TURAS expert contact:
Philip Crowe
TURAS funded PhD, working a...



The transition challenge

Space is a limited resource, but in most urbanized areas it is not used efficiently, resulting in numerous negative social justice, ecological, and economic consequences. Diagnosing how space is used is essential for strategic city planning, but it is challenging to map, primarily due to the scale, fluidity and (in)visibility of the data. However, the information is known within the communities and therefore civic engagement on this issue is critical. Underused spaces can be opportunity spaces for civic engagement with place and urban systems, helping to build community capital and providing a spatial dimension to the adaptive capacity of a community to change. Underused spaces can also be opportunities for transformation, helping make the transition to the future resilient and sustainable city.

The TURAS integrated approach

Reusing the City provides ways to engage citizens, local government and other stakeholders with the issue of how space is used. The mapping of underused spaces can engage citizens and contribute to a comprehensive database that raises awareness and acts as a starting point for connecting ideas, future users and spaces. Reusing the City provides mechanisms to help citizens realize initiatives and uses that have social-ecological benefits on these spaces. This involves coordination and management of collaborative efforts as well as assistance in funding, business planning and the realisation of projects.


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Creating systemic Knowledge

In this integrated project, knowledge and awareness on underused spaces are generated through an online platform ("Space Engagers") that uses civic engagement through crowdsourcing information for an interactive and evolving map.
Alternatively, knowledge on how space is used can be generated using a controlled mapping process for a specific area ("Revitalising Spaces"). Epistemic and community networks ("ComPass", "Communities Directory"), connect, accumulate and share explicit or tacit knowledge between citizens and other stakeholders.

  • ...identifying local community assets that are underused

  • ...building up a compendium of case studies

  • ...generating an evolving map and knowledge bank on underused spaces using crowdsourcing and social media

  • ...gathering knowledge of groups and projects across an institution or local area
    ...categorising diverse groups by relevant organisational form and background

  • ...generating knowledge on underused and vacant spaces in defined urban areas using a controlled mapping process

  • ...developing an understanding of entrepreneurship as one part in a wider set of systemic interactions that include the community of users
    ...examining the system from the users’ point of view
    ...testing new ideas in realistic simulations reflecting the system in which they would operate in the real world.

Developing shared visions

Facilitating civic engagement on the issue of how space is used, with citizens contributing towards a map of opportunities for change in the city. Supporting and facilitating citizens through networks, knowledge and guidelines, in using space efficiently for social-ecological benefit.

  • ...supporting community driven actions in overcoming resource barriers to realising their ideas

  • ...activating the local community in order to enable them to identify and formulate their wishes, values and visions for local assets with a task force of transdisciplinary designers and community stakeholders

  • ...engaging citizens with the issue of how space is used in the city and encouraging more efficient use of this limited resource

  • ...identifying and making visible community groups in order to facilitate development of shadow networks for sharing visions, knowledge, solutions, experience and resources

  • ...maximising community opportunities to expand or set up new enterprises, ensuring space is used productively, and strengthening community capital

  • ...providing information at the micro-level of how innovative business models can be tailored to meet the needs of communities and places

Developing integrated strategies

A complementary range of tools is provided for understanding, locating and quantifying underused spaces, identifying assets ("CIC!"), engaging citizens with their place and one another, overcoming resource barriers ("Community Gains"), and bringing these opportunity spaces into productive community use.

  • ...identifying which groups would like to be more visible and to be available to connect
    ...creating an online-portal that provides information on these groups "at a glance view" and makes visible local services and projects offered to citizens

  • ...providing high level information on practical solutions and inspiring case studies, revealing opportunities to citizens

  • ...revealing hidden knowledge and an opportunity landscape of spaces for transformation, self-organisation and creativity

  • ...a collaborative process and community-based institutional model to set up a strategic management plan in order to develop inclusive pathways to develop local social and green assets

  • ...providing opportunities for the community to realise innovative ideas that revitalise underused spaces

  • ...connecting local authorities, entrepreneurs and representative members of the community for co-designing and pre-testing opportunities that are formulated around urban strategic sustainability challenges (e.g. urban space optimization, urban food systems, urban logistics,...)

Implementing transition activities

Underused spaces can be mapped using crowdsourcing and/or a controlled mapping process. Community capital can be generated through civic engagement, networking and community management tools. Guidelines for re-use of the spaces through competition, community asset management, localization of product service systems ("PSS Toolkit") are provided.

  • ...setting up a Community Interest Company (CIC) as a type of non-profit social enterprise that manages local assets and facilitates the development of skills and activities that benefit the community

  • ...providing guidelines through an online-tool, supporting citizens in setting-up and realising projects, with links to resources

  • ...setting up an online civic engagement platform and social media channels for the town or city, providing ongoing resources, setting up associated offline events such as tours, workshops, classes

  • ...setting up a collaborative dashboard that makes community groups visible and networked

  • ...setting up an online portal linking assets with potential users in a specific area, a competition process for ideas and proposals, and associated offline events

  • ...providing workshop methods based on system thinking and participatory design to inspire and pre-test potential business opportunities.
    ...testing the attractiveness and the feasibility of the implementation of the proposed system to gain a better understanding of how it could be implemented (through partial simulations, a detailed run-through of the service process, ongoing self-completed interviews with the stakeholders, etc.)


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