2019/ 06/ 21

What can we learn from other innovative cities? How can we make it possible to transfer the knowledge and culture of qualitative urban design from one context to another? What non-statutory tools are the most efficient and how can we increase the political capital of bottom-up mechanisms? URBAN MAESTRO is trying to respond to these and other challenges through ambitious explorations of the "knowledge to action" cycles in urban design governance across Europe.

The URBAN MAESTRO team comprises of 4 researchers from UCL Bartlett School of Planning, 2 urban planning professionals from UN-Habitat, and 2 members of BMA chief architect of Brussels team. The team has started the scoping phase and are currently exploring the landscape of informal tools present in various types of governance of urban design.

On the 12 to 15th June, URBAN MAESTRO participated in the Placemaking Week event in Valencia. The conferences gathered multiple professionals from around the world to discuss the tools that improve the culture and quality of urban design and the challenges of applying them in different contexts, scales, economic and political situations.

Professor Matthew Carmona of the Bartlett School of Planning, who leads the UCL team of URBAN MAESTRO, outlined the project’s starting point: “We’ve been at this question of design and how the state engages with the design for a very long time, and today there is a whole range of reasons for engaging with built environment quality, from economic to cultural and environmental reasons. But at the same time, we still struggle with making places that people really love. So there is the design governance conundrum: can state intervention (in the processes of designing the built environment) positively shape design processes and outcomes? And if so, how?”

URBAN MAESTRO project will further develop and unfold through the next 3 workshops and a summer school in the course of next 2 years. Meanwhile, an ongoing research is organised in robust partnership with experts from a Support & Advisory Group. As the project plans to gather the knowledge on European culture of urban design and strengthen the network of exchange, it shows great potential to result in a collective toolbox of successful city recipes.

Aurélien Delchet, from Atelier Georges, focused on the importance of collaboration and co-creation with inhabitants in order to support the vision of the place.

The first workshop of Urban Maestro comprised of 2 public sessions unfolding the challenges of urban design governance and formed a private work group that gave in valuable input on analytical framework of the research.

The Placemaking Week participants were invited to share exemplary tools and practices that actively advocate for the quality of living environment.

News prepared by:

Simona Paplauskaite / BMA

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 831704.

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