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Human Cities Toolbox

By Louisa Vermoere

One of the most important outcomes of the previous Human Cities festival in 2012/ Reclaiming public space was the development of a Toolbox. The Toolbox is a collection of tools or toolkits, developed to let people take action in their cities or neighbourhoods. The Toolbox was conceived under the direction of Politecnico di Milano and Cité du Design and coordinated by Strategic Design Scenarios.

First a short recap about the Toolbox. For the next story we took the opportunity to interview Francois Jegou of Strategic Design Scenarios.  Altogether, the Toolbox represents a fascinating collection of different tools, really capable of enabling people to use their public space in a more social and creative way. The Human Cities Toolbox is oriented towards the idea of reclaiming public space. It is the outcome of several workshops and discussions between all partners involved within this European network, which shows a collective desire to create connections between different practices and public space research as a common good. By promoting bottom up initiatives (started by citizens, artists, associations, etc.) that redraw the shapes and forms of public space appropriation, the Toolbox aims to inspire everyone to undertake projects and actions in public space. It proposes a selection of European existing examples, inviting interested stakeholder such as citizens, NGO’s, public authorities, private bodies and others, to take actions themselves or collectively towards a better daily living in more humane and sustainable cities. The Toolbox was created after one year of meetings and a series of workshops that took place in Brussels, Ljubljana, Saint-Etienne and Milan. It contains projects and initiatives from the partners, originating from respective cities. Each partner had to choose between two and four projects, actions or cases in which they are involved in or that are happening in their cities. All of the collected examples were then analysed in order to extract tools and/or toolkits that can be made available for others. walk-08-rueJulesBouillon Exposition [caption id="attachment_1609" align="aligncenter" width="670"]Human Cities calling for action during the ACTION-WALK. Human Cities calling for action during the ACTION-WALK.[/caption] In Brussels during the Human City Festival the dissemination of the Toolbox took place. With three different tools of the Toolbox injected dreams into citizens how to reclaim these places back: The Human City Toolbox Blog, retraced the entire content of the Toolbox, Action Walk, physically represented the Toolbox in the streets of Brussels & Picture Yourself, enabled citizens to activate their streets. The tools or toolkits, like Jardins Ephémères & Adopt a Tree, that gave a breathe of life into neglected urban spaces through gardening, or Skate Park, an urban place for sliding designed by and for skaters, were the selected projects, actions or cases created in the workshops. [caption id="attachment_1613" align="aligncenter" width="860"]Illustration of the suggestive methodology of the Picture Yourself toolkit. Illustration of the suggestive methodology of the Picture Yourself toolkit.[/caption] The different tools and toolkits outlined in the Human Cities Toolbox allow us to have a wide overview on the diversity of the initiatives and therefore cover multiple dimensions to adapt to more situations regarding public space. For example, some of the initiatives have been realised and developed entirely by citizens or artists, while others have been realised by involving municipalities or public authorities in the process. Some of the initiatives are temporary projects, and others are long term projects. The examples in the Toolbox are by no means exhaustive; it can only be improved through as many examples and contributions as possible. More detailed info of the Toolbox can be found on page 16-21 of Civil Society Reclaims Public Space.