Human Cities Challenging The City Scale

Project Summary

Name: Human Cities_Challenging the City Scale
Lead: Cité du design, Saint-Etienne* [FR]
Partners: 12
Value: € 3.7 m
Dates: 10/2014 – 09/2018


The Human Cities project aims at exploring the following questions:

  • How do inhabitants reinvent the contemporary city?
  • How can we generate a vibrant city that is adapted to these new ways of life?

The focus of Human Cities Network (2014-2018) is to analyse, test and implement the process of engaging people in co-creating and challenging the City scale in Europe today. To go beyond planning practices on the urban territories, the partner cities are enhancing unplanned activities within a frame of 13 shared values: empathy, wellbeing, sustainability, intimacy and conviviality, mobility and accessibility, imagination and leisure, aesthetics, sensoriality, solidarity and respect.


We feel that the Human Cities project based on co creation and experimentation processes   will change the perception of the policy makers about the roles of citizens and creators in urban strategies that reinvent their cities.

We  will analyze creative urban citizen movements, which launch spontaneous initiatives in the hope of solving complex urban problems.

We will analyze alternative solutions  to make cities and towns more sustainable, welcoming and supportive, to re-conquer city centers by other means than just housing.

Our targets groups are:

1. The general public in the countries where the activities will take place, and, more generally, the European and international public, including youth, school children and the elderly [>300,000 people, with estimate of 50.000 in Saint-Etienne];

2. The specialists and researchers in urban design, architecture, urban planning, history, history of art, curators, professionals and all public interested in designing new creative activities within the network society and at their city scale [>50.000 people];

3. The partners of the consortium: they will benefit of the visibility offered by this project. This target group would include the staff associated with the partners and include [>1000 people];

4. The people / designers / architects & studios whose works will be shown in the framework of 9 exhibitions: they will benefit of the European and international dissemination of their work [>500 people];

5. The policy makers.

We will share our results during a high level conference in Tallinn 2018,


A rich programme of activities workshops, conferences, masterclasses and exhibition-lab during 4 years and the outcomes are addressed to policy makers, urban planners and researchers, to enhance the integration of creativity and experimental processes into the urban development strategies.


  • A state of the art with 85 case studies
  • Experimentations in 10 cities
  • Prototypes tested by the public and inhabitants
  • 9 exhibitions in European design events
  • 2 publications
  • 10 workshops
  • 9 co-creations sessions
  • 5 master classes
  • 3 international conferences
  • A Human Cities website
  • A digital catalogue
  • Creation of a HumanCitizens network
  • Connections with UCC


La Cité du design, Saint-Etienne (FR) – coordinator

Leader of the project Human Cities_challenging the city scale, the Cité du design Saint-Etienne is a platform of innovation, research, higher education, economic development, design and art promotion, carried by the City of Saint-Etienne, Saint-Etienne Metropolitan government, and the Rhône-Alpes Region (Ministry of Culture). The Cité du design approach is a human-centred design. A design that enhances the practices and ways of life , optimizes the energy, accompanies the habitat mutations or facilitates the development of health and mobility.

Politecnico di Milano, Milan (IT)

Politecnico di Milano is the largest technical university in Italy. Each year the Politecnico offers numerous Master Degrees (first and second level) and PhD research courses on a wide range of subject areas and disciplines in the fields of Engineering, Architecture and Design. The Design Department of Politecnico di Milano promotes innovation, development and transfer of design culture and methodologies in the socio-economic system. The research objectives are: to act as a place of theoretical, critical, scientific, and cultural debate about the relationship between design & industry, and design & society; to create a system of multidisciplinary connections with the whole range of scientific and technical skills.

Urban Planning Institute of the Republic of Slovenia, Ljubljana (SI)

The Urban planning Institute of the Republic of Slovenia (UIRS) is the central Slovenian research organisation in the field of spatial planning and related disciplines. Founded in 1955, UIRS was transformed into a public research institute in 1993, a status which continues to apply to date. Its basic activities are research, education and publishing. It also operates a public library with an extensive literature stock and large collection of other references in the field of spatial planning.

Clear Village, London (UK)

CLEAR VILLAGE is a London-based charity that helps communities build a better future through creative regeneration. They work together with partners like social landlords, local councils and community groups to bring durable change to communities. They identify community challenges, build on existing community assets and involve community members through participatory design. Since no two communities are the same, no two CLEAR VILLAGE projects are the same either.

The Castle Cieszyn (design center), Cieszyn (PL)

The Castle Cieszyn Design Centre (Zamek Cieszyn) design possibilities. Indeed, they are convinced that design is an effective tool for increasing the competitiveness of businesses, institutions, towns, cities and regions. They believe that design solves problems and designers can offer suggestions about transforming our closest surroundings in order to make our lives better.

Association Design Week Belgrade (RS)

Association Design Week Belgrade (BDW) is the most important one-stop connection point between creative industries, business, government, academia and media in South East Europe, based in Belgrade, Serbia. Without hiatus since 2006, BDW organizes non-profit the region’s leading annual design festival, with its famous international conference BRAND NEW WORLD as heartpiece, which serves as educational platform and meeting point for the exchange of ideas and experiences between international, regional and national professionals and entrepreneurs from all areas of creative industries such as design, architecture, publishing, branding, advertising, communication, arts, photography, retail, education, culture management etc.

Pro Materia, Brussels (BE)

Since 1999, Pro Materia Association has developed through more than fifteen years of experience a recognized international design expertise, especially in the European Union ‘Culture’ programme, today known as Creative Europe. It has conceived innovative projects ‘from the scratch’ such as Human Cities on reclaiming public space through a human-centered approach of design (since 2006), and Glass is Tomorrow, on design-led crafts leading to reinvent glass art in Europe (since 2011). By creating cutting-edge concepts, which are highly human-driven and collaborative, Pro Materia is cultivating the art of putting people together within a framework, rather informal, freestyle and co-creative (workshops, creative labs, exhibitions…).

Group X - Aalto University, Helsinki (FI)

Group X is a research group at the Department of Architecture of the School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Aalto University (Espoo-Helsinki, Finland). Group X consists of professors, researchers, lecturers and course tutors who are focused in user-centeredness design and spatial development from the point of view of active users and sustainability.

FH Joanneum, Graz (AT)

The University of Applied Sciences FH JOANNEUM, provides FH-degree courses in specialised technical and economic disciplines. Within the sector of information society technologies, the courses and research groups in the sectors information management and information design are most relevant. Apart from subject-oriented contents, the courses offered by FH JOANNEUM also emphasise character-forming contents to enable graduates to solve practical problems encountered in their respective professions on a holistic basis.

Association of Estonian designers, Tallinn (EST)

Estonian Association of Designers (EAD) is an association connecting and representing Estonian designers. Association of Estonian designers want to protect the Estonian cultural identity. Estonian designers value acquiring international experience through connections with the outside world. Despite the fact that designers familiarise themselves with contemporary developments and styles, a design identity will be influenced by idiosyncrasies of the cultural heritage and economy of the country. Ascetic, oriented towards basic needs and functions, a smart aesthetic, not focusing on luxury – these are the intrinsic qualities of Estonian design. Association of Estonian designers is the organizer of the annual Tallinn Design Festival Design Night .

Bilbao Ekintza, Bilbao (ES)

Bilbao Ekintza is the Local Development Agency of the City of Bilbao (set up in the late 1980s) with a clear remit to support economic activity in the municipality. BE actively participates in international networks such as Eurocities and UNESCO creative Cities Network (Design Creative Field). BE is particularly involved in promoting creativity and design as the driving forces behind the social cultural and economic development of the city. To this end Bilbao Bizkaia Design Council, BIDC, (in collaboration with the provincial government) plays a distinctive role in coordinating cross-sector collaboration and champions a common voice amongst different disciplines.

CultureLab, Brussels (BE)

Culture Lab, founded in 2002, is a private agency based in Brussels, providing European and international expertise in the areas of culture and heritage. The agency implements a wide range of missions, from the design and management of transnational cooperation projects, the assessment of cultural schemes and programs, the writing of sectorial studies, to public outreach, communication and dissemination activities, mainly in Europe, the Mediterranean area and Africa. In addition, Culture Lab Editions publishes specialized books on heritage and cultural creation.