Rethinking urban spaces has been the focus of UrbanLab - an urban development initiative undertaken by 8 Danish municipalities - during the last 2 years. Headlined by the municipality of Horsens, UrbanLab is quite different from the normal development projects usually going on in different cities around Denmark. From the very beginning the focus here has been on redeveloping former industrial areas of each of the 8 cities involved, and doing so through collaboration between the cultural and the development departments in each city and artists, local businesses, architectural experts, and citizens.
"Very often during urban projects in one municipality, each of the different departments will work separately, each in their area of expertise and they only come together at the end. And even then, its just to find out that what the others have come up with. It isn’t really close teamwork. With UrbanLab, we want to make sure that this doesn't happen, so close collaboration is an essential ingredient of the project" emphasise Henriette Wittendorff Ipsen and Ole Wolf from the Cultural Department of Horsens municipality.
Conferences give tools
Through 8 conferences over 4 years, each of the 8 participating municipality are presented with different tools which they can utilise in drawing up a detailed plan of a specific urban development project they want to work on. Each conference focuses on a different topic and together with experts in the specific topic, each city' project is analysed and a suggestion on how to proceed further is drawn up.
Culture and urban development go hand-in-hand
Culture and art play an important role in the UrbanLab project. Attracting capital and businesses is no longer the most important criterion on which future cities are built. In order for cities to blossom they have to be attractive to people. ''Cultural projects very often allow local citizens to see their city through a new perspective'' Henriette Ipsen points out.
The skatepark in front of the city hall building in Horsens, is an example of how cultural projects can bring life and create a lively atmosphere in different city areas. With more projects like this one UrbanLab is looking to create urban spaces which are full of life and allow people to exercise and explore the city culture and history.
UrbanLab is part of Aarhus 2017 - European Cultural Capital for 2017. You can read more about UrbanLab on their website www.urbanlab.dk