21 March – 1 September 2024, Vienna > Our short documentary at AzW’s “Toourism” exhibition

We are thrilled to announce that Eutropian‘s short film on Largo Residências, produced for Open Heritage, has been selected in the forthcoming “Toourism” exhibition at Vienna’s Architekturzentrum!

“Transforming a community through responsible tourism” by Levente Polyák and Yilmaz Vurucu tells the story of Largo Residências, a hostel, artist-in-residence programme and café all in one, that opened in the Intendente district of Lisbon, aimed at revitalising the neighbourhood, and create a place for the local population to congregate, while also financing cultural projects and social initiatives through tourism.

Since this video was made in 2019, despite revitalising and re-energising the neighbourhood, and becoming much loved by locals and beyond, Largo had to leave their premises due to the pressure brought on the area by real estate speculation. In the following two years, the collective temporarily used the Largo do Cabeço da Bola Barracks, establishing it as a social and cultural hub. Now Largo Residências is crowdfunding to reclaim the gardens of the Miguel Bombarda Hospital and open them to the public. After standing empty for years, the original building on Largo Intendente is still up for sale.   

About “Toourism”

How can we rethink tourism in an era of climate crisis, wars, the threat of further pandemics, a shortage of skilled labour and an ongoing energy crisis, and steer it in a more sustainable direction? What is the role that spatial planning and architecture are playing in this? The exhibition sheds light on key aspects of tourism, such as mobility, city tourism, interdependencies with agriculture, climate change, the privatisation of natural beauty and the change in accommodation typologies. Above all, however, the exhibition looks at the potential for transformation. Learn more about the exhibition. 

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1 March 2024, Budapest > The Future of Budapest Forum

How to conceive the future of Budapest? What is the role of citizen participation and civil society in shaping Budapest?

On 1 March I joined the Future of Budapest Forum to moderate a sessions about public space, community initiatives and participatory mechanisms with Máté Lukács (Járókelő), Judit Schanz (former Participation Officer of the Budapest Municipality), Miklós Tömör (VALYO) and Áron Halász (Sustainable Transport Officer at the Budapest Mayor’s Office).

With insights about the inner workings of the municipality as well as experiences of civil society organisations, participants looked into the role of public spaces in today’s debates, the ways bottom-up initiatives are matched with broader strategies, the various channels of Budapest’s participation ecosystem, the impact of participatory budgeting on public administration and the role of public procurement in implementing bottom-up ideas.

With constructive criticism concerning the bottlenecks of participatory procedures, the speakers came up with a series of recommendations about how to give more visibility to marginal groups and individuals in participatory processes, how to boost the creativity of the proposals and how to allow for more experimentation in project development and implementation.

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22 February 2024, Budapest > Diverse Heritage, Shared Connections

Photo by Zsófia Sivák

On 22 February 2024, I moderated the roundtable discussion “Diverse Heritage, Shared Connections – How to foster stronger engagement?” in KÉK – Hungarian Contemporary Architecture Centre.

As part of KÉK’s Urban Talks series, we celebrated with international guests that the Budapest100 urban festival won the European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards 2023. Looking ahead to this year’s theme of the festival and other projects of KÉK, we initiated dialogue about modern heritage with experts during a public evening programme with a roundtable discussion. Our main questions focused on the public and institutional evaluation and reception of modern heritage together with mapping possibilities and initiatives to make it more available and inclusive in a sustainable way, working with decision-makers and professionals of the field. The event’s aim was to bring together different viewpoints of different fields closely intertwining at the topic of heritage protection, to seek answers and inspiration, while presenting new perspectives to the public as well.

19:00 // Roundtable discussion with opening statements moderated by Levente Polyák
20:30 // Celebration of Budapest100 and the European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards 2023

Graham Bell – Board member of European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards
Dr. Anke Blümm- Research assistant at Haus Am Horn, Weimar
Ena Kukić and Dinko Jelečević – Project leaders of Memoryscapes of Sarajevo, Graz
Dániel Kovács – Museologist at the Hungarian Museum of Architecture and Monument protection Documentation Center Budapest
Levente Polyák – Eutropian, Contemporary Architecture Centre

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EUI Peer Review in Kalisz towards a 15-minute-city strategy

On 31 January – 1 February, I participated at the third EUI Peer Review event in Kalisz, Pleszew and Ostrów Wielkopolski in Poland. As an EUI expert, Levente has been co-coordinating the knowledge exchange process between the municipalities of Bergamo (IT), Cluj-Napoca (RO), Fundao (PT), Igoumenitsa (GR), La Rinconada (ES) and Maia (PT), supporting the design and implementation of the Sustainable Urban Development strategy of Pleszew (PL).

At the event, I moderated a series of workshops, collecting knowledge and experience from the peer cities to inform Pleszew’s actions towards revitalising the town’s centre, attracting youth and young families, working better with villages in the agglomeration as well as further developing the 15-minute city concept.

The European Urban Initiative launched its Peer Review series in 2023, in order to pool municipal officers’ expertise and know-how from across Europe, in order to support small and medium-size municipalities in their strategic planning. As part of the Peer Review programme, a set of Cities Under Review and Peer Cities are selected through an open call and matched according to the challenges identified. After Peer Review events in Thessaloniki and Coimbra in 2023 and Kalisz in 2024, another series of events are planned for 2024.

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In preparation for Placemaking Week Europe 2024

On 22-23 January, I was in Amsterdam for the Board meeting of Placemaking Europe. PME is an international network supporting activists, designers, citizen initiatives and municipalities across Europe to develop more inclusive and sustainable public spaces. The PME team also took the train to meet Rotterdam Municipality representatives and discuss details of Placemaking Week Europe 2024, to be hosted by Rotterdam in September this year.

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14 December 2023, Prague > Lecture on Cooperative Cities at UMPRUM

In mid-December, Iwas invited to Prague by UMPRUM, the University of Arts and Industry to speak about Cooperative Cities: Community-driven urban transformation and civic ecosystems in Europe.

The lecture took place as part of the series “Sustainable forms of temporary use in urban transformation” organised by UMPRUM researcher Jan Trejbal with the Department of Architecture.

In Prague, I also met members of PublicSpaceLab, an interdisciplinary group dedicated to the rapidly changing needs of public space in cities, connecting the academic sector with practice (landscape urbanism, urban design, public art intervention) and publishing the specialist periodical “Situace.”

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28-29 November 2023, Coimbra > Sustainable Urban Development Strategy Peer Review with EUI

Great days in in Coimbra, Portugal, with the European Urban Initiative to support cities in developing their sustainable development plans in the EUI’s second Peer Review event on 28-29 November 2023. Three cities had mechanisms of their Sustainable Urban Development strategy reviewed, led by more than a dozen peers and peer review experts, including me. Many thanks to our host Câmara Municipal de Coimbra! 

Three cities had their Sustainable Urban Development strategy reviewed at this event: the Intermunicipal Community of the Coimbra Region (Portugal), the Municipality of Igoumenitsa and the Association for the Development of West Athens. The review was led by 18 peers, i.e., urban practitioners from across Europe, who shared their experiences on Sustainable Urban Development.

Through a series of interactive sessions, cities under review and peers built their capacities on:

  • Ensuring continuous stakeholder engagement, from strategy design to implementation and evaluation.
  • Connecting planned actions to existing financial schemes.
  • Monitoring a strategy with correct and objective indicators.
  • Ensuring the sustainability of services with a shrinking population.
  • Planning for the long-term and for the continuity of the strategy.
  • Ensuring metropolitan fringes benefit from EU and national investments.
  • Improving tourism and territorial branding.

In total, 20 cities across Europe participated in this event and shared experiences these specific challenges related to the design and implementation of Sustainable Urban Development strategies.

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15 November 2023, Budapest > Perspectives pour une ville durable

On 15 November 2023, I participated in the “Perspectives pour une ville durable” roundtable discussion with experts from Paris and Budapest. The event was organised by Francia Intézet / Institut français de Budapest and the French Embassy as part of the 21st Environment Month event series.

In urban environments, the impact of climate change is becoming more and more tangible; it is inevitable to reconsider and revise the climate policy in order to make our cities more livable and sustainable. Frequent heatwaves, the risk of flooding, the reduction of biodiversity, and the depletion of water resources are all problems that require action at the local level.

At the roundtable disussion we explored what key local government measures have been taken to make our cities green and sustainable, and what specific ecological initiatives can be implemented in an urban environment.

Invited speakers:

  • Pauline Lavaud, adviser to the mayor of Paris on energy and climate change, water affairs and public space maintenance;
  • Ada Ámon, adviser on climate issues to the mayor of Budapest, head of the Department of Climate and Environmental Protection;
  • Dóra Csernus, director of climate and environmental policy at the Equilibrium Institute;
  • Cecilia Lohász, head of Valyó (City and River Association);
  • Levente Polyák, co-founder of Eutropian 

To complement the discussion, we organised a Cooperative City Walk in the Józsefváros district with Pauline Lavaud, adviser to the mayor of Paris on energy and climate change, water affairs and public space maintenance, showcasing a range of interventions and innovations in the district supporting a greener city. We visited:

Blaha Lujza square: exploring the recent transformation of the square, making it more green, more safe, and more social

Cargonomia: cargo bike collective offering solutions for environmentally friendly urban freight transport

Tolnai Lajos community garden and Tolnai kindergarten, a green and inclusive kindergarten, introduced by Gábor Erőss, deputy mayor of Józsefvárosi Municipality

Bacsó Béla street + Déri Miksa street: the results of greening streets with more vegetation, less parking, and more public space for community activities

RenoPont Energetikai Otthonfelújítási Központ: energy support office counselling citizens about their energy use

Pollack Mihály square: understanding the environmental conflicts around a planned university campus

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New Book: Open Heritage. Community-Driven Adaptive Reuse in Europe

How can communities drive the adaptive reuse of heritage spaces? How to engage people in adaptive reuse with the help of participatory processes and inclusive governance? How to move heritage buildings out of real estate speculation? How to create economic models that have a positive impact on an area and a local community?

Open Heritage. Community-Driven Adaptive Reuse in Europe is a new book published by Birkhäuser, co-edited by Eutropian’s Levente Polyak, building on the research project OpenHeritage.

Heritage is a crucial component of our individual and collective identities, communities and social infrastructure as well as our urban and rural fabrics. Heritage assets, central to the imagination of residents of an area or a broader community, enable people to create spaces of sociability, develop new businesses, create new welfare services, implement the logic of the circular use of land and resources and experiment with new forms of decision-making. 

Offering a set of guidelines to develop cultural heritage for the future, the book brings together a series of case studies, analyses and stories of adaptive heritage reuse projects from across Europe, with a particular attention to initiatives to valorise the heritage value of buildings, non-speculative financial and economic models, inclusive governance structures, community engagement and positive territorial impact. 

Open Heritage, the book builds on Open Heritage, the H2020-funded project of 2018-2022, based on the urgent demand that a sustainable development of our cultural heritage in times of climate change, social inequality and the polarisation of society is only possible if we open up the definition of cultural heritage, make planning processes more inclusive and enlarge the circle of people who can be involved in its care.

Read more about the project here, read in-depth case studies here and and watch the case study videos here

Read more about Eutropian’s heritage-related work here.

Open Heritage. Community-Driven Adaptive Reuse in Europe: Best Practice

Edited by: Heike Oevermann, Levente Polyák, Hanna Szemzö, Harald A. Mieg

Publisher: Birkhäuser, Basel, 2023 

Format: Paper size B5, 216 pages 

ISBN 978-3-0356-2680-3

Authors: Heike Oevermann, Levente Polyák, Hanna Szemzö, Harald A. Mieg, Daniela Patti, Loes Veldpaus, Andrea Giuliano, Ashley Mason, Martin Hulse, John Pendlebury, Giovanni Pagano, Volodymyr Kulikov, Sophie Bod, Lukács Hayes, Iryna Sklokina, Andrea Tönkő, Federica Fava, Katarzyna Sadowy, Jorge Mosquera, Dominika P. Brodowicz, Giovanni Caudo, Dóra Mérai, Hanne van Gils 

Copy Editing: Dave Morris 

Proofreading: Julia Dawson 

Project management: Baharak Tajbakhsh, Regina Herr 

Production: Bettina R. Algieri 

Layout, cover design and typesetting: HE&AD Büro für Gestaltung, Roman Heinrich, Ronald Adolf 

The book is available at https://birkhauser.com/de/books/9783035626803

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New report on integrated territorial development in EUI / UIA projects

We are proud to announce that Eutropian’s report on #integrated #territorial #development in European Urban Initiative / UIA projects is published!

In the past year, Eutropian has worked together with AEIDL (European association for innovation in local development) to explore the integrated (place-based, multi-stakeholder, participatory and cross-sectoral) development aspects of EUI / UIA projects. 

By studying the different projects funded by UIA, we aim to propose tangible good practices of integrated territorial development. 12 project have been selected and studied over 12 months.

The report is composed of an introduction presenting the methodology, key recommendations for professionals6 chapters that detail either the principles or key project phases and the 12 case studies.

The study is the perfect resource to accompany city practitioners in designing the new generation of sustainable urban development projects (the first EUI call has just been launched). You can read the full report here

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