The conference was split up into presentations by a series of keynotes presentations, both INNOVA project leaders and other professionals, as well as a track aiming at discussing issues based on cases, studies and/or experiences stemming from or inclusive of new actors, based in different parts of the world, while at the same time covering topics such as space, participation and big data.
Keynote speaker Bastian Lange from the Berlin-based company ‘Multiplicities’ focused on the role of manufacturing and creative industries, enshrined within the new concept of ‘Transformation Design’, a holistic approach at changing the environment we live in. Several socially designed projects, so-called ‘Maker spaces’, were mentioned in this context, including Berlin’s Holzmarkt and Café de Ceuvel in Amsterdam, a multifunctional space consisting of a series of re-used houseboats placed on a brownfield site, as well as RDM Rotterdam, a technology-induced educational space.
Ivan Tosics from the Metropolitan Research Institute (MRI) in Budapest, questioned to what extent innovation could replace public money, in the context of post-crisis urban regeneration interventions, while also pointing out the importance of bottom-up activism. Budapest’s Muszi provides a co-working space for these kinds of actions to emerge, by giving grassroots movements the possibility to have access to an office, to meet and come up with innovative solutions.
‘Innovators as insurgent planners’ seems to have been one of the most essential messages taken away by many participants of the conference. It is based on the concept of a cooperative model, for instance in the context of reuse of vacant building units, such as ‘Manoel Congo’, an occupation of an abandoned office building in central Rio de Janeiro. The case study is part of a Master thesis research on self-managed housing, that was supervised by KULeuven. The co-housing project is financed by the Brazilian federal government and will include income-generating activities - a restaurant and samba club - in addition to housing for people in need.
Other case studies and projects included “KEMP”, an urban analysis and participatory design tool making use of social networking, while renowned smart cities specialist Boyd Cohen’s highlighted the uniqueness of cities and the interplay between purpose-driven entrepreneurs and the urban places where they operate. On a similar note, PhD candidate Letizia Chiappini, presented a new paradigm of consumption, based on access to resources rather than the possession of these – the sharing economy - a collaborative phenomenon based on a new civic consciousness, that emerged shortly after the economic crisis hit society.
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