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The design-minded city of Valencia welcomed news of the Designscapes Open Call at a recent event, marked by some top figures in creativity and innovation.

Valencia is currently one of the European cities showing the greatest commitment to social and urban innovation initiatives. The presentation of the European H2020 project Designscapes, organised by Econcult of the University of Valencia last week, was a prime example of this innovative spirit.

Project leaders informed attendees about the currently open call for proposals, in which innovative solutions enabled by design are sought and financed to tackle the challenges faced by cities.

The event took place in a recently inaugurated creative space, called “Convent Carmen,” which was restored from the 400-year former Convent of San José and Santa Teresa in the El Carme neighbourhood. This new space aims to evoke the debate on the functionality of cultural spaces in the face of the great urban challenges through co-design and co-creation with its neighbours and active citizens.

As part of the inaugural events, the Designscapes Night attracted more than 100 people, most of whom came from the design and creative sectors. The night began with an interactive presentation highlighting the significance of the role of design in the urban environment. The guests included Ramón Marrades (Strategy Director of La Marina), Blanca de Miguel (Associate Professor at the UPV and member of the AiRT Project), Mª Luisa Peydro (Technician of the cultural sector of Las Naves), Javier Ibañez, (Technical Director of Las Naves), and Xavi Calvo (Graphic designer and design activist).

Photo: Econcult

All are key players committed to using design methodologies to generate innovative dynamics.

– Ramón Marrades highlighted the role of design techniques in the process of regeneration of public space and appropriation by citizens to accomplish strategic objectives of the maritime façade.

– Blanca de Miguel shared audience a story about how to utilise design thinking and other design tools to develop a drone oriented to the demand of the cultural and creative sectors.

– Mª Luisa Peydro and Javier Ibañez described the challenges of identifying and adjusting innovative projects in the bureaucratic logistics of public administration.

– Xavi Calvo explained some basic concepts of how design provokes behavioural changes and social transformations.

Dr. Francesco Molinari, manager of the Designscapes project, gave a vibrant speech about the project, highlighting the opportunity and convenience of connecting the three key concepts of innovation, culture, and city, and encouraging attendees to present their projects.

Dr. Chuan Li, researcher from the Econcult and team member of the project also delivered a tutorial presentation with a view to sharing with the audience some tips on addressing the priorities of the call for successful application.

The call for proposals aims to support 100 projects with a total of 1.5 million euros to spark design-enabled innovation by supporting feasibility studies, development of prototypes or scalability tests throughout Europe. The current call is available for eligible feasibility studies in the first phase.

More than ever, cities can provide the “laboratory” space for innovation to come to life. Designscapes is a unique opportunity to add concrete new experiments to this open, living lab.