F.Kent: “We need a bench on every corner”

Last night, the acting mayor of Valencia, Joan Ribó, inaugurated Placemaking Week Europe 2019, the largest European festival on urban future, with over 400 professionals from around the world participating in the Marina de València (Spain).

“Cities are not simply drawn on a map on the desk of an enclosed office. We will only succeed in creating cities tailored to people’s needs if it is people who collectively design their city.” With these words, the acting mayor of Valencia, Joan Ribó, addressed last night the more than 400 professionals gathered from all over the world to work these days on the development of cities and the transformation of public space. This is the purpose of Placemaking Week Europe 2019, the largest European urban co-design festival taking place in the Marina de València (Spain) from 12 to 15 June.

The opening ceremony was attended by two international leaders in urban development: Fred Kent, the driving force behind Placemaking, and Charles Landry, the father of the “creative city” concept.

Kent: “We need a bench on every corner”

“The best places have the best social life,” stated Kent, who identified the people as the actual “experts” in co-designing cities as a place where “life is to be generated”. “We are all attracted to good places, we flourish in them,” Kent explained, “by creating places that fill up with people, that work, we will have succeeded in their design.” In that context, Kent posed a challenge: “We need a bench in a thousand corners every year.” The urban thinker linked his speech with the transformation of the Marina de València, which “used to be a desert and now has become a fantastic venue. Kent also praised the recently opened bathing area at the interior dock, as an initiative that will encourage coexistence: “the pleasure of water, you have to be close, you have to touch it”.

Llorens: “The experience of rethinking this urban space is of interest to everyone.”

The General Manager of Consorcio Valencia 2007, the managing body of La Marina de València, Vicent Llorens, welcomed the audience and stressed that “the experience of rethinking this urban space (La Marina) is of interest to everyone”. Llorens also focused on people: “We care about the almost 8 million people visiting the Marina last year.” The General Director emphasized the power of “the beautiful and powerful” in “the small actions” as a key to the productive activation process and the citizen appropriation of the Marina de València, a transformation of international reference. As an example, he quoted two initiatives: recovering the old modernist Pergola with the music of the bands of Poblats Marítims, or retaking the old custom of bathing in the port with the newly introduced bathing area.

Ch. Landry: “How do we define ‘prosperity’? Is it money or is it something else?”

Charles Landry also spoke in favour of “human-centred cities, focussing on people with rights and responsibilities”. Landry explained that a “creative city” is one that always asks questions. For example: “How do we define ‘prosperity’? Is it money or is it something else?” In a workshop today, on Thursday, Landry will also develop the concept of “creative bureaucracy,” the need to rethink the rules and forms of communication in the 21st century.

“You can help us transform this space into one of the most inclusive, sustainable, accessible and participatory waterfronts in the world,” said Ramon Marrades, Strategic Director of CV07. And it’s actually happening. During the morning, hundreds of people registered in the festival worked in La Base in different workshops on issues such as the creation of a work space in Tinglado 4 suitable for upcoming challenges; the gentrification of the maritime district of Cabanyal; the design of humane cities with an “eye view rather than a bird’s eye view”, or the innovation in placemaking applied to waterfronts.

About Placemaking Week Europe 2019

Placemaking Week Europe 2019 is organised by the Marina de València, Stipo and European Placemaking, with the collaboration, among other entities, of the Associació València Capital del Disseny, Las Naves, Labora, F. Iniciativas, Ajuntament de València and Ajuntament de Tavernes de la Valldigna, as well as with the technical assistance of Creative Bureaucracy Festival, Placemaking X, Project for Public Spaces, Urbact, the European Commission, Un-Habitat and JPI Urban Europe.

For four days, La Marina de València will host more than 35 interactive workshops, visits, exhibitions, interventions in space, presentations, 20 master lectures and the participation of 150 speakers. There are five key topics: placemaking for innovation, creative bureaucracy, placemaking practices’ exchange of, the future of cities through placemaking, and maritime fronts. The sessions will take place in the Valencian dock (in La Base and in Tinglado 2) and in other municipalities such as Tavernes de La Valldigna and Alicante. The programme includes visits to Valencia (historic centre, markets, Maritime Villages, Jardín del Túria and “Valencia inacabada”) and various activities related to sailing and culture.

Placemaking Week Europe 2019 puts Valencia as a European point of reference in the policies for improving public space and urban innovation and consolidates the Marina de València as an international model for waterfront transformation.

All the information on the event can be found on the website www.placemakingweekeurope.com.