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Analysis: The New European Bauhaus – Rethinking Our Cities through Design

05. Aug 2022

This report offers three main points to guide the development of the New European Bauhaus project launched by the EU. The points are relevant for decision-makers and creatives looking to take part in Europe’s mission-driven green transition


The vision for a New European Bauhaus (NEB) for a green transition was launched by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, on October 14, 2020. Offering a mission-oriented approach, the report – first published on January 20, 2021 – dives into how the final mission should be shaped and what opportunities lay ahead.

We believe that a New Bauhaus can be the generator for a New Europe’s imagination. But the details of which version of the Bauhaus—and how it addresses the missions a New Bauhaus pursues—are crucial

From A New Bauhaus for a Green Deal report

What we found

  • The New European Bauhaus is an opportunity to rethink the cities of Europe and how we live in them
  • Creative forces like architecture, design and art need to drive Europe’s green transition
  • Our greatest challenge regarding the green transition is our behavior and culture. They need to change for us to make better political and financial decisions

The authors point out that we can imagine how the green transition should look and feel with NEB and using design as a method. And that process makes it possible to realize Europe’s green transition through new systems, markets, cultures, and changed behavior. The mission-oriented approach opens possibilities for experimentation across aesthetics, forms of expression, and new ways of living, building, and working in future cities.

Because of the approach, NEB challenges the balance of power between decision-makers, citizens, and society and makes possible a new way of bottom-up citizen participation in shaping our green future.

What we explored

The authors explore how the New European Bauhaus becomes the driver of Europe’s green transition, especially rethinking our cities and how we live in them. The NEB call is a fundamentally new way for the EU to conduct a bid. The process has been open and experimenting, consisting of workshops, festivals, competitions, and the like. The EU didn’t present a fixed definition of the project from the beginning but has shown how to truly mobilize people around and create a long-term mission.

Who should read it

  • Decision-makers from both government and business
  • Designers and architects who want to contribute to and lead the green transition in Europe – designing our irresistible circular society

How we did it

The report is a result of the collected knowledge of the four authors:

  • Christian Bason, CEO, DDC – Danish Design Center
  • Rowan Conway, Policy Fellow and Head of IIPP’s Mission-Oriented Innovation Network, UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose
  • Dan Hill, Visiting Professor, UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose; Director of Strategic Design, Vinnova
  • Mariana Mazzucato, Director, UCL Institute of Innovation and Public Purpose

The authors wrote the report in response to the European Union’s ambitious New European Bauhaus program. The report reflects the link between the Bauhaus program and the New European Green Deal.

The report was first published on January 20, 2021. Download the full report here

About the New European Bauhaus initiative

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, launched the vision for a New European Bauhaus for the first time in her September 2020 “State of the Union” speech. 

The initiative aims to connect the European Green Deal to our living spaces. The EU Commission is working from a collaborative design approach and has invited all Europeans to participate. 

The New European Bauhaus is a movement in the making with the objective to imagine and build a better and greener tomorrow.

Read more about Denmark’s NEB bid here.

DESIRE – Designing an Irresistible Circular Society

The launch of the NEB initiative was the breaking point for a common call to action in the BLOX ecosystem. The BLOX partners (the Danish Architecture Center, Danish Design Center, BLOXHUB, and Creative Denmark), with The Confederation of Danish Industry (DI), were given the support to take the lead on the process on behalf of the ecosystem and to act as facilitator based on a clear objective and vision of creating a shared Danish proposal: DESIRE – Designing an Irresistible Circular Society.

More than 150 businesses, designers, universities, researchers, artists, architects, associations, scientists, students, and anyone in between within the built environment have contributed to defining the mission of designing the irresistible circular society – and co-created the framework and the themes that constitute the core concept of our bid.

In the spring of 2022, DESIRE succeeded the call of proposals as one of the five NEW EUROPEAN BAUHAUS Lighthouse Demonstrators, and we are looking forward to getting into action. 

We’ll develop principles and approaches to create an irresistible circular society across Europe. The solutions will be tested in eight locations in Denmark, Italy, Latvia, Slovenia, and the Netherlands, creating a sustainable and inclusive way forward for supporting the European Green Deal.

Related articles, tools, cases, and projects:

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