full plenary room in Innsbruck during A place to B(z) presentation

Activating Underused Spaces – A place to B(z) at EUniverCities in Innsbruck

This event focuses especially on the promotion of collaborations between universities and cities in the EU. For Bolzano we joined with the municipal council of Bolzano, Chiara Rabini, professor for eco-social design Kris Krois and Philipp Rier and Marielle Scharfenberg from A place to B(z).   

group of people with backgrounds in both administration and project planning from different European countries had gathered in the plenary room of Innsbruck’s City Hall. Under the title “Abandoned or underused spaces – unlocking the sustainable potential for people” we had planned a workshop facilitating knowledge exchange and discussions between participants. After a short introduction by the municipal council of Bolzano, Chiara Rabini and Professor Kris Krois on the collaboration between the city and university, Phillip and Marielle gave the participants a short overview of the vision, process and challenges of A place to B(z). 

Following the presentations, participants were able to share their knowledge and help with their personal expertise in finding solutions to problems related to reactivating abandoned places. In a world café setting participants were able to share their experiences with (re)activating abandoned and underused places. We deliberated on obstacles and how to overcome them, leading to a discussion on what kind of policies and attitudes are required to unfold the potential of abandoned or underused spaces. 

Key insights we took away from these fruitful discussions were to include as many different groups as possible in the process and to build up a tight network of local actors and organizations, e.g. organizations and students, who can support the project with their expertise. To emancipate citizens in taking part in revitalizing their neighbourhood there is a need to lower barriers like permissions and bureaucracy. The city should actively work towards passing regulations that enable active civic engagement and establish this as a course of action for municipal work. In the meantime, a bureau of civic engagement and public participation should be appointed. This way citizens could be supported in their initiatives and get assistance in navigating the jungle of bureaucracy. Funding and finance are important factors as these projects are usually long-term and time intensive. To facilitate these initiatives the municipality should provide a starting budget and support the initiative in finding further funding. 

This event was a great opportunity to network with leaders and administrators of international projects and to learn from each other. As we face similar problems across the EU, it is only reasonable to collaborate in the ongoing process of finding solutions as well.