More than 70 percent of Europe’s population lives in cities, and that number is expected to grow to 80 percent by 2050. As European cities further densify, they must find new solutions to ever-worsening problems, like congestion, pollution, and poverty. To stay ahead of these challenges, cities must remain the nexus of innovation.
This is the goal of the European Commission (EC)’s Urban Innovative Actions program, which seeks bold projects that can push forward innovation in urban planning and design throughout the Union.
Projects, which must be submitted by an urban government with a population of at least 50,000 people, can receive up to €5 million over three years. From now through 2020, the EC will be offering €372 million for these urban experiments.
A general lack of urban experimentation is why the EC created the program. As the EC explains, “many urban planners and authorities have proposed new and innovative ideas, but these solutions are not always put into practice. One of the reasons is that urban authorities are reluctant to use their own financial resources to fund ideas that are new, unproven, and hence risky. Budget constraints therefore limit the capacities of urban authorities for experimentation.”
But several cities didn’t wait for the EU. In 2015, Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo invited the world’s best architects to ‘reinvent’ the French capital.
The competition called for environmentally friendly urban designs to transform sites such as public spaces and unloved tower blocks. The Guardian article linked to below highlights a selection of the 23 winning proposals, including the redesign of an abandoned train station, pictured above.