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New European Bauhaus:
How Do We Design the Irresistible Circular Society?

Through the New European Bauhaus initiative, we will accelerate the green transition and create a circular society that is truly irresistible

This project is a part of our theme
Green transition

In the fall of 2020, President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen launched the vision for a New European Bauhaus.

It’s an initiative that kickstarted an ecosystem dialogue in BLOX, including the DDC. 

Stakeholders from architecture, design, business, technology, sustainability, arts, science, and construction met to share different points of view and discuss how we can build a more sustainable, inclusive future.

If you scroll down, you’re able to download and read a report our work on this project.

The Challenge: How to make EU a leader in circular economy

How can we shape more beautiful, sustainable, and inclusive ways for us to live together? This is the challenge posed by the EU Commission, and it comes from the need to begin a wave of renovation work. By 2050, at least 75% of today’s buildings will still exist and estimates suggest that 80 million housing units will need upgrading to nearly zero-energy buildings.

“I want NextGenerationEU to kickstart a European renovation wave and make our Union a leader in the circular economy. But this is not just an environmental or economic project: it needs to be a new cultural project for Europe”

Ursula Von der Leyen

President of the European Commission

This is both a built environment and a cultural issue. Through the initiative, we formed three project groups with participants from different fields. They’ve been working on the following three challenges set in a co-creation session early in 2020:  

  • Social values and communities
  • City nature, resilience, and biodiversity
  • Resource loops and zero waste

This preparatory work is done in an open process where the final outcome is to be defined after the New European Bauhaus call is published. Our approach to the openness of the process is based on the method of design-driven missions.

The Approach: Design as a core resource

The core of the design-driven mission’s approach is to challenge one’s own assumptions, bring empathy into play, provide space for experiments, and “rehearse the preferred future” through prototypes. Successful missions can be pursued via three different but interrelated dimensions: 

  • Setting direction (where to go)
  • Mobilizing ecosystems (with whom) 
  • Building capacity (how to get there)

Our mission is to design irresistible circular societies – to accelerate the green transition based on shared desires and values rather than need and necessity, by engaging citizens, businesses, and organizations in co-design processes with tangible results applicable at scale. 

We have designed a mission and collected a treasure chest of ideas for initiatives through several co-design events and workshops with citizens, businesses, and organizations. 

Since February 2021, we’ve developed and facilitated two workshops, three project group meetings, an international co-design workshop, and a youth event.

  • The partner group mobilized 150+ relevant organizations and companies by inviting relevant stakeholders to our events
  • We co-created 20+ initiatives that embrace inclusion, aesthetics, and circularity
  • We created a common language for stakeholders in different fields and a shared mission – to design an irresistible circular society

The chosen initiatives have significant impacts while building capacity in the ecosystem of stakeholders by breaking down professional borders and silos, hosting new dialogues across sectors and disciplines, and providing a space for new partnerships.

Our team has developed and facilitated the activities using design processes and collaborative design thinking. Participants have been encouraged to think freely and develop new insights and languages across different sectors.

Design tools such as ‘How might we…’ and the ‘Concept poster’ have challenged participants to look differently at how they can contribute to a more inclusive future.

The process itself has been designed to continuously open ideation and then consolidating the ideas and concepts in collaboration with representatives across the many disciplines, industries and geographic locations who participated to ensure inclusion across age, social status, and sectors. Transparency and broad inclusion have been vital elements as this process focuses on interdisciplinary interaction across citizens and generations in an accessible way.

Our next step is to summarize all inputs from the process. We’ll then apply to become one of the five lighthouses initiated by the EU Commission as pilot projects for the green transition.

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 CenterDanish 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.

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. 

It was the breaking point for a common call to action in the BLOX ecosystem. 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.

This project works on realizing the following actions

  • Courage
  • Collective Action
  • New story
  • Poetry
  • Planetary perspective

Christina Melander

Director of Digital Transition

Phone +45 2946 2922
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