Building the city together

Six idea-makers from Idea Camp in Subtopia share their ideas on how to improve cities

Idea Camp 2015 – Build the City, took place on September 23-25 in Subtopia. Idea Camp is arranged yearly as a part of European Cultural Foundation’s (ECF) project Connected Actions for the Commons, which Subtopia is a part of. The purpose of the project is to support people and grassroots organizations so they can influence the development of the commons.

This year’s Idea Camp was arranged by Subtopia together with ECF and focus was on how we can build the city. Bellow, six of 50 idea makers tell about their projects on how to change and improve a city.

“Permanent Space, Temporary City”

Irina Paraschivoiu, Romania, Local Development Professional

– My idea is about match-making between communities or social entrepreneurs and land owners, for unused land or buildings, whether public or private. This process would involve process design and be about communities defining the uses that they would need. How the unused spaces can be used should be mutually beneficial to both communities and land owners. This can lead to permanent uses maybe or even to creating the legal framework for this kind of temporary use, it depends on the communities, how far this would go. Idea Camp has been a very good space to interact with other people to find common ideas. We were even discussing the possibility of having a common manual about how to activate spaces.


“Postcards from home”

Julia Heslop/Enrico Forestieri, UK/Italy, Artist/Architect

– The idea is about bridging differences between diverse communities through participating and gaming strategies. Two community hubs, one in each neighbourhood, will facilitate a network of residents to build an alternative map of the other neighbourhood, using self-made postcards. It’s about how you see something from outside. Then the idea is that once these post cards are produced they travel back to the hub and the sights are mapped into a whole to show how the neighbourhoods are perceived. They will see what the issues are and also how to create creative participation to solve problems. People have really challenged the idea which is good. One of the main issues is how you get people involved and interested in the idea.


“Spaces for arts, welfare and progress”

Mohab Saber, Egypt, Cultural Manager

–  The idea is to explore the neighborhood in Alexandria. We will reuse unused spaces, to be spaces for arts and culture. Also, because it is very near to tourist attractions, we can invite tourists to go into neighborhoods with a map to find attractions and coffee shops and places of activities. We want to change the reputation of the neighborhood and involve the habitants. I will take a lot of inspiration and stories with me from Idea Camp, how others’ ideas have succeeded, which will help me to improve my idea and see it more in details.


“LaFábrika detodalavida”

Pedro Salguero, Spain, Student/Project Manager

– We want to start a participatory project to give citizens the opportunity to participate in the political life. We want non-profit organisations, companies, government and citizens to work together and decide what is going to happen in this space, LaFábrika, Lfdtv. It is a space and factory. We want to do what the citizens want to do, but always, all results have to be based on commons. We would like to get an urban masterplan created between all of them. At Idea Camp I’ve created networks, shared information and the commons’ points of views with other organizations. I also met one of the best cultural spaces in Europe, in Subtopia.



Sabina Ostermark, Sweden,  Cultural Producer

– The idea revolves around doing a work-shop tour in Karlstad, Sweden, in four different places. The reason to this is that we want to address a number of questions about the places’ identities and the culture’s meaning and different form. Culture can be many different things and we want to increase the civil society’s influence on urban development. We want to be enablers for those who are not visible today. I will first and foremost take knew knowledge with me, from Idea Camp. When we first came here we had certain projects, but after Idea Camp those projects have changed, maybe not Transurbanistaz, but some views have been added.


“Caring In the City”

Silvia Nanclares, Spain, Writer and part of a gender cooperative

– The main idea is about how we bring up children in the cities and how we want to do it. And most importantly: what if we can do it in a collective way? In big cities like Madrid we don’t have any public budgets for caring, so mostly kids are raised in the private. We want to put this issue on the political agenda. We also want to create a researching group, map the neighborhood to see what kind of infrastructure we have to raise children and then share what we have found in a radio podcast. A Feminist approach is the basis. During Idea Camp it has been useful for me to share my experiences with Swedes. It’s amazing how the public system here encourages upbringing. Let’s see what we can do together, how we can change the system in Spain.