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The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is the European Commission's science and knowledge service which employs scientists to carry out research in order to provide independent scientific advice and support to EU policy.
In September, the Commission adopted an official communication on the New European Bauhaus, taking inspiration from six months of conversation with thousands of individuals and organisations across Europe and beyond.
The Communication sets out the concept of the initiative, as well as several policy actions and funding possibilities to drive it forward.
It also puts down in black and white three key, connected transformations that will guide activities in the months and years ahead:
But what do these transformations actually mean? Where do the ideas come from? And what is the Commission doing to help make them happen?
This month we spoke to three more members of the New European Bauhaus high-level roundtable: a group of 18 experts, including designers, innovators, activists, and academics who were involved in the co-design of the initiative. Their insights give some context to these transformations and what’s needed to make them happen.
For Pia Maier Schriever, an architect and set designer based in Berlin, the New European Bauhaus “brings together a new shared vision and concrete proposals for action to actively shape our common future, in the sense of combining climate protection with culture, art, and architecture”.
Transforming places on the ground means taking inspiration from that shared vision to transform the built environment, and how people live and interact in that environment.
Icelandic-Danish artist Olafur Eliasson notes that success will require “a strong focus on community learning, on empathy, and on social engagement as key drivers for collaboration across various fields of expertise. We need to trust these modes of working together, instead of letting short-term decisions, aimed at winning the next election, get the upper hand”.
Thiëmo Heilbron, a Dutch ecologist who specialises in inclusive sustainability and sustainable entrepreneurship education for children, says, “Time is short. We need to tackle multiple problems at the same time. We cannot save climate and nature, whilst forgetting people, and we cannot save people, whilst forgetting to save climate and nature”.
As a starting point, the European Commission is mobilising funds to support several pilot projects. This includes a call for proposals to deploy ‘lighthouse demonstrators’ for the New European Bauhaus initiative in the context of the Horizon Europe missions, with the aim of finding innovative solutions and acting as a testbed for future activities.
The lighthouse demonstrators will combine the key principles of the New European Bauhaus (sustainability, inclusion, and aesthetics) with a mission-oriented approach (impactful, measurable, targeted). The supported projects will engage with communities and employ architecture, design, and culture to achieve transformational impact.
Success in the New European Bauhaus is also about integrating sustainability, inclusion, and aesthetics in new solutions and products. Having an environment that enables that innovation will be key. To do so will also require us to question our perspectives and mind-set.
Thiëmo highlights that “across Europe, there are inspiring, highly motivated and very adequate people who want to make the change necessary for a happy and fair world for all”.
Olafur adds that “we need to enlist the visions of a broad spectrum of creative workers to address the climate crisis and the change of values that is needed for states, corporations, institutions, and individuals to engage in visible and adequate climate action”.
According to Pia, “in order to really turn visions for a sustainable future into reality, a joint interdisciplinary exchange and truly active cooperation of the most diverse disciplines and fields is essential. The next step for this visionary transformation, in my opinion, is the formation of interdisciplinary expert committees that develop concrete recommendations for action on individual topics and fields”.
Recognising the need to build on the momentum of the first months of the New European Bauhaus initiative, and continue the exchange across disciplines, the Commission is establishing a New European Bauhaus Lab. The Lab will be a space for innovation, to co-create, prototype, and test tools, solutions, and policy actions to facilitate transformation on the ground. If you are interested in joining the Lab, consider applying to become a partner of the initiative.
On a mission to foster the New European Bauhaus transformation, the European Institute of Innovation and Technology is looking for the most innovative companies driving sustainable and inclusive change for cities, industries, climate, food, wellbeing, and overall quality of life to support their business growth and help them become international game-changers.
The European Commission's Joint Research Centre, in collaboration with the European Laboratory for Structural Assessment (ELSA) Reaction Wall and the Nanobiotechnology Laboratory, is seeking cross-border proposals for projects that will experiment, prototype, and demonstrate ideas for the New European Bauhaus. The conjoint initiative aims to foster creativity and innovation in the built environment by establishing a collaborative bridge between academics and research organisations, industry, and SMEs. If you have a project that revolves around smart and sustainable materials, green renovation and inclusive design, you might want to check-out this opportunity.
For Olafur, cultural workers and educators can offer knowledge and practices, “to address the climate emergency, to develop narratives and frameworks that can touch people and help inspire us to move toward climate neutral living”.
For Thiëmo, “accessible and inclusive education for all”, is key. “By combining self-development with sustainability and an entrepreneurial mindset, and starting as young as possible, sustainable and inclusive behaviour can become the norm”.
Pia highlights why building a new vision is so important: “Europe needs a common vision, a common ground that makes us feel our great common cultural heritage and our common values more strongly again and also unites us for the future to work together as a common European Union and live together as Europeans in a sustainable world”.
Building the common vision is also about recognising and taking inspiration from the good examples we already have in Europe.
The Commission is setting up a New European Bauhaus Knowledge Sharing Platform under LIFE (the EU’s funding instrument for the environment and climate action) for sharing good and inspiring examples. Join the hybrid conference Beautiful, sustainable, together: LIFE in the New European Bauhaus on 15-17 November. The event will showcase inspiring projects of behavioural change, urban transformation, and innovative nature-based solutions.
The first New European Bauhaus Prizes also celebrate existing achievements and support the younger generation to further develop emerging concepts and ideas. The 2021 edition received more than 2,000 applications from all EU Member States. A virtual exhibition presents the winning entries and all the applications received can be explored online as well. Stay tuned for the second edition of the Prizes that will be launched in early 2022.
When it comes to education, the Commission is launching several dedicated calls in 2022, including an eTwinning call funded by the Erasmus+ Programme, on the theme of ‘Our future beautiful, sustainable, together: Schools and the New European Bauhaus’.