Green Urban Lab

Yiorgos Hadjichristou, Veronika Antoniou, Marco Cannevacci – Green Urban Lab

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Context

The ‘Green Urban Lab’- GUL is an experimental project funded by the EEA/Norway grants that run in 2014-2015. The GUL aimed to regenerate urban public spaces in Cyprus, an essential parameter of the built environment that is lacking from the urban scene of the island.

The GUL took the form of public installations that were placed at various locations in four cities in CyprusThe GUL has activated urban fragments that were underused by converting them into lively spaces that encourage social interactions.

The purpose of this project was to identify issues and opportunities related to public space and to offer guidelines on how design and participatory democracy improvements could strengthen civil society, while raising the quality of the urban public scene.

Allowing for participatory processes through low budget, temporary interventions and bottom-up initiatives was the working methodology adopted for the realization of the project, which was explored both in its theoretical premises and the practical implementation.

Location: cities – Nicosia, Limassol, Larnaca, Paphos – Cyprus<br> Authors: Yiorgos Hadjichristou, Veronika Antoniou, Marco Cannevacci<br> Design team: Urban Gorillas NGO, University of Nicosia, Dentros Ltd.<br> Collaborator: Danielle Mancini<br> Completion: 2015<br> Photographs: Urban Gorillas NGO

The GUL was a project led by Urban Gorillas NGO in partnership with the University of Nicosia, Dentros Ltd. (a forester company) and the active participation of local community groups. The Inflatable specialists Daniele Mancini and Marco Canevacci were invited and led the workshops and to design and build the inflatable structures along with students of the University of Nicosia and volunteers. The participatory aspect of the project was enhanced further during the organization of events where an open call was launched and diverse groups of people participated. As a result of this collaborative process, temporary solutions to host the events were proposed through flexible inflatable structures that challenged the boundaries of space, interaction and innovative social expression. These design catalysts for change were placed in ten distinctive locations across Cyprus where a series of cultural, artistic, educational and social events were curated. Given their almost immaterial behavior, their malleable ‘liquid’ spaces and the accompanied rich series of events, these inflatables managed to efface the historical and architectural solemnity of the sites, converting them into more enticing and accessible spaces for all people.

They attracted the engagement of the local communities and passers-by through design and playfulness. The fluid presence of the installations acted as a catalyst for social interaction, relating to the notion of the space not as a site but as an event. They were accessed and viewed effortlessly and surprisingly, creating opportunities to rediscover public spaces.