Design against Decline – Border Sessions

Design against Decline

We started the European Street Design Challenge in 2009 with the aim of bringing together teams of young designers, artists and architects from sometimes radically different cultural backgrounds to design new urban community solutions through the use of open and collaborative design methodologies, digital tools and prototyping in such cities as Paris, Amsterdam, Cairo and St. Petersburg. We learnt that it takes time to gain the trust needed to cross cultures, really co-design with local people and enthuse policy makers. But when it all comes together, it is worthwhile, because it brings new perspective, greater inclusion and ownership. Now comes the toughest challenge to date – gather designers together from around the globe in May to design a new form of rural town and community, based on the organic unification of environment, production, and living, in a remote, beautiful, and unspoilt corner of China. The aim is to stem rural depopulation through cross-cultural collaborative design, whilst promoting a new, environmentally friendly way of life and production. Our Chinese partners call it Lucitopia – ‘ a lucid utopia in the real world’. A dream of Confucian harmony or a practical, new form of rural community valid beyond the borders of China? Can design influence policy makers in this remote Chinese setting? I will report.


Andrew Bullen has spent his working life moving between creative disciplines, cultures and societies: From working for the Brecht family in East Berlin, to university teaching in West Berlin, Sussex, Berlin, Amsterdam and Utrecht. He co-founded the pioneering Europe Online in Luxembourg, directed the Media Guild Creative Industries incubator in Amsterdam and the Futur en Seine Festival in Paris. He is founder of the Creative Cooperative, co-creator of the European Street Design Challenge (ESDC) and he has created and run citizen co-design and social entrepreneur workshops for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Georgia, Cairo and Alexandria.



Thursday 14 June


12:15 - 12:45

Session type



Theater aan het Spui – The Great Magnet