Xavier Troussard: The new European Bauhaus will require strong cooperation from all levels of government | LeMaire.EU



Xavier Troussard: The new European Bauhaus will require strong cooperation from all levels of government

An in-depth interview with the head of the New European Bauhaus unit at the European Commission

Since December 2020, Xavier Troussard has headed the New European Bauhaus Unit created at the Joint Research Center. He joined the Joint Research Center (JRC) in 2014 to create and lead the development of the EU Policy Lab at the crossroads of the disciplines of anticipation (horizon scanning, prospective), behavioral sciences and design.

Before that, Mr. Troussard worked at DG Information, Communication, Culture and Audiovisual where he contributed to the establishment and development of EU audiovisual policy before representing the European Commission and leading the coordination of the EU in the negotiation of the 2005 UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.

Xavier Troussard graduated in law and general administration from the University of Rennes (France) and the College of Europe in European studies (Bruges, Belgium).

Mr. Troussard, what do you think are the main lessons from the first phase of the NEB?

ONE’s first phase shed light on the experiences, ideas and visions of thousands of people around the world about what makes our living spaces and lifestyles beautiful, sustainable and inclusive. A vibrant community of partners extended the conversation from the local to the international level, crossing perspectives across sectors and contexts.

Listening to all of these voices, it becomes evident that people care and want to engage in debating these issues and together shaping their future, through inclusive and sustainable practices and to rediscover what beauty means for them in their daily life.

This so-called ‘co-design phase’ also highlighted the importance of creating networks and communities to develop and support a new European Bauhaus movement to empower individuals and communities to lead the transformation in their context. local.

As explained in its communication adopted on September 15, this co-design phase also enabled the Commission to identify the fundamental axes that will guide the further development of the initiative: reconnecting with nature, regaining the feeling of belonging. , focus on the places and people who need it most and adopting a long-term reflection on the entire life cycle.

It also inspired the key principles that will structure the ways of working on its implementation: a multi-level, participatory and intersectoral approach which is also reflected in the decision to create an NEB Lab to support the delivery phase.

The figures show that there is growing interest from experts in the initiative. Nonetheless, can the NEB put more emphasis on its principle of “social inclusion” and potentially attract more attention from wider civil society?

Beyond the necessary involvement of public authorities, industries and businesses in the New European Bauhaus initiative, the involvement of civil society is and will remain essential for the project. The initiative aims to have an impact on the soil, in living spaces and in the industrial ecosystem. He also wants to question perspectives and mentalities. This is only possible if citizens and civil society actors are involved.

The NEB laboratory that will be set up will play a role in the community’s commitment to testing and experimenting with new solutions and political actions that will have a concrete impact on the ground. Among the actions planned, the Commission will also aim to support small-scale initiatives initiated by individuals and communities at local level.

The Prizes and the New European Bauhaus Festival that we will be piloting next year will be other means of raising awareness and arousing interest in the movement.

Ultimately, it will be up to each individual local transformation project to reach out to all citizens, including the most vulnerable groups, to ensure meaningful co-design and widely shared ownership.

What was your main takeaway from the new European Bauhaus Price?

The NEB Awards are a clear illustration of how the value triangle of the new European Bauhaus can be translated into a variety of contexts. We are building on a fertile ground of inspiring achievements and new ideas and innovative concepts!

An important takeaway from this first edition of the awards is how the creativity and connection of people and different disciplines can create new products and meanings that benefit both the community and the planet. By making these ideas and projects visible, they inspire others, for example, to rediscover natural materials, local knowledge, craftsmanship and creativity in their own community and to bring together those with innovative ideas related to sustainability, to social inclusion and aesthetics.

The delivery phase is planned as the NEB’s next step. Can you give us an overview of the main requirements to be included in calls to pilots?

The Commission has put in place a comprehensive set of calls for proposals, exploiting the complementarity between the different EU programs. It will also invite Member States to reflect their commitment to support and integrate the new European Bauhaus in the implementation of the 2021-2027 cohesion policy and to mobilize the relevant parts of their recovery and resilience plans (for example on renovation or infrastructure) on the new European Bauhaus. transformative projects.

Among the call for EU programs, 25 million euros have been set aside for an initial selection of “headlight demonstrators” – the so-called “pilots”. These projects will have to demonstrate an exemplary implementation of the fundamental values ​​of the new European Bauhaus (sustainability, inclusion, aesthetics) and allow significant transformation processes in their long-term contexts. They will have a strong participatory and multidisciplinary dimension and will respond to clearly identified issues.

Other calls will focus on more specific dimensions such as, for example, a call for demonstrators of social, affordable and sustainable housing districts.

Since the start of 2021, has anything changed in the way the Commission initially planned to roll out the initiative? Have you encountered any unexpected obstacles or positive detours?

From the start, the new European Bauhaus was innovatively designed. The co-design phase started in January with an open invitation to engage with three core values ​​without a proposal or consultation questionnaire. It worked and the direct participation of citizens and very small organizations across Europe was impressive.

This has proven to be an effective way to connect with care issues and people’s concerns. Receiving more than 2000 nominations – from all Member States – for the first edition of the New European Bauhaus Prizes was also certainly a very good surprise, exceeded our expectations.

The commitment and dynamism of the High Level Round Table members and the partner community – now already 270 organizations – has also been very impressive. They created the conversation and we are confident that we can work very effectively with them to expand the community – including beyond Europe – and work on concrete results, notably through the NEB lab.

Since January it has been an overall difficult but very rewarding journey and we hope to find the same energy and enthusiasm in the delivery phase of the project.

The NEB was highlighted at the upcoming European Cultural Heritage Summit in Venice. Do you expect this to trigger a new approach for the initiative’s future development? Could the creation of urban spaces with heritage value become a new pillar of the NEB?

The cultural component is a central element of the new European Bauhaus. As evidenced by many voices during the co-design phase, the cultural, architectural and landscape heritage elements anchored in the spirit of a place are key factors that underpin the “sense of place” and the sense of place. ‘associated membership shared by members of a community.

Culture and cultural heritage can also strongly contribute to social cohesion around creative networks, new forms of innovation and business models, experiences that enhance the physical and mental well-being of individuals and communities, and reach those who are socially and economically excluded.

Rediscovering, reinterpreting and protecting heritage during local transformation processes, innovating to improve the sustainability and accessibility of heritage, are key dimensions for the new European Bauhaus. The challenge is to rely on the rich diversity of our heritage assets to create long-lasting sustainable solutions, adapted to new climatic, economic and demographic conditions.

How can the new European Bauhaus help accelerate cohesion between the different regions of the European Union?

By focusing on the places and people who need it most, the new European Bauhaus will certainly make its contribution to cohesion both within regions – for example by strengthening connections between rural and urban areas – and between the regions.

The inclusive, participatory and transdisciplinary approach promoted by the initiative can also trigger positive developments. For example, the conversations carried out during the co-design phase between different actors in coal-mining regions in transition have highlighted the fact that transition policies often neglect the dimension of community building, cultural and architectural heritage and purpose. This would benefit from refocusing on the needs and vision of the community for the transformation of its environment.

For the successful implementation of the initiative on the ground and to accelerate cohesion between regions, the cooperation of national as well as regional and local authorities will be crucial. From promoting participatory co-design processes to the ability to support the funding of local transformational projects, the new European Bauhaus will require strong cooperation from all levels of government. The mobilization of cohesion policy instruments will be complemented by the networking of relevant stakeholders for mutual learning and support.


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