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The essence of the European city is a certain sense of the collective. A change is currently taking place from less “welfare state” to more “self organization”. What will the new relation between the public and private domains be? Who will take care of the public domain if the state is less involved? And what does it mean for the practice as architects or urban planners?


a- A new public / private relation

If today the planners and architects cannot have complete control at the urban scale, they can promote and establish new levels of urban design. That includes and integrates participation of users and cooperative urbanism can become a methodology to create a new relationship between public and private.  Instead of the traditional dichotomy, the goal is to underline and promote co-strategies: cooperation, collaboration, co-programming, co-conception… Small scales interventions, bottom-up initiatives, cooperative buildings, privately funded projects. It is a changing attitude in urban planning that becomes more open and perceptive.


b- Entrepreneurial task for young architects

Young professionals could see those changes as a chance to rethink their role. By involving new actors from the civil society (inhabitants, etc.) or some groups of action (farmer syndicates, cyclist association…) caring for some aspects of the public good, their task will be much more focused on the moderation of a team than on the service of a omnipotent client. The architect or urban planner have to develop a sense of enterprise: initiate projects in the field of housing development in cities or regenerate empty building based on collective initiatives. The architect has a pro-active role teaming up with economical actors to initiate the project together.


c- Hands on during the crisis!

Considering the city not as a passive victim of the crisis but as a productive field of activity can favour alternative types of urban development: a sort of “performative urbanism” as building temporary installations or setting up new socio-cultural programs in abandoned sites to revitalize the city. Architects and planners could propose a programme after the needs of the city or point out –by themselves– a strategic intervention, and then establish a financing plan through crowdfunding for example and develop a design that takes those conditions into account.


Consequences for Europan

These new logics of actors between private and public initiatives must be taken into account for the Europan 13 sites and the role given to the designers must be enlarged

This implies that:

  • the sites, although linked to the public actors, can involve private partners of different types: owners, clients and users, who may be partners involved from the beginning of the competition and in the implementation processes afterwards.
  • the sites must make recommendations on the other partners that the designers can or must integrate in their answers. This multi-disciplinary approach, joining different skills depending on the contexts is a key for the emergence of entrepreneurship design.
  • but to achieve this goal, the sites proposed in a context of uncertainty about their future must also give some flexibility to designers to formulate strategic projects based on innovative logics of actors and realization processes.