Newsletter sub>urban. Reinventing the fringe | Brno in 4 words: temporary use, financing, gamification and moving forward

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Brno in 4 words: Temporary use, financing, gamification and moving forward
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Copyright: Martina Pacasova.

The network's Transnational meetings (TM) are the pillars of our sub>urban network, offering the opportunity for the partners to learn from each other and turn theory into practise by visiting interventions on the ground.

Host for the very last TM of our network before the final meeting in Barcelona, was the city of Brno.The end of the network nearing does not imply that our cities are resting on their laurels. No coincidence the theme of this TM was 'What's next?' with 2 subthemes in light of possible next steps: 'temporary use' and 'implementation and financing'. The interesting 3 day programme also included games and an interesting expo.

  • Brno, Czechia
  • 31 January - 2 February 2018
  • Central topic: 'What's next?'
  • Find the entire workshop programme here.


What is Brno all about?
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Copyright: Joan Caba.

In numbers

  • Size of the metropolitan area: 1.755 km²
  • Size of the city area: 230 km²
  • Density of the metropolitan area: 460 inh/km²
  • Density of the city area: 1600 inh/km²


Post-war urban growth in Brno was driven by the socialist economy, constructing factories to provide jobs and social housing. Since 2001, Brno has experienced a negative net migration balance, except for the 2007-2009 period.

Net outward migration was driven by young families moving out of the city to surrounding municipalities, resulting in increased commutes and residential patterns extending beyond the administrative confines.

This process has been stimulated by the development of new towns around the city perimeter during the post-socialist phase of the 1990s, with the emphasis shifting from urban-core high-rise developments under the Communist regime to detached family dwellings sprawling across the wider metropolitan area.

Nowadays, a significant share of the inflowing population consists of students and young employees. The main challenge for the city of Brno is to keep them in the city as qualified workforce for companies to grow and to refresh the aging city population. However areas to construct new housing developments decreases and prices rise rapidly.

The city of Brno has an important role to facilitate complicated development areas to answers these challenge.


Temporary Use
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Six cities talk about their experience on temporary use.

Like Rome, our city fringes too are not being built in a day. Reshaping urban structures and spaces does not happen over night. From conceiving the first idea to actually laying the first brick takes time. In seeking to dynamise redevelopment and create local ownership and involvement of the empty spaces on development sites during this period, we rely on temporary use

We identified 4 ways in which temporary use helps us to achieve this. It allows us to:

  • Accommodate unusual and innovative
    suspects in the city;
  • Collectively invent and explore new
    visions/destinations for urban areas;
  • Prototype and experiment new
    usages/functions of specific city areas;
  • Develop a “Slow” and inclusive urban


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Cooperation and shared costs with private partners in development areas. Experience from Brno City Chief Architect, Oslo Development Contracts, Antwerp Urban Development Costs and Brno neighbour Slovakia. (Left to right)

Thursday afternoon, Brno hosted a seminar on public-private partnerships and confinancing instruments, aimed at a broader audience than the network itself. This seminar perfectly captured the theme of the TM ‘what’s next’, how to manage urban development with less resources?

Inspiring presentations were given by the cities Antwerp, Brno, Oslo, Bratislava and Vienna on how they approached these issues and on what instruments they used. All five cities use instruments or negotiation approaches in order to get public space and amneties (partly) financed by the private developer. A remarkable fact which we've seen several times in the different presentations, is the full transparancy between all partners.

In the debate that followed, the audience got the opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the public-private cooperation on cofinancing.

If you are qurious for more, take a closer look at the presentations from Antwerp, Bratislava, Brno, Oslo.


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Solving puzzles to get to the next location on Red Hill. 

During the Transnational Meetings of sub>urban. Reinventing the fringe we have encoutered many different ways to get to know a project area: from classic presentations to new and innovative ways like gardening, an event with keynote speakers and a dj, a bus ride et cetera. Yet Brno surprised us with a new and fun way: gamification.

All partners were divided into different groups. To get to the next location you needed to solve puzzles that where connected to the site location: Red Hill. 

Red Hill is close to housing estates. It is a green hill with harden alotments, but with no clear structure or plan. You can see private housing but also datchas - recreational infrastructure on allotment gardens.

Games are a good way to wake up participants, step out of the comfort zone, activate team spirit and get to know a site on the ground. 


Moving forward
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The mayor Jana Drápalová gave a personal tour and highlighted the parts where involvement of the citizens is important. 

Panel blocks

On the 1st of February, our Brno visit led us to the city quarter 'Novy Liskovec' that underwent a profound revitalisation. The tour was guided by mayor Jana Drápalová who was the driving force behind this process.  

Novy Liskovec originally consisted of large post-war housing estates in need of renovation. Measures in terms of coping with erosion and excessive rainfall, as well as improving walkability and redesigning public space, were direly needed.

Tributary to the moto 'lead by example', it was the local government that started renovating its own housing estates to low-energy buildings. Particularly interesting was the way citizens were involved in a participatory way, for example by helping to plant trees.

The private sector followed soon after and today, Novy Liskovec can proudly call itself a sustainable city quarter. 

That evening, we had the opportunity to visit an exhibition in the Morava Gallery on 'panel building'. More on this exhibition in the below item!

Curious for more? Take a look at the presentation of mayor Jana Drápalová.

Expo 'Panelland'

As mentioned in the above item, the TM's last evening led us to an exhibition called 'Panelland: normalisation of housing units'.

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Panelland: normalisation of housing units

The term normalisation invokes the effort by the party leadership to ensure saturation of the former communist consumer society with the massive construction of prefab housing estates, car manufacturies and the production of TV entertainment programmes after the Praque Spring in 1968. This period can be perceived as a big social experiment which brought a huge portion of the population into changed living and social conditions.

The exhibit illustrates the uninviting and lethargic environment of the housing estates at the time of their construction but also how the standardiation of the housing units lead to a new furniture and new living habits.


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