We look at the ‘just transition’ as a key lens of urban design and planning that can fundamentally drive better quality of life for all – within the boundaries of our planet. Whether applied to mobility, housing, energy, access to basic services such as education or the way we invest in public assets, we approach meanwhile spaces in urban regeneration as a way to prototype just places, and interrogate their meanings and functions in a global context of systemic risk.
We approach the meanwhile in urban regeneration as a laboratorial space to address place-based missions of innovation that speak to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These missions are defined so as to respond to pressing local problems, and convene a variety of local actors in the pursuit of shared solutions, pooling material and immaterial resources and assets that are distributed in our cities yet often disconnected.
We apply arts, culture and creative collaboration as a means to unlock ‘wide-spectrum’ innovations in products and services – across core functions in cities such as living, caring, learning, working, moving, supplying and enjoying. We engage in arts-led practices to foster voice and agency, focussing on those groups and communities who may have less chances to have their say on the city-making process. We contrast ‘niche urban spaces’ by supporting active contribution of different groups, especially via bottom-up production of cultural contents that can promote intercultural dialogue, gender equality and respect for any form of diversity.
At the core of our intervention model there are mission-oriented local coalitions of actors: locally rooted yet internationally connected coalitions that articulate ‘quadruple helix’ collaborations, integrating interests, expertise and resources of government, university, industry and community/citizens. These local coalitions actively support regeneration partnerships (PPPs), operating as open platforms for collective meanwhile city-making.
We co-create prototyping activities spanning light-touch events, arts and cultural performances, capacity-building initiatives, enterprise incubation and acceleration up to temporary services and uses as whole-scale programmes that explore and project regeneration masterplans into the future. We apply a combination of systems thinking and design-driven methods to draw and set on stage possible scenarios of ‘cities of the future’, and we actively interrogate them via action research to understand where opportunities are to achieve better regeneration impacts.
We understand meanwhile use as propaedeutic to permanence. What we co-create and co-produce is essentially a way to ‘test’ masterplans, and to expand and enrich them towards more inclusive, sustainable, and vibrant regenerations. Likewise, it is a way to revert decay and abandonment even before areas are regenerated. Active engagement and dialogue with developers are key to effective meanwhile, and form the backbone of collaborative governance arrangements rooted in public-private-people-planet alliances.
We look at ‘meanwhile’ as a strategic period of time to unlock impact-oriented regeneration investments, and to foster the design of new financial mechanisms that invest in civic assets. From private investments, passing through regional and national funds, up to other key instruments from the European Commission and the European Investment Bank, we work to trigger a shift in the way urban regeneration is funded, exploring alternative forms that can contribute to raise collective investments over those shared assets in cities – both tangible and intangible – that form the backbone of our wealth, and mitigate against future shared risks.