Cities in transition: physical and cultural renovation

1° ENTO StudyLab in Slavutych (Ukraine) on 23-26 October 2018

The SummerLab in Charleroi consisted in a series of workshops aimed at defining the new concept of ENTO Study Tours, taking as a reference the first edition that will be held in Slavutych (Ukraine) from 23 to 26 October 2018.

Participants to the SummerLab worked intensively to the definition of the agenda and of the conditions for participating. A special thanks goes to the members of the Organization Committee.

So, we are very pleased to present the results of the work.

In attach to the present Newsletter you can find the Guidelines to ENTO members, which offer detailed information on logistical and administrative issues.

A couple of words should be deserved to the topic  chosen for the StudyLab.

As the visit to Charleroi clearly underlined, many times in their lives cities, towns and more generally communities find themselves in a transition phase.

It could derive from an economic crisis, a shift in the main industrial vocation of the area, as it was the case of Charleroi. It could even come from an extraordinary event, as it was the Chernobyl disaster for Slavutych.

In such a transition phase, local governments are generally in the front line and are called to lead the community towards a safety and prosperous future.

Generally, exiting the crisis requires a rethinking of the community intimate identity. Such a change is not easy to lead. It implies a shift in the local culture, so as to say in the set of assumptions, values and shared norms that inspire citizens’ way of life.

Such a shift can be observed in the prevailing behaviors within the community.

Such a shift also involves the city physical appearance: its buildings, its public and private spaces.

There is a strong interconnection between the external look and the inner spirit of the community. On one way, the look is the mirror of the inner spirit. On the other, changes in the physical appearance influence the citizens’ attitude.

From this point of view, all local authorities share the same mission of the Bouwmesteer Team in Charleroi: to rebuild the city in its physical appearance bat also in its mentality.

How can a local government exercise an effective leadership in the transition phase? Which kind of actions have been proving to be effective in the practice? Which are the implication for policy-making and public management?

We would like to take the opportunity of the visit to Slavutych to reflect on these issues together.

 

City in transitions: the experience of Charleroi

A visitor who arrives at Charleroi has immediately the impression of a City in transition.  Newly regenerated squares and streets, new residential buildings and malls, an attentive refurbishing of urban furniture, like benches and garbage cans. It is a city that wants to leaf beneath its shoulder the long economic crisis connected with the fall down of the traditional mining and steal industry. But of course transition is never easy to lead. Big parts of the city centre, occupied during the crisis by drug sellers and prostitutes are repaved and enlighten in a fashionable way. But still empty of people. Charleroi transition is not just a spontaneous one. It is the result of the Municipality strategy.

For this transition, a specific team of architects, urbanists and designers has been created within the local administration. The team is under the lead of Mr.Georgios Maillis, Bouwmeester de Charleroi. The name of the positions comes from Flemish language, one of the three official languages in Belgium, and means “Master of construction”. 

It is a name historically rooted that underline the responsibility of re-building the city.As Ms. Pauline Cabrit, a French landscape architect member of the team and working in Belgium since 2013, clearly stated, the aim of the Bouwmeester Office is to rebuild Charleroi, both physically and mentally. It is an effective way to say that the job cannot be considered finished when the construction site is completed. A cultural construction site needs to be managed, too. It involves people perceptions, expectations and behaviors. How to effectively manage such a work is a good question to be deepened in next StudyLab in Slavutych (Ukraine).

More information: http://www.charleroi-bouwmeester.be/

 

In Houyet the railway station becomes a meeting point for citizens and tourists

Houyet is famous for the castle occupied by the Belgian Royal Family as country residence. A second and maybe most important reason for being so famous consists in being the birthplace of our friend Pierre Petit. And it is not by chance that the Mayor of Houyet’ surname is also “Petit”. Mr. Yvan Petit is the mayor of the village for many years and he is also the big brother of Pierre.

So it was a sort of family visit the one we had in Houyet and it gave us the chance to learn about the steps a small village in Belgium is undertaking in order to remain attractive for residents who mainly commute to other cities and to tourists who still bring on the traditional vocation of the area.

Today ca. 4’000 people live in the 10 settlements that merged together as a result of Wallonian territorial reform. The municipal surface is incredibly big compared to the number of inhabitants: more than 122 square kilometer.

Of most interest is the Railway Station, which was transformed in a public space for citizens who need information about municipal services but also take part to ICT cou

rse

s to improve their knowledge of computers and internet. It is also a welcome point for tourists who come there for visiting such a gorgeous countryside, for wandering and cycling or for canoeing along the Leese River.

Thank you Pierre and thank you, Yvan for your great hosting!

 

More information (in French) on: http://www.houyet.be/

 

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