Key areas of focus

The OPUS project is concerned with several key questions. How can the public realm of cities form and transform culture in the European city in the 21st century? How can open urban spaces contribute to more integrative and inclusive cities?

We see the inclusive city as open, accessible, lively, cohesive, diverse, democratic and inviting intercultural dialogue and integration. These issues cluster into five major areas (although there is considerable overlap between each):

Open space for the integrative city
Key issues include: The cultural meaning of public space. Open space for cultural integration. New types of users including tourists, new immigrants and residents, children, teenagers, the elderly, homeless, etc. Diversity of use. Conflict and control. Inclusive space. Participation and proactive practice. Physical activity, health and active engagement. Safety and security. Best practices and emerging methods for making integrative places and cities.

New and evolving forms of inclusive open space
Key issues include: Culture outside buildings. New types of public space as centers of cultural life. New forms of public space. Changing uses and habits of the public realm. Hanging out. Virtual and real spaces. IT issues – privacy, mobile phone, etc. Being private in public space. Movement into places and from place to place. Flexible spaces. Redefining public space as connected/integrative places.

Changing images of the inclusive city
Key issues include: How does open space change the image of cities. Changing perceptions and expectations of cities. Places for identity building. Finding common ground of the perceptions of different groups. Open space for economy and commerce. Marketing and branding the city based on physical spaces. Urban spaces and economic development.

Recreational shopping in public space
Key issues include: How shopping and commercial activities inform and transform the public realm of cities. Open space as production versus consumption. The “7-11” as public space.

The cultural landscape as public space
Key issues include: Natural and cultivated landscape as open urban spaces. Cultural life at the city fringe. New cultural landscapes. Liminal places and found places. Playful landscapes. Green and soft infrastructures. Ecological sustainability and public open space.