New European Bauhaus
A unique opportunity for BEDA Members to play their part
Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, and Elisa Ferreira, European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms launch the co-design phase of New European Bauhaus.
“We need all creative minds: designers, artists, scientists, architects and citizens, to make the New European Bauhaus a success.” Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission President.
“A cultural project that bears fruit for the whole of Europe.” Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth.
“A unique opportunity to say that design matters in shaping the how, the where and the way we live.” Elisa Ferreira, European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms.
On 18th January 2021, the European Commission launched the design phase of the New European Bauhaus.
The NEB has been the subject of numerous discussions within the BEDA Board, the BEDA 2020 Design Forum and the ongoing BEDA Open Door Dialogues for BEDA Members since it was first announced by the Commission President in September 2020.
Beda ongoing involvement
Since then, the BEDA President, Vice President and Consulting Managing Director have had the opportunity to meet with the NEB team to offer feedback and input based on the conversations with BEDA Members, as well as a BEDA internal survey questionnaire that demonstrated Members enthusiasm and support for this unique initiative.
The survey indicated BEDA Members’ willing and active support across the three phases of the New European Bauhaus project – design, delivery and diffusion. The BEDA Membership is willing to participate in convening cross-discipline meetings in line with the requirements of the first phase of the project, gathering and sharing best practice and in later phases, where needed, disseminating information in their own countries. Enabling access and engaging the design professions across Europe is also a significant component of the part that BEDA Members can play.
Press Launch links
A short video introducing the New European Bauhaus by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is here.
The link to the Commission Press Release also offers further links which will be of interest to BEDA members.
The link to the New European Bauhaus website is here
The link to the support guidance on sharing conversations is here
Unique approach – unique opportunity
It is notable that there are two novelties in this Europe-wide information and insight gathering exercise.
The first of these is that the Commission is working in new ways, adopting a design-led approach to co-creation, where the exact outcome of the process remains unclear. The Commission is committing to a process that is open ended. It has designed a process to listen to a huge number of contributors from diverse backgrounds across Europe. In doing this, it will gain new knowledge and insights to support the development of missions created to inform the Autumn Call for at least five experimental, pilot Bauhauses to be established in different European countries.
‘The Commission needs to plant the seeds’
Commissioner Elisa Ferreira indicated that the design phase is needed to create some ‘seeds on the ground’ in order to stimulate and achieve some roots. She stated, “Using the metaphor of a plant or a tree, the Commission needs to plant the seeds, take care of the emerging sprouts and harvest the fruits. And as in nature, the cycle repeats itself. The Commission needs to think of itself as a gardener in a fertile ecosystem helping the organic growth of a transformational project.”
The second unique factor is that the co-design phase is intended to be truly cross disciplinary with the involvement not only of the usual players. As Commissioner Gabriel stated, “We need new thinking new ideas and new impetus…. We wish to encourage stakeholders to encourage exchange beyond the usual circles for new ideas.”
Cross discipline insight gathering
The New European Bauhaus seeks to become a bridge between art, science, technology and design as well as a bridge between generations. It seeks to mobilise society to reflect on the way we wish to live in future.
The Commission is therefore calling for cross-discipline responses from a diverse universe of designers, architects, artists, students, creative thinkers, university researchers, technologists and engineers. BEDA’s Member will seek to stimulate discussions across Europe which can bring together voices from across these disciplines and areas of professional practice.
Toolkit to support conversations and workshops
The Commission has launched the NEB website as the main portal and capture mechanism for the co-design process. The website also offers a brief toolkit to support the conversations and workshops.
Furthermore, the Commission will organise complementary workshops and events across diverse Member States as they are clear that the initiative will only be a success if as many people as possible take part.
Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira, emphasised the three core values that lie at the heart of the New European Bauhaus.
These are sustainability, aesthetics – which brings with it the clear focus on the quality of interventions, and inclusion, which itself includes affordability, accessibility and the capacity of people to be part of it – especially those citizens without exceptional resources.
With the intention that over time the NEB should be relevant for all regions and all territories, Commissioner Ferreira stated her view that Cohesion policy is a natural partner of the initiative, citing the example that Cohesion already provides a well-established framework for sustainable urban development. She also highlighted Inclusion as being particularly relevant in order to promote the idea that “sustainability that is beautiful is an opportunity for the many”.
In response to a question comparing the New European Bauhaus with the original Bauhaus, Commissioner Ferreira expressed the view that the today, the final outcome is more challenging and more interesting than simply fulfilling the mantra of ‘form follows function’. She reminded the audience that both our concept of form and our concept of function have dramatically changed and are continuing to evolve in the light of technological developments and the urgent needs of the planet. Connecting the project back to its core goals she stated,
“The seed of this initial concept is very useful if citizens are to understand what we mean by a green, new way of development”.
New European Bauhaus Prize
Commissioner Gabriel spoke of the need for the Commission to stimulate creativity and uptake for the design phase. To this end, in the spring, the Commission will launch the New European Bauhaus prize. The first edition will offer prizes for existing initiatives, “concrete illustrations of the values we wish to enshrine in the NEB but which are already there in buildings, practices and methods”.
Winners will be identified through their participation in the design phase via the website as well as via referrals from the Commission’s key partners. The intention is that by the summer, around twelve winners will receive approximately €30,000 to support their wider story-telling through communication products, documentaries and exhibitions.
Later editions of the prize will promote new ideas and new thinking.
The Commission is placing a permanent open call for partners on the NEB website. They are looking to identify and connect with creators, businesses and stakeholders who will remain its special partners throughout the initiative. BEDA has already indicated its interest in supporting the programme in this way.
On its own part, the Commission pledged to continue to work with the Office of the Commission President and the College of Commissioners as well as the European Council for Innovation and the EIT as the project evolves.
High-level round table
Because stakeholder involvement from all walks of life is crucial to success of the initiative, the Commission has announced that it will also establish a high level round table of 12 – 15 individuals from various backgrounds and fields of expertise, in order to facilitate a dynamic exchange of views across creativity, technology, urbanism and design, along with expertise related to the social sciences.
BEDA’s on-going role
BEDA is not only focused on the valuable contribution that BEDA Members across Europe will bring to the co-creation process for the New European Bauhaus initiative.
BEDA also welcomes the opportunity to work closely with the Commission team on an ongoing basis, to further support their work as they move through the analysis phase and subsequently work on developing the key missions which will arise out of the identified insights and clarify what is needed next.
The missions will seek to fulfil the Commission President’s vision for the citizens of Europe to be able to feel the tangible benefits of a new way of living in order to serve the planet as enshrined in the Green Deal. The capturing of the ‘weak signals’ of possible futures from across Europe building on a huge array of existing good practice will form the basis on which to design the Bauhauses to be called for.
Commissioner Gabriel in her opening remarks at the Press Conference, pointed out, “The end objective is to transform our reality in a sustainable way that implicates the whole of society”,
BEDA has a connected network of over 45 design association members across Europe. The representation among all these actors at the regional, national and international levels is very diverse. All BEDA’s members are driven by a strong belief in the value of design to both economy and society.
In the words of BEDA President Päivi Tahkokallio, responding to the launch of the design phase of the New European Bauhaus,
“BEDA’s members stand open at this unique moment to actively support the Commission to ensure the New European Bauhaus can achieve its visionary and timely goals. As BEDA President I am happy to commit BEDA to further evolve its engagement in order to best serve Europe through design.”