On February 18th, 2023, a gathering of over 2,000 demonstrators convened in the heart of Oxford UK to express their apprehension about the potential impact of the "climate lockdown" promoted by the municipality's Plan of Low Traffic Neighbourhood, a town planning initiative founded on the principles of 15-minute city planning. This event underscores the importance of co-creation in planning for urban transformations. All who may have a stake in the outcomes of change should be welcomed to participate, contribute and understand the decisions that are taken. ENACT 15mC responds to the need for local and central governments to engage in dialogue with their citizens on how to make urban areas more sustainable in land use and transport terms. Co-creation approaches combine applied research and innovation-oriented approaches within an Urban Living Lab (ULL), bringing together citizens, municipalities and other stakeholders involved in managing and transforming urban places, to jointly co-create solutions to urban planning and placemaking.
Urban development has traditionally encouraged car mobility, which in turn has led to many urban areas becoming less attractive for modes of active travel - walking and. This has led to development policies that have separated land-use activities and favoured access by the private car along city streets. Meanwhile, the public realm has been eroded and the environment made more hostile to those wishing to move around on foot or cycle. Unsurprisingly, this has led people to walk and cycle less, as their neighbourhoods have become more oriented towards driving.
The ENACT 15mC project consortium will combine its expertise in co-creation with state of the art innovations in digital visualising technologies for urban planning and placemaking. The potential for developing neighbourhoods and districts within the 15mC will be actively tested through demonstration of possible land-use interventions using Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR). Currently available AR technologies, alongside new ones to be developed by our industry partners, will be made available for use in co-creation workshops and the wider public in four different case study sites located in Norway, Poland,Spain, and the UK. The project outputs will lead to guidelines for engaging communities that can be used throughout Europe and beyond. By utilising this approach, the ENACT 15mC partnership will understand the characteristics of inclusive, accessible and attractive 15mCs and the processes that can help create them, through robust research and experimentation with innovative and accessible technologies.
ENACT15mC will (re)imagine urban public spaces and streets to make them more walkable, cyclable, and pleasant to spend time in. We will engage residents coming from diverse backgrounds and ability, property owners and local municipalities in thematically distinct urban living labs (ULLs) to co-create ideas for street and neighbourhood transformations. The living labs will address spatial and functional issues that currently challenge walkability in Trondheim, Gdansk, Valencia and Oxford. These cases each have different cultural, climatic and geographic contexts that design thinking must respond to. Iterative design processes through the living labs will be supported by novel Augmented and Virtual Reality technologies. Visualising technologies will be made available to the public, along streets, in public spaces and during co-creation workshops. We aim to break down barriers with coaching and to compare use of these tools alongside others, including tactical urbanism, mapping and physical modelling. These comparisons will lead to new knowledge around co-creation processes.
Enact 15mC will develop, contextualise and test methods for (re)distributing street space in favour of sustainable mobility options and the social dimension of streets and places. This will lead to new knowledge about walkable and attractive places in European contexts. Knowledge specific to each of the four consortium cities will be made available to policymakers, property owners and the public. Guidelines based on the experiences of all four living labs will be presented as guidelines on designing for walkability and active transport, urban co-creation processes and the use of technologies and other tools in public engagement. The ENACT 15mC project will therefore make a critical contribution to debates and understanding on the 15mC and its contribution to urban transitions for sustainable cities.