In October 2016 the London-based Clear Village project Small Works, in partnership with the Museum of Homelessness, curated a memorable photo exhibition called “Your SW1 Photostory.”

Inspired by the Slovenia photo competition “Photo-Story of our Neighbourhood“, our group worked with residents of Vauxhall Estate in Westminster, London. Residents were given disposable cameras and for two weeks set out to document their neighbourhood in SW1 according to the criteria of the Slovenia competition.

a.) most pleasant place in my neighbourhood
b.) professions in my neighbourhood
c.) my neighbour
d.) borders of my neighbourhood
e.) shared values in my neighbourhood

Once the film was developed we had a mountain of photographs! From here the Museum of Homelessness helped residents organise the photos and develop their narrative. What started as a fun activity to connect with residents and participate in a Human Cities project – quickly became an important conversation about how the neighbour has changed in just the last 10 years.

Our photo submissions didn’t win the photo competition but by the end of the workshops we had gained incredible insight into our neighbourhood and the people who call it home… as displayed in a few of our examples below.

Generations of families used to live on the same estate. Now, it's different. The children don't play out so much anymore and the spaces for kids are underused. - Darlene (Vauxhall Estate resident)

Generations of families used to live on the same estate. Now, it’s different. The children don’t play out so much anymore and the spaces for kids are underused. – Darlene (Vauxhall Estate resident)

Lillington Gardens used to be really vibrant. The original designs included everything you needed, but the spaces which brought the community together - doctor's surgery, library, laundry - have all but disappeared. - Darlene (Vauxhall Estate resident)

Lillington Gardens used to be really vibrant. The original designs included everything you needed, but the spaces which brought the community together – doctor’s surgery, library, laundry – have all but disappeared. – Darlene (Vauxhall Estate resident)

I would take my son to nursery past this building. At the time I was studying level 1 and level 2 in childcare, these were very good times. I used to listen to the news to improve my English. Channel 4 news at 7 is still my favourite. - Mariam (Vauxhall Estate resident)

I would take my son to nursery past this building. At the time I was studying level 1 and level 2 in childcare, these were very good times. I used to listen to the news to improve my English. Channel 4 news at 7 is still my favourite. – Mariam (Vauxhall Estate resident)

Millbank is a place of divide for me. My children would ant to go here after school, but I wanted to go home and feed them a nice homemade dinner! - Mariam (Vauxhall Estate resident)

Millbank is a place of divide for me. My children would ant to go here after school, but I wanted to go home and feed them a nice homemade dinner! – Mariam (Vauxhall Estate resident)


Small Works is a project in partnership with Clear Village and CIVA; it’s a social enterprise hub that provides affordable desk space in central London in exchange for community support & services delivered directly by our dedicated members.

Museum of Homelessness is a Small Works member and the first of its kind in the UK. Museum of Homelessness engages the public through collecting, research, events and exhibitions. The museum is being developed by people from all walks of life, including those who have been homeless.

 All along the year 2017,  Saint-Etienne has lived under the rhythm of Human Cities_Challenging the City Scale.

Saint-Étienne has got a distinctive feature of a creative laboratory, where hands-on stakeholders develop methodologies and actions with the communities to transform the city. That’s why the Cité du design, leader of the project Human Cities Challenging the City Scale in Saint-Etienne  has created C.H.O.S.E (Collective Humancitizens Office of St Étienne Experimentations), a tool to stimu­late and connect these local energies and creative forces.

Within this framework, Ici-Bientôt multidisciplinary group was launched to revitalize a commercial street in the old town.


Ici-Bientôt is a collective constituted for Human Cities experimentations in Saint-Etienne, to find solutions against the increase of vacant shops and breathe new life into the changing neighbourhood “Beaubrun Tarentaize” . Its main coordinators : CREFAD Loire, an association of long-life learning and capacity building, and Typotopy, a collective of graphic designers,  together with a working group of cultural, community associations and residents of the neighbourhood.

Ici-Bientôt is multifaceted: it’s a place, a project and a group population; it’s a synergy between actors (project leaders, owners, associations, institutions…) to find solutions create tomorrow’s urban lifestyles.

Its actions are complementary . Ici-bientôt worked on the history of the districts and its multicultural population ; they opened a resource center, suppor­ting  people  with projects to set up in vacant premises ; they transformed shop windows and signs  of closed or active shops, and they  invested the public spaces with artistic installations and performances. Their purpose: to increase the knowledge about the resources of the district, the dialogue and autonomy amongst their stakeholders. For that, they used mapping, interviews, music events, thematic workshops, business support, and a daily presence in the resource center from June 2016.

Mathilde Besse, who works for the Crefad, the main coordinator of Ici-Bientôt,  explains one  tool used  to collect people feelings about a collective question : “the word holder”

During the Biennale Internationale Design Saint-Etienne 2017 ( 9th March-9th April 2017) , Ici-Bientôt  helped the set-up of 5 temporary boutiques to test a professional, commercial or non profit activity, involving  30 people: a bar, a collective shop for craft designers ; an associative tea-room animated by volunteer mums of the neighbourhood ; a place dedicated to activities on reading and writing ; a visual and sound exhibition room. Restoration works with 30 volunteers from the neighbourhood helped to renovate the shops and injected a collective energy. Artistic interventions, performances and parties invited people to give a new life to the street. 150 people enjoyed the opening day in Rue de la Ville. Roundtables and workshops allowed the exchanges about the issues of vacant shops and transformations of work paradigms (the theme of the 2017 Biennial) During the last week of the Biennial, pupils from a professional high school worked with Polish graphic designers to offer new signs to 3 active shops in the upper end of the street.

International guests gave new inspirations and ideas. The workshop with the partners from the European project Human Cities_Challenging the Ciy Scale confirmed some intuitions or enlarged the perspectives about the re-activation of vacant shops. A roundtable with designers and activists from Detroit, the UNESCO City of Design guest of Honour of this Bienniail, allowed a fruitful exchange about leisure, work, and community building with the members of the collective.

After this extremely rich period of events, the activities of Ici-Bientôt got back on the support of project holders, mainly  with the action of CREFAD Loire, which office is now in the resource centre. The 5 temporary boutiques closed, but 1 permanent opened in October 2017, with the help of Ici-Bientôt. Thanks to their support to build her business and renovate a vacant shop, Souad, a seamstress, opened a shop proposing sewing and embroidery works  and activities and her fashion creations. A shared workshop space and craft lab will open for 6 months. 5 new shops will have new signs made by Typotopy.

Moreover, the Ici-Bientôt group is now associated to the working group of institutions, urban planners, and developers working on the renovation projects of the neighbourhood. They have been hired for their expertise and daily observation of the dynamics at the micro-scale of the district. Amongst the coming projects they are contributing to a new center for music and dance amateur practices ; a urban projects center and an action to support new entrepreneurs.
Of course it will happen  Ici (here), bientôt (soon).


The Saint-Etienne Higher School of Art and Design (ESADSE) participated in Human Cities with a Masterclass organized by the Laboratory Images, Narration, Documents, under the direction of Kader Mokaddem, professor of aesthetism and philosophy. The Masterclass invited 2 groups of international students to develop a sensitive approach of the city and its scales.

The image of urban scale has become confused: urban installations go over the traditional borders of the city. Students were invited to explore the city, mea­sure the spaces and their transformations, and re-build a circuit of looks on the city in Saint-Étienne.

The productions of images from this Masterclass were presented in the exhibition-lab Human Cities Challenging the City Scale at the Human Citizen office, Rue e la République du Design , during the Biennale Internationale Design Saint-Etienne.

Kader Mokaddem, the professor, presents this project :

The challenges of City Scales is a multiple issue, and the sensible approach is a fundamental question to deal with the city tranformations. That’s why these themes will continue to feed the works of the laboratory Images, Narrations, Documents, with seminars involving various city makers, observers, and practitioners, and, why not, the constitution of an “observatory of the sensible city”.


Words by Dr Natasha Cica


Incoming Director, Heide Museum of Modern Art

In February 2017, THINKtent was presented in Kragujevac at a conference for the HUMAN CITIES/Challenging the City Scale 2014-18 project, co-financed by the EU Creative Europe programme.  This initiative engages cities in France, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Finland, Estonia, Poland, Austria, Slovenia, Spain, Italy and Serbia.

THINKtent was used as a brainstorming space closing the conference.

THINKtent asked participants to reflect on the day of presentations from experts across all participant countries, and from local experts in the museum and cultural sector – as well as their site visit to the Creative Grand Park of Kragujevac, a new urban regeneration project in the city’s main public park, delivered by Belgrade Design Week with the support of the Dragica Nikolic Foundation and City of Kragujevac.

Belgrade Design Week chose Kragujevac as its HUMAN CITIES/ focus because of the city’s important civic, urban planning and industrial heritage in the heartland of Serbia – and its contemporary challenges as a post-industrial centre.

Now the administrative centre of Sumadija in central Serbia, Kragujevac was Serbia’s first capital, and the home of its first constitution, secondary school, university, printing press and pharmacy.  From the 19th century it became an important centre of military production. In the 20th century it was the site of a mass execution of civilians by Nazi occupiers in World War II, which led to the establishment of a large memorial park in the city. Kragujevac today is best known for its munitions and automobile industries – under the brands of Zastava and Fiat – and is a regional university hub hosting 20,000 students.


Against this backdrop, THINKtent invited participants to generate and share Questions For Kragujevac – to support and advance the application of best practice participatory urbanism, in this distinctive local context.


Visiting participants in THINKtent asked:


Are people happy in Kragujevac?


From the view in our hotel, the town looks stuck in the 1970s ­– why?


Do people here respect and appreciate history?


What are people’s favourite activities in their free time?


Is this city’s image mainly as an industrial town?


What is the role of tourism in Kragujevac?


What is the legacy here of the 1990s conflicts in the former Yugoslavia – including the 1999 NATO bombing?


What do people in Kragujevac want for their children?


Is this a young city, demographically?


Are people coming to Kragujevac to live and work – or leaving it?


Why would people who don’t live here visit Kragujevac?


How do we measure and better understand what is ‘grassroots’ participation in Kragujevac – including at the new creative park?


Does the new creative park really need a fence? 


Is Kragujevac partnered or twinned with other cities in Europe, the ex-Yugoslavia, or elsewhere?


Does Kragujevac need new buildings to replace older, damaged ones?


Is the night life good?


Are there festivals?



Local participants offered (the beginning of) some answers:


The story about regenerating the factory to make a creative industries space – we’ve heard that for a long time.


Kragujevac is a living city – but many people also leave it.


I was born here, in the early 1980s I finished high school and went to Belgrade.  I had a baby and came back here, I have two children.  When I saw this conference was happening in Kragujevac – I said, ‘I have to go!’  I couldn’t find any friends here who wanted to come.  I called my sister and asked her as well, she said ‘I’m not interested, I have my own problems.  I don’t feel like a citizen of Kragujevac.’  She doesn’t want to take part.


That’s the real situation here – I have a lot of educated, creative friends in Kragujevac.  Their focus is on having a job, a family.  The internet, having coffee.


We’re disappointed, mainly.


I think everything really stopped here during the 1990s, especially after the bombing.


We expected a lot after Milosevic went.  We thought we’d be part of the EU.  We lost energy, and I’m really sad about that.


There are initiatives in Kragujevac, but on a large scale.  Most people don’t want to be involved.


This new creative park with the playground for children, and the place for older people and teenagers – it’s really positive.  It’s always easier here when someone else delivers something like this.


I used to be active in a small citizen’s association here doing projects in villages near Kragujevac.  We received some British Council funding.


There is a lack of trust in government.


To drive new initiatives in Kragujevac, ideally people should engage with both government and the non-government sector.


People don’t think they can change things.


This led to discussion about what effective participatory urbanism really means today.  In Kragujevac – and also other places …


In other parts of Europe (the current EU) there are parallel engagement challenges – and rewards:


People are diffident, they tend to be worried and move in closed circles.  You put energy into change but don’t see the results.


I think people are a bit afraid of having their ‘super curated’ projects and enthusiasm taken by ‘the establishment’, and used for political purposes.   I think that kind of initiative is a good kind of politics – but there is a fear, initially.


If we are not connected, we don’t care about what’s common to all of us.


We paid attention to building relationships between urban neighbourhoods and villages.


Streets and districts can work to know and support each other – that’s about people getting together – and that can lead to more support at municipality level.


I moved into a new neighbourhood and discovered a very active Facebook page, connecting people across lots of activities.


Almost nobody wants to spend 100 hours a week building community capacity.  But little things work – baking a cake, bringing a bottle of wine.


We have a situation where there are so many grassroots projects – it somehow becomes a nightmare of participation.


It’s scary, that almost everything that comprises ‘the commons’ (an idea that’s been around since the Middle Ages) is being destroyed. 


Community-driven urban interventions can become an excuse to stop funding or supporting things, an institutionalised way for the public sector to slash budgets.


We’re doing a project to make a pond swimmable – and doing the work of government.


Participatory budgets help, as an instrument.


We don’t trust our politicians, but small steps can build trust and may give more satisfaction.


In communist and socialist times, nobody took care of public space – and they still don’t want to do that.  All open space was everyone’s, now it’s nobody’s.  How do we find consensus about what to do?


In the West, people used to rely a lot on public initiatives.  Now there is this moment of transition for us as well – ‘When we don’t know if we’re fucked.’


I spent the last few years in Shanghai, where the government seriously (seriously!) takes care of the public space.  It seems like the Truman Show.  If someone feels like planting a carrot in the ground, they can’t.



And all this led to some conclusions – or maybe a road map, some lines to colour in? 

For the next steps … some new Questions from Kragujevac:

How do we teach children how to grow carrots together – and share what they grow?

Children aren’t the problem. Isn’t it adults who are more closed and cynical? Don’t the least creative people seem to be the ones who’ve studied?

We all need to get out of our safe zones, to dare to ‘be like kids’ … maybe, in some version of a creative playground?


 After Saint-Etienne, London and Milan, the international creative urban planning-architectural conference “HUMAN CITIES/ SHARING CLOUD”, gathered partners from eleven European cities -Saint-Etienne, London, Milan, Ljubljana, Graz, Cieszyn, Helsinki, Bilbao, Tallinn, Brussels and Kragujevac – in Kragujevac’s venerable First Gymnasium.


“We are very satisfied to be, among the first in Serbia, part of this important project, a truly pan-European platform for sharing best practices in finding innovative solutions for living in cities today“, said Miroslav Petrašinović, president of the Kragujevac City Assembly, who welcomed the participants of the conference. “Kragujavac has the honour to be the host of this phase of the Human Cities/ project, right after Sent Etienne, London and Milan. This conference is an opportunity to present Kragujevac to the world, but also to share experiences, learn something new from the cities and partners in this project. Our wish is to transform Kragujevac according to its citizens’ needs, with their active participation in planning and construction“, added Petrašinović.

The conference was organized by Belgrade Design Week, who has chosen Kragujevac to be the topic of its HUMAN CITIES/ focus, because of the city’s important historical urban planning and industrial heritage in the heartland of Serbia, as well as current challenging historical crossroads between a post industrial town and key regional university centre, with 20.000 students.

“The combination of tradition and modern perspectives defines Kragujevac as an ideal choice for the organization of this international conference. The Grand Park is a combination of tradition and decades-long habit of the citizen of Kragujevac of all generations to gather in it, as well as this modern approach for the future development of the park. If you design the park so that everyone in it feels relaxed and free, just like in their own living rooms, if you offer a variety of content, then you have succeeded in the primary intent. I recognize that intent as the objective of the entire international project gathered today in Kragujevac. And that is to create a humane society, a positive environment, socialization, no feeling of loneliness – in a word, an improved quality of life for every person in the city“, said Ms. Dragica Nikolić, Serbia’s First Lady and the chairwoman of the “Foundation Dragica Nikolić“, at the opening of the conference.

“It was a great pleasure to be part of the story that writes a new history of the old park in which I also grew up. I believe my participation in this project is more then just a modest contribution to my hometown, but also an invitation to all citizens of Serbia to follow this example and improve their living environments“, added Ms. Dragica Nikolić.

“The partners from eleven European cities presented their own case studies at the conference, with results of exploring the way in which the inhabitants reclaim the constantly evolving contemporary city and ways of (re)inventing city life, as sources of wellbeing and quality of life. These are all projects that are dedicated to the idea of ​​design as a basic asset for transformation of urban and public spaces” stated Jovan Jelovac from Belgrade Design Week.

The conference began with an momentous presentation of Kragujevac. Ms. Jelena Davidović, curator of the Museum 21. October, was talking about the history of the Memorial Park Šumarice. The Institute for Protection of Cultural Monuments in Kragujevac presented the history and the development of the complex of the Military-Technical Institute, the so-called “Forbidden City”, as well as the analysis of the current situation and various proposals for the future of this area in the heart of the city.

BDW’s Jovan Jelovac and professor Aleksandar Vuja from the Faculty of Architecture, University of Belgrade, showed their joint work at the revitalization of the Grand Park of Kragujevac, and proposed further developments of the project by new models of private – public partnerships, according to the wishes and needs of citizens gathered by the research methods of participative urbanism, as the essence of the idea promoted by the EU HUMAN CITIES/ project.

The conference continued with Human Cities/ case study lectures from Brussels, London, Graz, Helsinki, Ljubljana and Sent Etienne. Doctor Nataša Čiča from Australia presented her “THINKtent” concept, at crossroads of arts and consulting, created in order to inspire participants of the discussion to share their most intense emotions, opinions and ideas in a unique setting. The “THINKtent” session named “Q for K” (Questions for Kragujevac) was а sublimation of all lectures. Lecturers, members of the HUMAN CITIES/ project and stakeholders and citizens of Kragujevac participated in this specific joint closing panel, moderated by Dr. Čiča. BDW can’t wait to publish the results of this session in a separate newsletter!

The all-day event ended with the vernissage of the open-air exhibition of works of participants of the Human Cities/ project, on the city-square in front of the First Gymnasium. Hundreds of curious Gymnasium students and citizens of Kragujevac visited the vernissage, with the exhibition open for next two weeks. The exhibition presented also the results of the competition for new urban park mobiliar of the Grand Park, produced in cooperation with the Faculty of Philology and Arts in Kragujevac.

Belgrade Design Week would like to thank all partners of the conference and exhibition, especially the City of Kragujevac and the First Gymnasium. Without their support the realization of this event would not be possible.

The full catalogue of the exhibition can be viewed and downloaded here.

Watch the Video about Human Cities/ Sharing Cloud Conference in Kragujevac

The exhibition SHAPING HUMAN CITIES was designed by students of the Master‘s programme Exhibition Design at the University of Applied Sciences, FH JOANNEUM.


From 5 May to 24 June 2018 urban experiments have been presented, which took place within

the framework of the Human Cities Project in these cities. The exhibition space was the GrazMuseum, which is located in the city centre.

LET’S TAKE ACTION! Gave tips on how to become active in your own urban environment and thereby improve the urban space.

WANNA PLAY? Consisted of eleven miniature golf courses that invited visitors to play. Each lane was assigned to one Human City and one of their experiments. The courses incorporated the spatial and creative circumstances of the experiments and posed a challenge for the players.

WANNA TASTE? Invited up to 20 guests on four Sundays to taste the Human Cities projects in eleven


WANNA TRAVEL? Presented 11 Human cities.

The exhibition was curated by Erika Thümmel und Anke Strittmatter and designed by Tessa Kaczenski, Cara Mielzarek and Julia Prinz.

SHAPING HUMAN CITIES was part of „DESIGNMONAT Graz“ and „Architektursommer Graz“.





Between October 2014 and May 2015, BDW implemented the STATE OF ART phase of the HUMAN CITIES / project, with the goal of building the capacity of BDW to encompass the capability to manage, as an independent citizens’ initiative, the project of public-private partnership on a satisfactory high level, and within an optimal time- and budget- framework connect citizen and users with project donors, creatives and executors, using the methodology of Jan Gehl and the IDEO HCD TOOLKIT for successful participation of citizens in the process of urban regeneration.

This exercise was successful, and BDW opened its most ambitious initiative to that point in a park in Belgrade – the creative playground in Kalemegdan in May 2015 – and called upon all public and private partners in Serbia and the region to support the continuation of the initiative. Here is the story about second creative playground for the children of Serbia.

Foundations are making a huge comeback in Belgrade. Following the decision to establish the commission for facades restoration which will be funded with donations, the City of Belgrade announced it continues the cooperation with Belgrade Design Week in building playgrounds for children, which will also be a modern form of endowment.

Thanks to a donation of “NIS a.d. Novi Sad”, the old playground in the centre of the famous Kalemegdan park in Belgrade, in front of the iconic Cvijeta Zuzorić pavilion – in desperate need of reconstruction – finally got the long awaited complete reconstruction, along with the new creative standards introduced by BDW in 2013 at the first Kalemegdan playground, only a couple of hundred meters away. Thanks to this new partnership between “NIS a.d. Novi Sad” and the City of Belgrade, the most important and frequented park and historic monument in the centre of Belgrade has finally reclaimed both of its traditional playgrounds for future generations, as it was custom for generations of people coming from all parts of the city to enjoy a play, as well as for tourists and visitors with children from all over the world.


As a participant of the “Together for the Community” project, Belgrade Design Week, in collaboration with the City of Belgrade and the NIS corporation as main donors, the Embassy of Finland in Serbia and the Finnish company “Lappset” as partners, based on the project of the young architect Nina Radosavljevic, and built by the City Greenery of Belgrade, has provided a new, inspiring and safe place for children to play.

The new BDW playground was opened on Sunday 24th May 2015 by Belgrade’s Mayor Mr. Sinisa Mali, the Ambassador of Finland H.E. Mr Pekka Orpana, the Deputy General Manager of the NIS corporation Mr. Evgeniy Kudinov, the Director of corporate communications of the NIS corporation Ms. Sanja Lubardic, the Belgrade City Architect Mr. Milutin Folic, the Secretary of Belgrade’s Communal affairs Ms. Nina Jandric, the General Director of Belgrade’s City Greenery Mr. Slobodan Stanojevic, and the founders of Belgrade Design Week Vesna and Jovan Jelovac.


We hope that these two new cases of public / private partnership in Serbia, will inspire and encourage other companies and institutions throughout the nation, to become part of our project with own proposals, initiatives and donations, and that very soon our dream of “100 CREATIVE BDW PLAYGROUNDS FOR CHILDREN OF SERBIA” will become reality in many other places throughout Serbia.



“Today we hand over to our youngest citizens a beautiful, modern, creative playground in our busiest and biggest park in Belgrade. Today is also the European Day of Parks, and a great opportunity to remind ourselves of the importance of green spaces and parks in our city. The City of Belgrade currently boasts 58 parks, the biggest of which is the one we are in today, the park of the Kalemegdan fortress, and it is my wish that we celebrate the next European Day of Parks with even more parks in our capital. I think it’s very important to pay attention to green spaces, to parks development and design. Over the past year we have organized many parks, but what is important is that in addition to parks, we also design children’s playgrounds. Parks, as green areas should be places where our fellow citizens spend their free time and use them for recreational activities, but those parks must have playgrounds like this one, so that our youngest citizens, our children, can spend their time being active.

I want to thank NIS because, as a friend of the City of Belgrade, it donated part of the funds to build this playground and make it look like the way it does today. I want to thank the Finnish Ambassador, since the equipment for this playground is provided from Finland with his assistance, and I would also like to thank our friends from Belgrade Design Week who came to the City of Belgrade with this lovely idea, connected all of us, and finally, successfully completed the whole project! The City of Belgrade has now become richer for another key “design-playground” – I think we all agree it is really beautiful, and I invite Belgraders to join us today, on weekends and days ahead, to spend time here with us.”

Sinisa Mali, Mayor of Belgrade

“As a future-oriented company, NIS gladly supports ideas and innovations that contribute to the welfare of the community, and “BDW’s Creative Parks” project is exactly that. Through our social responsibility programs we support a number of projects for the development of the community in which we operate, and particularly for the young. It was our great pleasure to support this wonderful idea and thus contribute to the opening of yet another inspirational playground for the children of Belgrade.”

Sanja Lubardic, NIS Director of Public Relations and Communication.

“I was walking around Kalemegdan recently, and I realized that a year after the opening of the playground nothing was broken, which proves the quality of playground components is very high. I think that the implementation of this project was facilitated by good cooperation between all the partners: city authorities, investors, designers and Belgrade Design Week. Children’s enjoyment is the reason our company is particularly glad to be a part of this project”

Boris Tancabelic, Director of the Lamda development’s Belgrade office.


Design Interventions in Siping Community, Shanghai, China

Brussels – Monday 01 February 2016 – Human Cities Network is glad to announce this recent collaboration with Design Department of the Politecnico di Milano and College of Design and Innovation at Tongji University with Shenzhen Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture. 

“Open Your Space” proposes a unique design proposition for collective space and public life. It promotes an emerging paradigm involving new processes in imagining public space and co-creation; and adopts an inclusive approach for social innovation towards collaborative actions for an integrated public life.

“Open Your Space” (OYS) is an ongoing research and design project. Reflecting on the current situation of urbanization in China, the project explores an urban community scenario that concerns the physical spaces as well as their social and cultural significances. It tends to activate design factors as how they can intervene and catalyze urban life and built environment.

As a pilot project, Open Your Space @ Siping community (OYS@Siping) is one of the collateral exhibitions of the 2015 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture. Landed in the Siping community of the Yangpu District in Shanghai, the project consists of three parts: an exhibition of case studies that showcases design interventions in urban public spaces worldwide, 10 site projects, and over 50 micro design interventions in the open spaces at Siping community along with a community creative festival and several cultural events. The exhibition included an extract from the “State of the art” best practices collection developed by Human cities.

The opening ceremony took place 19 December 2015 at SPace in Yangpu District, Shanghai. It was followed by a Creative Market and in the evening citizens were invited to join a Community Movie Night. The next day SPace opened its doors for Creative Placemaking which engaged citizens to change its community. The Exhibition of Worldwide Design Interventions in Urban Public Space will be hosted by SPace till the 5 of March 2016. An impression of the event is shown in this video.

This project is organized by Tongji DESIS (Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability) Lab.


( is an initiative mounted by Carton Plein and B.E.A.U. for participants of the Crossroads 2015 programme during Human Citie: Challenging the City Scale – organised by Cité du Design in Saint-Etienne, France.

At the core of this city’s urban renewal, ( aim to inspire citizens to transform vacant streets into dynamic and attractive venues.

Human Cities counts many European and local partners – among which Saint-Étienne-based Carton Plein plays an important role.  During the International Design Biennale Saint Etienne and “Crossroads 2015” workshop, 16 to 17 March 2015, both initative with endeavour to show how it is possible to revive a district by converting vacant shops into interactive work-spaces. Within the Jacquard district, Carton Plein has transformed a former Casino supermarket into the B.E.A.U – a temporary urban action office for collective experimentation. The new venue seeks to make the city a more cooperative and fair place. The aim of the scheme is to stimulate the emergence of new services – re-inhabiting space, to bring new life to a district. This initiative adheres to the Human Cities’ 13 values.

“Human Cities_Challenging the City Scale/Milano”, at BASE Milano, exhibited the ongoing results of the Human Cities research. Among the 11 European partners, Politecnico di Milano was appointed as the first to put on place an exhibition and an event that will later travel through Europe as an itinerant circus. The exhibition will show how the partners  are “challenging the city scale” through a continuous experience in different places and contexts. The first exhibition in Milan  was focused on some experiential actions to let the people interact with it.

In a 500 sqm space at BASE Milano (Via Bergognone 34, Milano) during the Milan Design Week, April 12th-17th 2016 the exhibition has been divided in three different sections:

  • State of the art
  • Masterclass
  • Experimentation Lab

The “State of the art” section is  a way to know the research  work- in – progress of all the 12 partner cities: Milano (Italy), St. Etienne (France), Brussels (Belgium), Graz (Austria), Belgrade (Serbia), Bilbao (Spain), Cieszyn (Poland), London (United Kingdom), Helsinki (Finland), Ljubljana (Slovenia), Tallin (Estonia) through local best practices.

The “Masterclass” section is an overview on education and training sessions at the Politecnico di Milano: action classes to challenge the urban dimension developing specific scenarios to enhance the quality of life in contemporary public spaces. This Milan Masterclass is about design actions for the outdoor area of “Atir Ringhiera” theatre -known as “La Piana” – in southern Milan.  The Masterclass, called “Temporary Urban Solutions” included more than 50 international postgraduate students and PhD candidates. They  explored the opportunities to enhance the sense of belonging to “La Piana” square by the neighbourhood, attracting people with new activities designed with a multidisciplinary team of students and instructors; inside the exhibition, 12 design actions were put on linear path to go deep into the entire process.

The “Experimentation lab” section, aimed to show the Set-up of interdisciplinary field team (manager, designers, researchers, students) together with local entities, questioning new temporary typologies of public space where creative people can challenging the city scale.

During  the exhibition, an on-going “Experimentation Lab” let people interact and activate the space. People interacted with some textile materials by leaving a trace on big metal grids panels that will become the scenography and the frame of the event that will take place at La Piana on the following June 2nd: the day in which ATIR Ringhiera Theatre celebrates the memory of Fabio Chiesa, ATIR’s actor and partner.

The interactive catalogue of the exhibition developped by FH Joanneum Graz was launched on the HUMAN CITIES CATALOGUE app available on  Apple and Google app stores. The digital version of the catalogue is available here :

During the Milan Design week,(13-15 April)  the annual meeting of Human Cities/Challenging the City Scale research project took place with more than 30 representatives of the 12 partners.

The meeting has been 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.




Human Cities_Challenging the City Scale is significantly different in scale compared to the previous editions. It has established a truly European and international frame in order to create the best place to be for engaging design-driven initiatives to take place within public space and have a truly and positive impact on professionals and the general public. In 2016, the European network of partners composed of 11 cities which are developing people-driven initiatives and competencies and are enlarging the audience by being part in the main design events in Europe welcoming several exhibitions, and acting in close relationship with other design networks in Europe and in the world. Our main attention goes to the actual Human Cities Research Project (State of the Art and Case Studies) which have now been structured, offering both inspiring cases for urban experimentation, and an analysis on the current bottom-up urban design movement and social innovation at the European scale. This research, related to co-briefing sessions,  Experiment Labs and the Master classes have a stronger objective: a deep legacy to the local communities. This edition is even more itinerant and open to various audiences, thanks to the touring exhibition concept and digital catalogue which goes with it.




During the Milano Design Week, Human Cities comes across with “Human Cities_ Challenging the City Scale/Milano Exhibition”, an interactive ‘experiment lab’ as a result of an active design experience between Politecnico di Milano – Design Department and School of Design, with “Atir Ringhiera” theatre in Milano and the local associations around La Piana, a square of 6000 sqm in front of the theatre.

62 international students attended the “Temporary Urban Solutions” masterclass, from more than 10 different countries, working for 5 months with 11 local organizations to develop spaces and services to reactivate La Piana square. This experience involved the university, the theatre and the neighborhood to explore the context and the local needs by developing actions and temporary urban solutions for social innovation.

“Human Cities_Challenging the City Scale/Milano” is also an opportunity to share how the Human Cities partners are activating public spaces across European cities: the exhibition acts as a storyteller of the work in progress. “Human Cities_Challenging the city Scale/Milano” will host the College of Design and Innovation of Tongji University – Shanghai, with the exhibition “Open Your Space”. The interaction within the public space is here explored in an extra European urban context – the megalopolis of Shanghai – involving the Siping Lu’s community, the Tongji campus neighborhood. During the Milano Design Week 2016 will take place the annual meeting of Human Cities/Challenging the city scale research project with more than 30 representatives of the 11 partners.




Human Cities_Challenging the City Scale /Milano Exhibition

Milano Design Week, 12th-17th of April 2016

BASE Milano, Via Bergognone 34, 20144, Milano

Opening time: 10am-10pm



The “GRAND CREATIVE PARK OF THE CITY OF KRAGUJEVAC” initiative is BDW’s contribution to HUMAN CITIES/ project co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union, as part of the “100 Creative Playgrounds for the Children of Serbia” campaign.

In pursuit of “design thinking” and “participatory urbanism” in Serbia, BDW made the deliberate decision that the weakest and most vulnerable citizens of Serbia, our children, should be the first to be able to experience the rise in the quality of life through design. In 2013 BDW started a strictly non-profit, nation-wide campaign aiming to involve citizens, responsible and pro-active municipalities, as well as leading foreign and domestic companies, institutions and embassies, which would, in capacity of initiators, sponsors and partners, join their goodwill, energy and donations for the implementation of the “100 Creative Playgrounds for Children in Serbia” programme.


The Grand Park was traditionally a favorite promenade for all generations in the city of Kragujevac, where the dense canopy of century-old trees, walkways, benches and sports grounds represented a valuable place for relaxation and recreation. Unfortunately, in recent decades, the park has shared an inevitable fate of the general deterioration of its city. As an ecosystem, the Grand City Park is a rare urban tissue of park greenery maintained over one hundred and fifty years. The benefits of this heritage, the potential social interactions, the microclimate and emotional aspects that it generates all contribute to the general perception of this type of architecture as a focus point, around which we can gather our attention, assess our will for a better tomorrow and present it as our contribution to the urban community gathered around the pan-European Human Cities / project.



With BDW’s proposed new concept, the Grand park will be returned to the people of Kragujevac in an appropriate grand manner – so that they will be able to enjoy this beautiful urban oasis, enriched with innovative content, connected with new networks and adapted to its various target groups. The aim of the project is to further develop the citizen’s beloved park by means of participatory urbanism and cooperation with some of Serbian and world’s best practices in the field of innovation and design. They will start with designing playgrounds that provide children, youngsters and seniors with an inspiring and safe environment through a modern, active and versatile space for play, education, culture and recreation.

This is just the first step of defining a new framework of citizen’s participation about the park’s future design, with the primarily intention to provoke and activate a responsible involvement of all stakeholders into a joint search for standards of a possible development scheme for Kragujevac’s green zones. These standards define not only the principles of how to preserve and develop the park in a certain timeframe, but also new standards of how to initiate and decide matters regarding this and other valuable parts of the urban tissue.

A further objective of the project is to open up the dialogue with the citizens and inspire them to review, in a wider context, the existing urban, green and historical premises of Kragujevac, stretching from the Grand Park to Šumarice, and to try to integrate them into one uninterrupted entity, designed as a unique model of relaxation and contemplation, while at the same time creating a new cultural and historical destination for high quality tourism in Serbia’s heartland. This innovative complex would link the latest achievements of domestic and international creativity with existing rich heritage sites of the city of Kragujevac, which already include the best works of giants of creative thinking such as Vojin Bakić and Ivan Antić.


The first design and building phase of the project will be realised thanks to a donation of the Foundation “Dragica Nikolić” to the City of Kragujevac, based on research and development work co-financed by the Human Cities/ project and BDW, as part of the EU “Creative Europe” programme.

The project is implemented under the creative guidance of architect/professor Aleksandru Vuja and his architectural studio DVA, in cooperation with the team of experts from Belgrade Design Week and Brand New World from Zurich, Switzerland, as consultants,  with the support of the partnering HUMAN CITIES /project.

About project development:

In 2015 and 2016, BDW has carried out a series of researches, interviews, location- and user needs- analyses of the Grand Park, as well as analyses of potentials and visions of the city of Kragujevac with its leading stakeholders, under the Experimentation phase of the HUMAN CITIES/ project. Before that, BDW presented the development of its playground in Kalemegdan, Belgrade, as the State of the art project phase. The decision to develop further the “Grand Creative Park” concept in Kragujevac was presented in Milan in April 2016 at the Politecnico di Milano session during the Salone di Mobile.

Based on the findings, the Mayor of the City of Kragujevac has now formed a dedicted task force for the implementation of the project, which includes all key city institutions from the Urban Planning Institute to public utilities companies. The first presentation of the concept to media and stakeholders was organised by the Foundation “Dragica Nikolic” in early May 2016 in Kragujevac, followed by a nation-wide media coverage.


Before proceeding to the building of the new playgrounds, Belgrade Design Week will organize a final randez-vous with the parks’s target groups and professioanls with a two-day workshop on locations in and around the Grand Park, as well as the official public presentation of the concept to Kragujevac’s citizens in May 2016 at the University of Kragujevac with open access to everyone. The City of Kragujevac, the “Dragica Nikolic” Foundation and Belgrade Design Week are inviting all interested citizens, companies, institutions and professionals of good will, from Serbia and abroad, to join this non-profit initiative and help the development of a new, green, creative and cultural city of Kragujevac.

More about the conception and the process you can read here.

The City of Kragujevac invites you to share your suggestions, ideas or comments by writing to the project’s email address:

Brussels, Thursday 4 February 2016.

Before we accelerate HUMAN CITIES 2015-2018, Challenging the City Scale, we let you (re)discover a snapshot of the past through the eyes of the oldest partners. The Human Cities project and network was initiated by Pro Materia in Brussels in 2006 and has now spread in different cities all over Europe. To find out more about the past I, Louisa Vermoere, interviewed three ‘historic’ partners: Researcher Laura Galluzzo and Prof. Davide Fassi at the Polimi Desis Lab of the Politecnico di Milano, Matej Nikšič of UIRS: Urban Planning institute of the republic of Slovenia in Ljubljana and Camille Vilain of Cité du design in Saint-Etienne.