In 2021, the European Commission launched the New European Bauhaus (NEB) initiative, whose core values are sustainability, aesthetics and inclusiveness. The NEB is a creative initiative, breaking down boundaries between science and technology, art, culture and social inclusion, to allow design to find solutions for everyday problems. Inspired by the NEB, we designed PLAY/ACT, a project with two main axes:
A. TRANSDISCIPLINARY CURRICULA
The complexity of the challenges of contemporary societies implies transdisciplinary approaches in the search for solutions. Despite this, formal education at the higher level is still organized in a disciplinary way. Although universities have been making efforts to integrate transdisciplinary practices, they are not yet globally disseminated and are not always applied consistently.
Following the philosophy of the NEB, PLAY/ACT aims to develop a cross-curriculum framework for bachelor and master’s degrees with shared knowledge, skills and experience. This course will train students (and professors) in the design of solutions to real problems in the community with contributions from arts, science and technology.
B. PLACEMAKING PROCESSES
Placemaking refers to processes by which people collaboratively shape and design public spaces to maximize shared values and promote community revitalization. Placemaking processes follow three principles:
- integrate diverse opinions into a cohesive vision
- translate that vision into a plan and program of uses, and
- ensure the sustainable implementation of the plan.
These principles require transdisciplinary and community-based approaches, a strong relationship with the place and a process of dialogue and negotiation with local stakeholders, contributing to the development of entrepreneurship and of civic and political activism on the part of young students. The PLAY/ACT project aims to create awareness among young people of the fact that they are active agents of citizenship, and of urban and social transformation.
The main goals of the project are two:
- To prototype and test a framework of a community-centred cross disciplinary course, encouraging the adoption of these practices in higher education.
- To create awareness among young people that they are active agents of citizenship and urban and social transformation and to empower them to seek solutions to community problems through placemaking tools, in a logic of dialogue with the community and with local stakeholders and consideration for the cultural, social and environmental contexts.
- To increase the interest of youth in the fields of architecture, urbanism, entrepreneurship, civic activism and local politics through the tactic of placemaking. – train young people with the skills and knowledge necessary to develop placemaking projects, empowering them as agents of local change.
- To increase entrepreneurial mindset, political and social awareness, openness to intercultural dialogue and civic participation among young citizens.
- To contribute to the social and urban revitalization of four cities, some of them in rural areas
- To contribute to the strengthening of relationships between academia, the community and local stakeholders.
- To contribute to the objectives of the New European Bauhaus, incorporating the exercise of beauty in education, in political decisions and in the daily lives of citizens.