Human Cities Festival, Brussels March 2012

The Human Cities Festival took place on March 15th and 16th 2012. Many people from diverse backgrounds and countries came together to share their views in a symposium style on the theme 'Reclaiming the Public Space'. There was a practical side of the festival, where conference participants went out into Brussels public space to engage people in various activities or to simply 'activate' the public space. There was some beautiful events that took place and this was a highlight of the conference. There was public art displays, performance art and simply engaging people in various activities.

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What is Human Cities? 

“Human Cities”, a European cooperation project supported by the Culture programme 2007-2013 of the European Commission.

Since 2008, the Human Cities network gathers Pro Materia (BE), the Faculté d’Architecture La Cambre Horta de l’ULB (BE), the Politecnico in Milan (IT), the Institute for Urban Planning in Ljubljana (SLO) and the Lighthouse in Glasgow (UK) which is replaced since 2010 by the Cité du Design in Saint-Etienne (FR). They all work together in order to highlight and tackle the uses and attitudes of people in urban public space. They question the socio-cultural issues of urban design ranging from public spaces to urban furniture and objects in European cities today.

Human Cities as a European city hub.

Urban public space and the urban fabric are emerging more and more as a field of creative intervention and collaboration between artists, designers, architects, sociologists, writers and philosophers, urban planners and landscape architects. In this context, Human Cities proposes interdisciplinary research and actions that aims enhance the emergence of creative cities seen much as a laboratory for informal, temporary, creative performances and installations of static or moving forms and objects challenging our existing art, architecture and design stereotypes.

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Sustainability and creativity in urban design are also more and more connected to educational and participative programmes reaching all kind of public within the already explored and not yet studied urban territories. Both are also linked to more dense digital and media environments surrounding us as well as to the ephemeral, the temporary and the creation of new typologies of public space where creative people can meet, play, live and enjoy the site specificity and qualities of the places to be.

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European cities today face both frightening threats and exhilarating challenges, becoming harder to manage and to understand, while fostering their role as the drivers and hubs of our economies. Not only must they compete in attractiveness, in order to encourage talents-both creative and academic-to move in (or not to move abroad), they also need to create a framework that promotes their human capital, while coping with social fragmentation and sustainability. Human Cities as a project and philosophy is therefore positioning itself towards artefacts and spontaneous creations which are seen and perceived in their uses, living scenarios as well as in their complex urban perspectives.