Urban innovators and social innovation

The experimentation started with the Eureka project led us to discover and articulate the figure of the urban innovator through the experiences developed in 4 Urban Living Labs in Venice, Timisoara, Bilbao and Amsterdam.

What are the skills needed to work in the field of urban transformation? We asked experts, community leaders, associations, creative people and citizens.

From the very beginning, it was clear how to work in the field. Together with our project partners and the participants in the international training for urban innovators, we listened to the needs and wishes of the local communities and co-designed specific actions to be implemented in the 4 territories.

Giudecca (Venice), Zoratzaurre (Bilbao), Baje (Amsterdam) and Timisoara became a second home. Here, the Eureka urban innovators walked through alleys, streets, squares, fields, markets to understand the essence and design actions arising from the needs of the inhabitants.

The work in the Urban Living Labs, which lasted about a year, was presented at the end of October during the Eureka Short School in Bilbao, a wonderful week full of events, including the international conference URBAN REVOLUTION Aurrera! where international urban development experts shared their visions for the future of cities, analysing the main challenges from different perspectives in dialogue with leading practitioners such as Charles Laundry, Farah Naz, Carlos Moreno, Sophie Howe and many others.

In Eureka’s Urban Living Labs, the aim was to find innovative solutions that at the same time involved local communities and challenged the traditional top-down approach. The four clusters spontaneously found the path of territorial and participatory storytelling as the optimal tool for territorial regeneration.

In Venice, the Italian cluster created a board game to allow inhabitants and visitors to rediscover the space of the island through the stories told by the giudecchini (inhabitants of Giudecca island) and collected during listening activities.

The Romanian cluster created an interactive treasure hunt and a short film to tell the story of the Flavia market area in an engaging way, allowing people to rediscover the potential and hidden gems of Timisoara.

The Spanish team collected the untold stories of the island of Zorrotzaurre (Bilbao) and made them available through a guerrilla art action, using a mobile frame, photographs, small panels and QR codes scattered around the island.

Last but not least, the Dutch cluster created an interactive map of the Bajes neighbourhood in Amsterdam that will allow new inhabitants of the area to reconnect with the past and resemantise the present through a newly provided vision.

All these simple yet very effective solutions allowed the participants to test their ideas, to use creativity to cope with scarce economic resources and to learn more about how small-scale urban innovation can be done with a bottom-up approach.

Photo: Mikeldi Donibane Sanjuan / TEH

We are very proud of all the projects and especially of the fact that the urban innovators of Eureka have become a united community, passionate and eager to do more in their areas but also as a community!

We returned home full of new energy and with new ideas to take back to our regeneration projects and experiment with local communities.

Take a look at our current projects and find out what we are doing locally!

Discover more about Eureka project here.

Let's network: educating communities in dialogue