Refugees for Co-Creative Cities

We are very happy to share the news that we’re now part of the network and get funded by the Advocate Europe idea challenge with our project!

What is Advocate Europe?
Advocate Europe is an annual idea challenge for innovative European initiatives and projects by MitOst in cooperation with Liquid Democracy, funded by Stiftung Mercator. Advocate Europe is open to civil society actors who seek financing and support to realise sustainable ideas from fields such as civic education, arts and culture or social innovation. By mentoring and funding non-profit project ideas with up to €50,000 each, Advocate Europe aims to foster transformative activities throughout European civil society.
Both the public and an expert jury selected the winners. Out of 575 submitted proposals from 39 countries, the expert jury has chosen ten winning projects which use innovative means to foster cohesion and connection in Europe. The community determined the winner of the Community Award: The project Localization of the best European MOOCs for Ukrainians by the Ukrainian NGO Prometheus, which receives €5,000 towards its implementation.

               Find out more about the eleven winning ideas.


[the jury] "Refugees for Co-creative Cities responds to the need for a new ‘culture of welcome’ for refugees in Europe through an exciting mixture of local intervention and cross-European exchange. Co-creating the urban environment - in this case, restoring and reshaping abandoned buildings alongside refugees - is an unconventional approach with great potential. Accompanied by research and fostering links to political decision making, the project serves as a prototype for similar endeavors."

[the project - short description] Refugees for Co-Creative Cities

Refugees come to Europe with hope for better life, but we feel ashamed by the way they are hosted now. We, Europeans, can do it better.

Refugees have to wait for a legal status in remote mass accommodation centres, making them feel useless, depressed and disconnected from the public space while there is a lot of empty property in Ruhr area, which can be used.

A transnational team “Refugees for Co-creative Cities” is developing a long-term refugee accommodation system to help refugees in Ruhr area find their position in the public sphere and self-worth with physical renovation of empty buildings.

The project has three steps. First we will make a research of best practice in Europe on refugee accommodation and integration, publishing it in a compendium.
A chosen empty property in Ruhr will be upgraded with the help of refugees.
A new example of good practice will be presented on an EU-wide conference. We aim that 5 municipalities will adopt the model.

[the project] Refugees for Co-Creative Cities

How can refugees improve their daily lives and public space in Ruhr region in Germany? The project raises the questions on the current situation and the future of life of refugees in the Ruhr Area and compares it with best-practice models from other European urban agglomerations.

The economic and political situation in Europe and abroad started a wave of refugees. - They are too often deemed as second rate citizens with little or no impact on public policy or physical environment. WHAT WILL WE DO - Identify the opportunities of the greater inclusion of refugees in the society. - Physically upgrade an empty or underused space together with refugees in the Ruhr Area, with a pilot project in Oberhausen. - Identify the good practices of refugee integration policies - A documentation and various platforms to promote this new type of collective and collaborative practice projects WHO BENEFITS - Refugees and other vulnerable groups of citizens in the region of Ruhr, because they will co-create their “welcoming” space as a part of a general public space. - The region of Ruhr and partners in the project. - Other bottom-up activists from different countries, sharing the same interest in collective practice. DURATION: September 2015 - November 2016

What is the story behind?

Europe-wide the municipalities are increasingly not able to properly receive the incoming families and individuals seeking for help. The municipalities allocate the refugees out of sight in provisory collective accommodation in sports halls and barracks etc. instead of proactively seeking for solutions that provides a more respectful, meaningful interaction and emphatic care. OUR BIG DREAM is to match vulnerable groups with abundant vacant buildings to transcend the division between the ‘full’ citizens and the newcomers. THE MOTIVATION TO ACT comes from the current wave of refugees from Syria and elsewhere. OUR TARGET GROUP are vulnerable groups of citizens: refugees, homeless and similar.


WE AIM TO: - Involve the refugees in the revitalisation of empty spaces in Oberhausen by incorporating the European-wide good practices. - Establish the network of various professionals and organisations dealing with refugees and public space - make a database of refugee integration examples from all over Europe. CHANGES WILL BE: - the catalogue with refugee initiatives will be made and will be ready to use - The model of collaboration with refugees will be tested on a concrete project in Oberhausen. WHAT BENEFICIARIES will tell: - Refugees will appreciate the possibility to be a part of a society, decision-making and improving the physical environment. - NGOs will get further ideas and examples on how to include refugees into concrete projects in cities.

How do we want to get there?

2nd half 2015 - Establish an informal network - A transnational group of urbanists, architects, artists and activists makes a list of refugee engagement examples in EU, focusing on the Ruhr area. - Creation of an online database of such examples. 1st half 2016 - 2 workshop visits within the network. - Organising a congress “New Ideas for old buildings” in Oberhausen under the title “Refugees for co-creative cities”. It is a part of EU Programme “Europe for Citizens”. 7 medium sized EU towns from the Baltic to the Balkans are facing the economic and social decline and are motivated to find efficient and democratic solutions for revitalisation. 2nd half 2016 - Implementation of the pilot project in Oberhausen and matching activities in other cities of Ruhr.

European level?

The MAIN VALUE - Refugees contribute to a more inclusive public space and better integration in a society on the long run. - It may function as gateway to the job market, as the welcoming communities get to know the skills that the refugees have. - This is a general and highly transferrable Europe-wide topic THE MAIN DIFFERENCE of the project - It enhances the co-creation as well as fosters partnership. - While many projects deal with public space (asking: “to whom belongs the city,”) we want to actively involve the refugees IDEA TRANSFER - Areas with abundant vacant buildings (like the Ruhr Region) have a potential for creative interventions that unite social aims with physical space improvements - It can be used in other countries (Italy, Spain, Greece etc.) and sectors (homeless).


Kitev - lab for extraordinary spatial measures (Oberhausen, Germany; since 2006) as a lead partner. Agnieszka Wnuczak (architect, artist), Christoph Stark (architect, artist) - Aalto University, Department of Real Estate, Planning and Geoinformatics (Helsinki, Finland) - Kaisa Schmidt-Thome (urban geographer) - Institute for Spatial Policies (Ljubljana, Slovenia; since 2006) - Marko Peterlin (bottom-up urbanist, NGO worker) and Urban Jeriha (architect, experience with youth work) All of them already have an established cooperation with one another through Bending Urbanism network. We will invite also other organisations as joint partners, such as Le Nuvole (Napoli, Italy) and Expeditio (Kotor, Montenegro) and local activists from the „NetzwerkX“ (Ruhr Area, Germany)

Oberhausen, May 2015

These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.