Shared Cities: European Prize for Urban Public Space

21 July — 9 August 2015

The form of the city is intimately related with democracy.  This is the thesis of the European Prize for Public Space, which, since 2000, has recognised and publicised the processes of transformation and improvement of public spaces in Europe.

Cities are far from being an idyllic paradise. Now, when more than half the world’s population lives in urban environments, cities are facing threats that raise serious doubts about their future. Europe, which, throughout history, has created cities that are exemplary in terms of density, human scale and complexity, is no longer exempt from these risks.  Exorbitant growth, social and spatial segregation, neglect of outlying areas and predominance of the private vehicle are some of the problems that presently endanger the ideals of equality and freedom, which have been associated with the European city since its very beginnings.

Fortunately, however, Europe also offers many admirable examples of improvement in its public spaces. These are works that, sensitive to their context, value the political and social dimensions of urban spaces. They look respectfully back to the past while also holding out sustainable solutions with future generations in mind. They are conceived in the awareness that peripheral zones are also part of the city’s identity and that contact with nature and water, is a resource that must be conserved, in the best interests of all. These are proposals that understand public space as a place for equality, redistribution of resources and recognition of minorities. They are interventions that give priority to access over barriers of every kind, and encourage appropriation of the city by its citizens. From Glasgow to Istanbul, and from Lisbon to Bucharest, the European Prize for Urban Public Space has become a privileged observatory of the problems and solutions that have now come to characterise European cities.

“Shared Cities” is an exhibition of the best twenty-five works submitted for the eighth award of a Prize that the CCCb organises with the Architekturzentrum Wien (Vienna), la Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine (Paris), the Architecture Foundation (London), the Museum of Finnish Architecture (helsinki), the Museum of Architecture and Design (Ljubljana) and the Deutsches Architekturmuseum (Frankfurt).