The Urban Agenda for the EU Partnership on Culture & Cultural Heritage has been developing a toolkit that contains good practises and suggestions related to the reuse & management of vacant buildings and underused urban areas. The toolkit focuses on using co-design and collective management processes that engage with social actors (e.g., local communities, private and public bodies, cultural associations, etc.) in taking care of these urban components.
This toolkit sheds a light on the challenges concerning shared management processes that aim at enhancing and renewing public goods, such as buildings or open spaces. Moreover, it provides case studies that could be recreated (partially or wholly) in other EU urban authorities to foster cultural and social activities.
The study wants to focus on two main aspects of the “better regulation”:
- How can a public administration listen and identify needs at an urban and territorial level? What mechanisms can be effective for involving urban actors in processes of mapping and characterisation of the context?
This aspect is important because it allows a public administration to develop processes for needs analysis. It also brings innovation in the field of the participatory and co-design activities, especially with respect to inclusion of citizens, social groups, and relevant stakeholders.
- How to build a virtuous process for the reactivation and/or reuse of buildings and open spaces that is as inclusive as possible?
Very often the processes of reactivation of underused public buildings get the best results when they are born in close collaboration with several local realities (cultural, social, etc.). In some cases, “informal bodies”, who do not reflect with the logic of the real estate market, give effective answers to local needs that can improve the quality of life of the surrounding communities. In this respect, public administrations should involve multiple stakeholders and support projects arising from actors not recognised by the traditional real estate market.
This toolkit can be a useful tool to lay the foundations for a strategy that looks at a new model of re-use management of the urban commons for socio-cultural purposes through active participation. In fact, disused and underutilised spaces and buildings in all European cities can become opportunities for new jobs, promotion of a collaborative economy, social innovations, and start-ups.