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Mobile ‘Agora’ for participatory spaces: creating new forms of expression in the cityscape

  • Amount funded: £30,000
  • Year: 2022
  • Duration: 24 months
  • Locations: Cyprus
  • Grant stream: Open grants call
Issue

A decline in usage of public spaces in Nicosia is considered to be a contributing factor to the diminishing culture of civic participation in urban decision-making processes.

Project partners
Urban Gorillas
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How we are helping

This project will encourage participatory processes in public spaces through the creation of the ‘Agora’; a mobile green structure that will transform under-utilised urban areas of Nicosia into vibrant, inclusive hubs for free expression and meaningful exchange.

About the project

Public spaces play an important role in urban areas, providing common ground for civic participation and freedom of expression; considered necessary ingredients for a healthy city. Accessible and inclusive public spaces are a target in SDG 11 ‘sustainable cities and communities’ with the indicator ‘urban planning participation’; also acknowledged in the New Urban Agenda.

In urban areas of Cyprus there is a decline in both supply and usage of public spaces within communities. There is little culture of citizen participation in urban decision-making processes and research by project partners Urban Gorillas has highlighted a lack of awareness among citizens of the importance of public spaces.

Urban Gorillas will lead a collaborative process to cultivate a change of perception about issues of civic participation and to develop an understanding among citizens about urban commons as part of their civic conscience. The project will advocate for freedom of expression in public spaces and encourage citizens of Nicosia to exercise their right to the city.

This will be achieved through:

  • Involving youth groups and civil society organisations in the design and construction of an innovative mobile structure, the ‘Agora’; an open and accessible democratic platform to respond to the current lack of public space, accommodating greenery, shade and sitting areas.
  • Facilitating civic activities under the format of public laboratories in four urban sites comprising debates, case clinics, design-thinking workshops, planting, “artivist” (art+activism) installations, performances, presentations, and exchanges with CSOs and other informal social groups.
  • Disseminating the outputs of each public laboratory at the next location in the form of a living exhibition.
  • Developing creative workshops with CSOs and artists to enhance their communication capacity and generate alternative expressions for advocacy, causing an impact to a wider audience. The intention is to consider the city as a canvas to project positive messages.
  • Engaging with public and municipal authorities, political representatives and related stakeholders to motivate them to share project results, and develop intercultural, participatory, and creative governance.
  • Organising the installation of a semi-permanent ‘Agora’ to continue its legacy and promote sustainable engagement and use by the wider public.
  • Launching an open call to select four CSOs to work with invited artists and the Urban Gorillas team to create guerrilla campaigns and artivist projects that can occupy the urban infrastructure such as walls of buildings, street pavements and rooftops and can accommodate micro-installations, projections and interactive performances in public spaces.

As a result of the project, it is anticipated that under-utilised urban sites in Nicosia will be transformed, positively impacting the immediate community residing around each site of intervention and that young people become empowered to present their ideas to policy makers through inclusion in decision-making processes at the municipal level.

Project Partners
Urban Gorillas

Urban Gorillas is a non-profit organisation that contributes to sustainable urban living by enabling projects that bring new energy and instigate change in city spaces and communities. Urban Gorillas focuses on the transformation of public spaces into environmentally friendly, innovative and democratic hubs, cultivating civil society and impacting policies. This is achieved by artistic interventions in urban spaces, community engagement, research into new energy-efficient technologies and socially oriented architectural designs that can improve urban living.

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