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The co-design process informing the New European Bauhaus

Investigate how the New European Bauhaus was conceived as a bottom-up project based on participation and inclusion.
© RMIT Europe, EIT Community and New European Bauhaus

Co-design starts with aspirations, identifying the shared values or common good rather than agendas and solutions. Ideally it includes three phases: understanding and clearly defining the issue; developing potential solutions and testing these ideas (NCOSS).

From its inception, the New European Bauhaus was conceived as a bottom-up project based on participation and inclusion, and is a good example to illustrate the ways and means of fostering citizen engagement via co-design in practice.

The NEB co-design process sought to answer the following key questions:

  1. What do the concepts of aesthetics, sustainability and social inclusion mean for people in relation to places and forms of living?
  2. What are the most pressing challenges faced by citizens in relation to their living environment?
  3. What are the concrete ideas that could support a New European Bauhaus movement?
  4. What should be the ultimate scope and the main priorities of the New European Bauhaus Initiative?

Listening mode

Understanding that knowledge and expertise was already embedded in initiatives that intersected the NEB key values of sustainability, inclusion and aesthetics, the European Commission went into ‘listening mode’ and created a digital platform for people to share ideas, examples, visions and challenges.

The engagement and information gathering process ran over 6 months and included:

Launch of co-design phase

New European Bauhaus developed a website to collect stories and contributions. Citizens were invited to respond to the founding principle of the New European Bauhaus – positive, inspiring stories as a motivational driver to build beautiful, sustainable, inclusive forms of living.

Activation sessions

These contributions were used to stimulate participation and bottom-up initiatives. They were designed to generate participation among broad and diverse networks. As a result of this process, a growing number of autonomous cross-pollinated events started to emerge.

Information sharing

This was conducted via webinars, conversations, events, workshops. The emphasis was put on collaboration across sectors, institutions, diverse groups ‘to break established ‘silos’ and start new connections based on cooperation towards shared objectives.’ Conversations were multilevel – local, national, pan European – and aimed to amplify organisation and community involvement and identify partners.

Collecting inputs

The incoming contributions, trends, key topics and challenges were identified and high level round table discussions were used to promote knowledge sharing.

NEB conference

This was a hybrid event with more than 40 international speakers and facilitators. The conference gathered more than 8500 viewers from 85 countries.

Collective sense making

The website contributions were shared, discussed, tested and enriched by a diverse set of stakeholders.

Your task

Take some time to explore the short stories, ideas and challenges collected during the initial co-design phase:

Further reading

If you would like to explore some of the concepts we have covered in more detail, the following resources are optional.

What is co-design?

© RMIT Europe, EIT Community and New European Bauhaus
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