'Re-Act: Tools for Urban Re-Activation' is a publication containing research into the re-activation of the public space, offering interviews with experts from different disciplines and a collection of various case studies throughout Europe.



The new European economic environment is essential to consider when coming up with the tools, processes or projects to address urban re-activation in contemporary Europe. The crisis has affected virtually all countries in the EU, and it is the starting point for understanding the reasons that led architects, professionals and citizens to redefine their role and position in society.

Urban re-activation is becoming an increasingly relevant and complex topic in Europe, as it brings together a growing community of influential actors who, in recent years, have established a number of successful interventions in the field of re-use and re-appropriation. In our book, we will not only investigate these informal practices as they pertain to architects; but also to various groups, collectives, designers, entrepreneurs, programmers, geographers, and so on— concerned citizens who have already begun to transform their ideas into actions through introducing new models and innovative ideas.


This ‘manual’ presents a series of interviews from a selection of experts, researchers, local administrators and architects who are all actively involved in the re-activation of urban spaces throughout Europe. Their realisation of innovative new projects and initiatives play a central role in our discussions over urban re-activation, and represents some of the most interesting examples that define our toolbox for re-use. These valuable contributions, consisting of various keywords, models and examples representing a broad range of contexts and experiences, are intended to help the reader to identify and understand some of the most powerful and innovative tools for urban re-activation. This handbook is divided into 3 chapters: “Talks” a selection of interviews with experts, “Toolbox” – a selection of key terms and values, and “Re-Actions” – a compilation of effective European case studies.

Cover of ‘Re-Act: Tools for Urban Reactivation’ Handbook. You can purchase this publication here.


This chapter contains a series of interviews with international experts on the topic of urban re-activation. Experts who, through their own experiences, have been actively involved in many of these processes: designers, activists, politicians, researchers, and normal citizens, whose valuable contributions will aid in identifying and understanding some of the tolls for urban re-activation. Some interviewees include: Jaap Draaisma – Director of Urban Resort; JoseFran Carcía – Expert in Urban Landscape Management; Davide Dal Maso Partner at Avanzi, Sostenibilità per Azioni; Ada Lucia De Cesaris Administrative Lawyer; Paula Cristina Marques – Councillor for Housing and Local Development, Lisbon; Jan Jongert – Co-founder of Superuse Studios, and many more. 


In the second chapter, we have extrapolated a series of important concepts from which to structure reasoning. As the cities in which we live will have to face huge issues (migrations, shrinking, employment rates, and environmental crises affecting food and water supply), we are aware that our toolbox cannot be something definitive: we made the conscious choice to leave it open, so that it can be completed more organically.

This toolbox becomes a dynamic list to include some of the common elements this research has analysed, thus allowing us to better understand some of the trends that, in the next few years, will hopefully be more holistically understood. Some emerging concepts that were depicted include: ‘human value’, ‘exchanges’, ‘social innovation’, ‘policies’, ‘anticipation’, ‘participation’, and ‘time’.


This chapter documents several initiatives and projects that share a common trait: their multidisciplinary nature, which is a key element in understanding these trends at a European scale. The protagonists of these ‘stories’ are represented by groups of professionals and informed citizens who, having understood the importance of collaboration, are combining their skills with others in order to obtain better results. Here are 5 examples from the collection:

Analogical Smart Cities, PKMN© Architects

Left: workshop on the transformation of ‘urban cracks’, Amsterdam, photograph by Jordi HuismanGrindbakken© Right: Former docklands of Ghent, photograph by Fred de Corte©

Caseando, Vic©, image by Esau Acosta© 7. Pod Pyramidou – RTVS Bratislava, photograph by Vladamir Labat©

 Left: Pod Pyramidou – RTVS Bratislava, photograph by Vladamir Labat©. Right: Nodmakers Space, Chillout Area. Photograph by FlorinGHenade©

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