The Project “Initiative of civic involvement of young people: participatory design for public spaces” (YPLAN) intends to develop the perception of public spaces issues in the cities, taking into account the high degree of the quality of public space affecting the environment, social welfare and the economic urban areas.
We believe that social empowerment is fundamental in creating high quality public spaces with community participation. Increasingly more bottom-up initiatives and “grassroots” confirm that urban transformation is not strictly an action of decision makers, but it belongs at the same extent to local communities. Therefore, raising awareness and involving the youth early on in “placemaking” practices and participatory design of public space is very important. The next generation needs sustainable and livable urban spaces adjusted to their needs. Their involvement in participatory planning can help them to become proactive citizens, who can act as actors for any action proposed by the municipality or by third parties in public.
The importance of urban planning in post-communist countries, is even more obvious because these countries are currently in the process of transition from a centralized and controlled planning to a more flexible, adaptable and participatory planning under the auspices of good governance. The transfer of best practices from countries that have a long tradition of local democracy and youth participation in planning, can greatly enhance this transition process.
Our aim is therefore to proceed with participative design to empower youth and local community as users, to rebuild and adapt public spaces which we will be chosen in the project (at the solution and implementation level), in order to develop truly livable and appropriate urban landscapes.
It is important to mention that YPLAN project is not an initiative at the beginning. Over the past six years, our team has developed and implemented the “precursors” of this idea from research in the field to proper work with students, urban education in schools and ultimately, in projects with young people.