and “Bubble on the Net”, to form our own unique approach to the creation of a new approach to urban planning / URBANISM 2.0 – INVISIBLE SUPERCONNECTED NETWORKS, as well as the completion of STATE OF THE ART phase of the HUMAN CITIES / project.

A short BDW film about the STATE OF THE ARTS stage was shown in September 2015 at the London Design Festival, at a dedicated HUMAN CITIES/ session at the Limewharf, hosted by Clear Village, London.

Human Cities_Challenging the City Scale/Milano will host the Human Cities annual meeting involving more than 30 participants from the 11 partners.

The meeting will be an opportunity to share how the European cities involved in the programme, are activating public spaces, to schedule the future steps, to promote the activities of the network through a seminar, to deep dive into the Experiment lab at “La Piana” and to visit key public places in Milan.





BASE Milano, Via Bergognone 34, 20144, Milano



13.00-18.30 in Politecnico di Milano – Bovisa campus, via Candiani 72, Milano


April 14th//LAB

10.00-11.00 Visit to exhibition + Experiment Lab @BASE Milano, Via Bergognone 34, 20144, Milano

11.00-12.30 Human cities Seminar @BASE Milano, Via Bergognone 34, 20144, Milano

12.30 Exhibition Opening @BASE Milano, Via Bergognone 34, 20144, Milano

13.30 Bike tour to La Piana (Teatro Ringhiera ATIR), Via Boifava 17, 20142, Milano

14.30-18.00 Experiment Lab @La Piana (Teatro Ringhiera ATIR), Via Boifava 17, 20142, Milano

18.00  Bike tour to BASE Milano, Via Bergognone 34, 20144, Milano

18.30 Event at Triennale Exhibition @BASE Milano, Via Bergognone 34, 20144, Milano


April 15th//TOUR

9.30-13.00 New Public spaces in Milan: guided tour

13.00-14.00 Lunch and end of the activities