A joint event of EU Human Cities partnership and AESOP Thematic Group Public Spaces and Urban Cultures

Ljubljana, May 24th - 26th 2017

Hosted by Urban Planning Institute of the Republic of Slovenia (UIRS) and University of Ljubljana, Faculty of architecture (UL-FA)


Call for abstracts


Shared values in diversified urban communities as a foundation for participatory provision of local public spaces



European partnership Human Cities (2008-2010, 2010-2012, 2014-2018) is addressing the issues of participatory approaches to contemporary urban design. A particular focus is on bottom-up initiatives that self-organise in order to improve public spaces in their living environments. Important pillars of the project are research, experimental and educational activities related to public spaces. The main goal is two-fold:  to help citizens develop the affinity to common urban spaces and strengthen their approaches to participatory re-design of these spaces, as well as to advance the theoretical foundations in the field of participatory provision of urban public spaces. It also stresses the importance of shared values of community members in relation to public urban spaces, among others empathy, wellbeing, intimacy, sustainability, conviviality, mobility, accessibility, imagination, leisure, aesthetics, sensoriality, solidarity and respect.

The AESOP Thematic Group Public Space and Urban Culture values a critical and constructive dialogue on the processes relating to series UNSTABLE GEOGRAPHIES – DISLOCATED PUBLICS (2016-2018) that equally involves researchers and practitioners, locals and guests. The proposed umbrella topic aims to explore and rethink relations among different concepts and meanings related to, on the one hand, cities facing austerity, crisis, and a variety of migrational patterns, and, on the other hand, a civic response in the form of emerging practices of self-organization, social innovation, and planners’ investments in building solidarity, hope, and trust. The topic has been approached in a dialectical manner and conceived as a dynamic framework that allows for the exploration of various (relational) aspects of public spaces and urban cultures, as well as socio-theoretical approaches to critically investigate and shape these spaces and cultures.



The current scenario in which the city is affected by austerity policies, crisis and dramatic migrational flows, it would be useful to approach to the public space agenda taking into account two main issues:

  • Practicing more inclusive pathways for provision of public space, including engagement of marginal and minority groups;
  • Experimenting long-term circular process in which public spaces' economic, social and cultural dimensions could be adapted to cater for increasing solidarity, environmental concerns and criticial heritage studies.

If the urban renewal process is to be undertaken in a particpatory way, the regeneration strategies shall be built around the values shared by local inhabitants and different stakeholders, such as NGOs, and local businesses. This call expresses the need to reflect on the distinctive social and cultural values expressed in public space, resulting in the finding that place attachments and idenfication with places are differently experienced and encountered by individuals and groups. The main obstacle is being the neoliberal drift that, by spreading individual and strictly private interests, is excluding instances of more vulnerable and disadvantages groups.

In order to address these challenges from various perspectives, UIRS has been developing and testing various approaches to participatory and  socio-cultural improvements of urban public space. Since 2014 it has been working on the issue jointly with three other partner institutions: civil initiative Skupaj na ploščad! (self organized group of local people in Ljubljana’s neighbourhood of Ruski car trying to improve the conditions of neighbourhood’s public spaces), Museum of Architecture and Design – MAO (national institution dedicated to rising awareness of the importance of high quality design of urban space)  and Department of Urban Planning at the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Ljubljana (main national institution educating future urban planners). The local partnership tests new methods and techniques to better understand the needs and aspirations of local inhabitants towards their living environments (https://humancities.uirs.si/en-gb/). The on-site activities within the Human Cities project have started in 2015 already and are on-going with major events to take place in Ljubljana in May 2017.

A three-day Ljubljana event in May 2017 is structured in three interrelated activities: a seminar, a workshop and a field-trip. The main purpose is to address the questions of revealing the values and expressions of more and more diversified urban communities as an important step-stone to a more inclusive provision of local public spaces. Several questions will be discussed during the forthcoming Ljubljana meeting:

  • How to (re)design and (re)organise local environments with socially, economically and ethnically more diverse communities in order to improve their capacity to act as a medium of social cohesion?
  • What kind of urban design solutions are robust enough to stand the changing nature of value systems over time?
  • How shall established methodologies (interviewing, perceptual mapping, cognitive mapping etc.) be upgraded/combined with new technologies and social networking media? What is the general usefulness and real value of the new ICT and crowd-sourcing in revealing people’s attitudes towards their living environments?
  • How can partnerships of local initiatives, residents, local and city authorities, urban planners and other players be maintained in a long term and transformed into a long-lasting cooperation forms for improving local public spaces?
  • What could be research practices in public space that offer an investigation into different perceptions/attitudes of social groups?

The contributors are invited to address these issues from various perspectives based on their practical and/or theoretical work. Thematic sessions will be organised upon the duly received abstracts.


Important Dates

Deadline for abstract submission is Monday13 March 2017

Please submit an abstract of 200-250 words along with a max 100 words biography (Word Document format) to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., the abstract outlining (1) issue/research problems, (2) its relevance for the conference theme, (3) background, (4) methodology and (5) expected results. Authors will receive notification regarding their abstracts and a format for submitting the full papers by Thursday 16 March 2017

Deadline for full paper submission is Tuesday 2 May 2017. Full papers will be published in an electronic version in a form of a conference book of papers. The authors of the selected papers will be encouraged to prepare their contributions in a form of scientific articles for the publication in the thematic issue of a scientific journal Urbani izziv / Urban challenge as a part of a post-conference production (http://urbani-izziv.uirs.si/en/Urbaniizziv.aspx). 


Preliminary Program

Wednesday 24 May
morning: Arrivals
Human Cities & AESOP joined seminar PUBLIC SPACES FOR LOCAL LIFE
Official dinner

Thursday 25 May
Workshops at Ruski car neighbourhood                     
Participatory intervention at Bratovševa ploščad platform (we will join local inhabitants and students in turning their central  public space around)
Photostory of our neighbourhood & Print-shop (we will upgrade the collection of resident’s photos and descriptions of the neighbourhood to promote local qualities and diversity: see also http://humancities.uirs.si/en-gb/)
Picnic Lunch
Human Cities exhibition opening
BIO Ljubljana 2017 openin

Friday 26 May
Human Cities Technical meeting | 14:00 Lunch
Field trip by boat: Ljubljanica Embankments & Public Space Improvements

Saturday 27 May



Participation in the event is free of charge.
Ljubljana meeting is interdisciplinary and targets to include actors with different perspectives. The main objective is to provide various insights and perspectives on public spaces therefore submissions from academics, practicing professionals and any interested person from any background are warmly invited.


Organizing and scientific committees

Organizing committee

Heloise Gautier, Sciences Po Rennes, France

Nina Goršič, Urban Planning Institute of the Republic of Slovenia, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Blaž Jamšek, Civil initiative Skupaj na ploščad!, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Natalija Lapajne, Museum of Architecture and Design, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Biba Tominc, Urban Planning Institute of the Republic of Slovenia, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Damjana Zaviršek Hudnik, Civil initiative Skupaj na ploščad!, Ljubljana, Slovenia


Scientific committee

Alenka Fikfak, Faculty of Architecture, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Weronika Mazurkiewicz, Gdansk University of Technology, Gdansk, Poland

Matej Nikšič, Urban Planning Institute of the Republic of Slovenia, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Stefania Ragozino, Institute of Research for Innovation and Services for Development, Naples, Italy



For further information on joint Human Cities and AESOP TG PS&UC Ljubljana meeting please contact:

Matej Niksic (Slovenia) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.,

Stefania Ragozino (Italy) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.,

Weronika Mazurkiewicz  (Poland) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.,

or use the general email address of the event This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Related links

Human Cities website: www.humancities.eu

Association of European Schools of Planning: Thematic Group for Public Spaces and Urban Cultures