Nine Ideas to Make Your City a Creative City

Modern cities are changing, transforming and adapting to the current needs of inhabitants in order to ensure greater accessibility and better quality services. The transformation of the city must be defined by creativity because this is the only way to hold the intelligent minds and be at the same time attractive for visitors, investors and inhabitants.

#1. Creative Hubs

A hub is a joint working space that gathers a community of independent professionals. Besides the fact that they share a space, the professionals can work together on projects and ideas. A hub is also a place to organize different interesting events. Thus, the hub becomes a key-place where the ideas appear and are implemented in the city. A successful example in Europe is the Creative Poligon Centre from Slovenia. The Poligon is designed both for full time and part time users and has 60 flexible desks, 7 offices, a conference room, photo services, a bar, a market, a book store and a space for events. Hubs are gaining popularity in Chisinau too, and the most recent one is iHUB, which was opened in the building of the Technical University of Moldova and which is very popular only a month after the opening.

#2. Special Urban Design, to which everyone can contribute

A city is special not just because it looks nice, but because nice things can be at the same time very useful. “A beautiful town is not the one where everyone builds whatever they want in front of their apartment building, but where everything is created with the help of specialized institutions, which have proper training and aesthetic taste” says the Moldovan designer Mihail Stamati who initiated various projects targeting the development of public spaces in Chisinau, among which benches from the park of the Technical University from Moldova, the benches from the Petru Rares square or the installation “the head-in-the-clouds Christmas tree” which hanged a while in front of the National Museum of Art. In this respect, we conclude that in order to have a special design in the city we live, everyone can contribute with ideas for projects, which in an possible collaboration with the authorities, can materialise into objects, spaces efficiently used by the people in the city.

#3. Festivals

Festivals are very popular events that, depending on their theme, can attract a very broad audience, and the most important is that festivals are attended by many tourists besides local inhabitants. Several examples from European countries:

# music festivals – UNTOLD (Romania), Sziget (Hungary)

# gastronomic festivals – “Bostaniada”, “MAI dulce” (Moldova)

# educational festivals – International Student Festival in Trondheim (Norway), International Student Week in Timisoara (Romania), International Student Week in Ilmenau (Germany), etc.

# marathons – although they are not festivals, the marathons organised in different cities are very popular and are attended by people from all around the world.

There are various examples and the basic idea is that a festival can have any theme depending on the audience the organizers want to attract, but this type of events definitely brings advantages for the host city:

# jobs;

# the participants are stimulated to generate ideas;

# economic contributions due to the inflow of tourists;

# the city gets a positive image at national and international levels.

#4. “Different” Cafés

A café is not only a place where people go to have a coffee. The competition forced the entrepreneurs in the area to stimulate their creativity and open original cafés that, besides the basic services, provide something more and offer to the visitor more reasons to choose a certain café instead of another. I will bring some examples of “different” cafés that make the image of cities creative.

Scartz” Café (Timisoara, Romania) It is a “different” café because:

# is located in a house;

# is decorated in an inventive way, with vintage ornaments, from the furniture to wallpapers and decorations;

# a museum representing a house from the communist period with objects collected from that period is organised in the basement of the café.

Lady Cat” Café (Cluj, Romania) Coffee? Tea? Or a cat? These are the questions of a visitor entering this café that is not a simple public place, but a shelter for cats too. People who come here can have a coffee and in the end adopt a cat.

Masoch Café (Lviv, Ukraine)

The café is popular in Lviv because people who go there may accept different provocations because the place targets all the sado-masochists. The hot wax on the skin and the cocktails served directly from a bottle are only some of the curiosities thanks to which the café attracts tourists and local residents.

Komunalka (Chisinau, Moldova)

The café is different because recreates the atmosphere of the soviet years and its menu includes specialities from that period. Besides this, the design is characteristic for the former USSR.

#5. Popularizing a symbol of the city

A creative city must be identified with a symbol, whether this is a famous statue or a type of dish, a local sport or a specific activity. Several European cities are known because they have a “city in a city”, for example. In Uzupis, Vilnius or Lichtenstein you can get a seal of that district in the passport. Mdina from Malta is a city like this, whose old town was built according to the model of a medieval walled city.

#6. Defining the old town of a city

Every city has an old town. In people's view there is even a stereotyped image of how this zone should look: pedestrian walkways, old buildings and street cafés. Besides this, an old town must be characterised by modern infrastructure and restored buildings. Such a project aimed to outline the old town, is currently implemented in Soroca, a town form the North of Moldova. These zones are important because they are visited in the first place by tourists.

#7. Popularizing the bicycles

This activity includes various elements: parking spaces, lanes, infrastructure, the culture and the education of participants in traffic. The popularization of this means of transport has a lot of advantages that increases the degree of creativity of a town:

# more bicycles means less cars, free roads and pedestrian walkways;

# the cycling can be used for tourist purposes during tours around the city;

# bicycles can be the theme of different events, festivals, fairs, etc.

# a city in which people use the bicycles is tourist-friendly because it gives the possibility to discover the city “face to face”;

# this can boost the development of different types of businesses in the area: bike rentals, bike sales, and bike repairs.

#8. “Get-together” spaces accessible for everyone

Besides hubs, which gather professionals from different areas, a creative city should have open spaces for get-togethers. People should be motivated to spend outside as much time as possible because in this way they can be informed about every good or bad thing that happens in their town. Here we can include the parks that do not necessarily have to maintain their classic form, but they can be reinvented depending on the specifics of a community.

#9. Using street art

The designer Mihail Stamati said during an event that art must be available to everyone, thus it should go out on the streets. We are not speaking just about graffiti and other types of murals, but also about urban exhibitions. For example, there is an exhibition of sculptures made of rusted iron on the outskirts of Chisinau. It risks to disappear because it is not explored. The exhibit represents a series of sculptures that aim to mock some situations typical of the Soviet system, and its artistic value is undeniable.

For more information about culture and on how you can show yourself in this field, attend the Culture & Creativity Course provided by Eastern Partnership Culture and Creativity Program. In this course, you will be able to find out what cultural and creative industries are, what makes cities creative, what differences exist between mass and high culture, what the role of culture is in the different spheres of life and how culture can contribute to conflict resolution.

Lessons included in the course:

#1. Defining culture

#2. The role of culture

#3. Culture, conflicts and dialogue

#4. Creative economy

#5. Cultural and creative industries

#6. Urban creativity

#7. Mass and high art

The course is free and in the end you can get a certificate of learning after taking a quiz.

The article was drawn up in cooperation with the EU-Eastern Partnership Culture and Creativity.

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