From What’s up Budapest? to Rákóczisquaring 1.0

Short summary about our one and a half years activities in Shared Cities: Creative Momentum project.

From visioning to planning. 
What is the meaning of "Shared" for us?

Shared space - Mindspace Pop-up space 

Within SCCM project Mindspace undertook the opening and operation of a pop-up space on urban life. During the first nine months, this was located on the Mikszáth Square in the district VIII, in the smaller Lumen Café. Here we have installed a large VIII. district map highlighting our selected project area, which enabled to give various lectures and workshops to the public. In 2016, with various invited lecturers we discussed  community planning, gentrification and the work of civil organizations in the district.

Mikszáth square locates in the inner VIII. dictrict, the so-called Palace Quarter. Over the past 10 years, the area has gone through a serious gentrification process, many cafes, bars opened, the square and the connecting Krúdy Street became car-free zone. One of the inherent of the process was that the 3. Mikszáth Square building, in which the larger Lumen café was operating was bought by real estate developers, so the café was forced to move back to the smaller place that function as a gallery 10 years ago. So the Mindspace pop-up space also had to find a new place. Fortunately, we were able to move in a nearby business place and move on the job we got started.

Shared ideas - What's up Budapest

We were interested in the future of cities, the trend of individual and community involvement and in what the main challenges are that in general the population, and in smaller scale the inhabitants of Budapest has to face with. The weekly discussions were in Mindspace’s first Urban Cultural Pop-up Space at Mikszáth Square, Budapest the beginning of 2017.

Shared tasks - Better Budapest platforms -

Better Budapest is a jointly edited document and an online platform. The end result of this is an urban development concept and action plan (currently focusing on district VIII), to which the 6 pillars of smart city concept gives the theoretical framework. Mindspace launched the Smart City Budapest initiative in 2014, in which the smart city concept, bottom-up projects and organizations, as well as various related events were presented.

This work was further inspired by the ongoing Plan B project in Bratislava - developing model for  urban planning concept, which aims to prepare a comprehensive plan for Bratislava, involving more than 60 experts. Other inspiration was from Iceland, Better Reykjavik project.

Shared research and lectures - internship at Mindspace

In the spring, two students (Frank Meijer, Daan Sanders) from the University of Breda joined Mindspace and began jointly a liveability analysis on the inner VIII. district. The main direction of the liveability research was given by Jan Gehl's "How to study public life" and focused on mental mapping. The project area extended beyond the initial Palace Quarter to the Hall Quarter, touching its later well-emphasised main focal point, the Rákóczi Square and the Rákóczi Square Market Hall.

Working with the city - cooperation and inspiration with KÉK

All of this work was greatly inspired by the ’Working with the city’ subproject (SCCM) organized by KÉK in spring in which Mindspace was a collaborator. We worked together with 3 participating institutions of the Budapest 100 program right on the following week after the Budapest 100 weekend. ’Working with the City’ aims to involve institutions that can help to improve their living environment directly in some ways.

Shared practices - gamification

The BINA (Belgrade International Architecture Week), which was held in May, was the first step in co-operation with the Parka Cuvari in Belgrade and the ZKU in Berlin, in which Mindspace introduced 'gamification' as a toolbox and actively participated in the ZKU urban development role-play. These tools present and model the behaviors of different interest groups in urban development processes in a playful way.

‘Mind the Space’ - Rákóczisquareing

Starting in the summer, we organized an event by which our work in the SCCM project on 'Working with the city' - collaboration with institutions concept was introduced to the public in a comprehensible manner. The event’s location was inspired by the work of Stara Trznica, became the Rákóczi Square Market Hall. In the once prosperous market hall, we spent nearly 2 months mapping the problems encountered on a daily basis jointly with the market and business operators, then searched practical solutions to these challenges. With the support of the Visegrad Fund we organized a 3-day workshop series as well as professional conference and a hall event. The workshops took place in vacant stores, and the evening session was held with the involvement of musicians living in the neighborhood. On the preparation we worked together with more than 2 collaborating partners and organizations.

Shared research - data visualisation - internship again

In the autumn, another 3 Dutch interns (Max Petit, René Wezenberg, Lauren Van der Meer) and a Climate KIC pioneer (Natasa Kurucki) arrived for 3 months, who individually perform different researches that are related to the development of the Better Budapest concept. Numerous data have been collected and analyzed in the fields of gentrification - tourism, nightlife regulation and use of public space. The presentation of the data processed will be done in cooperation with Medialab Katowice (Apetite for radical change) until next spring.

Shared responsibility - Rákóczi "cartel" and alliance

The greatest lesson of Rákoczisquareing is that as a local stakeholder however it is not simple, it is easier to achieve real changes through concrete projects and events. During the winter, we will be developing and starting a small-scale urban development intervention, which aims to provide location in vacant buildings around Rákóczi Square to community-based creative small businesses and cultural spaces.

Shared future - events in 2018

Starting this winter with 4 Better Budapest workshops, we will prepare our major programs for 2018.  Our focus will be on refill the Rákoczisquareing program with exciting content and events, realizing 'Working with the city', like a longer process that is collaboration with institutions and stakeholders on joint programs. During the whole year we organize workshops and smaller happenings in the area of Rákóczi square and its surroundings, as well as the inner Palace Quarter (like Horánszky street festival) and we are trying to open the businesses and cultural spaces.

Text: Ádám Kobrizsa
Photos: Mindspace
Published: 13/11/2017