Micro-scale urban regeneration

Format Action

City Aveiro, Portugal

Neighborhood – With Micro Scale Urban Regeneration, a group of citizens works together to regenerate an urban void near their homes and create a new public space for all. They participate in several work sessions to identify urban issues, needs and expectations regarding their residential area, discuss and co-design a consensual idea for the void transformation and, finally, co-build the space through a set of construction workshops. This will have a direct impact on the city image and urban form, through a better quality of living in the urban environment. It furthermore raises awareness among citizens and empowers them to appropriate and transform their surrounding urban space. This leads to a broader community development based on dialogue and commitment as well as the strengthening of community ties, sense of belonging and ownership.

We identified several urban voids in the city centre of Aveiro, a passive and unaware local community regarding urban issues with a lack of trust towards local authorities. We also noticed an absence of accessible public space and green areas in some residential districts. Additionally, a friendly and collaborative interaction between local residents and university students hardly existed. The underlying idea of micro scale urban regeneration is that it brings about community empowerment and autonomy by reinforcing citizens’ skills, establishing connections with national and international networks, and enhancing susceptibility to urban issues. This allows communities to develop urban solutions in a creative way, through collective processes encouraging an active and positive participation. It furthermore triggers intergenerational engagement between students and local communities by promoting the exchange of experiences, knowledge and skills. As such, collecting memories, needs and expectations activates processes of placemaking, reinforces local identity and inspires a sense of belonging.

Location Urban Voids Mapping

In loco identification and mapping of the urban voids in the city and selection of the intervention area [by project core team]

Things you need Urban diagnosis

Analysis of the intervention area and its surroundings regarding historical background, social and cultural context, urban form and typologies through research (literature review, image archives and memory collecting) and in loco observation. [by project core team and urban experts]

Mobilization Community activation

A set of street initiatives to promote the project, engage and activate citizens to for action: mural painting, street interviews, mouth-to-mouth communication, happenings and flash performances, etc. [by broader project team and artistic & community collectives]

People Power Participatory work sessions – Part 1

A group, up to 30 citizens, participates in a set of work sessions (up to 5) to create and prepare a work team for the temporary urban intervention. In these meetings participants map the worst and the best of the neighbourhood, share their needs and expectations concerning the intervention zone, generate and discuss ideas about what to do, build consensus and co-design an intervention proposal. [facilitator/mediator, citizens, broader project team and artistic & community collectives]

Official / Legal Community validation of the proposal

Organization of a street public event in the intervention area (community picnic) to present the intervention proposal to the broader community. This is a moment of debate, explanation, detail tuning and adjustment and overall validation. This step is crucial to also get the formal approval from local authorities. [ local community and other citizens, broader project team and artistic & community collectives]

People Power Participatory work sessions – Part 2

After the overall community validation, the work team (project team and citizens) organize themselves in smaller work teams and plan and prepare the intervention: collecting materials (wood, paving stones, paint, trees, shrubs and vines, mortars, tiles, among others), identify and search for specialized work (land cleaning and preparation, transportation, pavement assembly, etc.) and services (water supply, licenses, housing, food supply, etc.). [facilitator/mediator, project team and participant citizens]

Production Workshops for Urban transformation

According to the intervention proposal and its construction specificities a set of open construction workshops are organized (carpentry, gardening, painting, illustration, etc.) Here participants learn construction and arts techniques and develop their skills for the temporary urban void intervention that is to come. [Workshops program coordination team, project team, citizens, collectives and local organizations]

Communication Opening event & Maintenance Plan

Finally, an event is organized for the public opening and presentation of the maintenance plan defined between the project team and the participant citizens. This moment is an opportunity to engage more citizens into the place maintenance.

Observing the city and listening to citizens is the first step for an effective urban change: trust, commitment and awareness are the pillars to make the city together!

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