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Client: Area Renewal of Østerbro, Odense
Category: Buildings and urban spaces
Year: 2013-2016

Østre Plads

- conversion of parking space to a cultural hub for the community

The Challenge

How do you transform a disused schoolyard, which is used as a car-park, into a social and cultural asset for the local community, where the citizens can meet, and shape activities themselves?

This was the question, which GivRum was given in 2013, when Østerbro’s area-renewal division (under Odense Municipality) wanted to create the necessary foundation for user-driven activities in and around a disused schoolyard. The work was organised around:

  • Developing and anchoring the square as a cultural gathering place for the neighbourhood.
  • Building up and safeguarding local knowledge on how ideas and activities are implemented in practice.
  • Development of local ownership and affiliation, as well as dissemination of a general awareness of the square in the rest of Odense.

The Odense district of Østerbro has huge variations, both functionally and socially. The social problems make up a substantial part of the district’s challenges, and overall the district does not contain many well-functioning recreational areas or urban spaces.

Therefore, GivRum’s efforts dealt with initiating a foundation for a sustainable social community that could embrace the area’s diversity and utilize the potential of the many green areas and urban spaces. The schoolyard became the point of departure for this transformation, which was part of the further work on developing the urban space of Odense to an attractive area with a strong collective identity.

The solution

The social mobility had to increase to ensure a long-term social, cultural and economic sustainability for the activities at the square. As a result, GivRum initiated a process of both mapping and activating the locals’ interests concerning the transformation of the square.

Inclusion and co-creation formed the framework for this work, which would both ensure a strong local anchorage and ensure continuing activities in the square. GivRum established a collaboration with a group of local citizens and facilitated a process that resulted in:

  • A physical transformation, which included establishing a theatre-stage, a rhythmical playground, a green area and a huge wall painting. All these things substantiate and highlight the square’s new identity.
  • A pool of 75,000 DKK being provided in order to secure the future activities and to make it easier for the citizens to arrange local events. It is possible to apply for funding up to 10.000 DKK for projects in and around the Østerbro district in Odense.
  • The establishment of biannual and recurrent events: The Summer Market and The Christmas Market. These events help to strengthen local cohesion and they provide a space for the local citizens to meet each other and establish relationships.

Thinking transformation through activities has been a sustaining element in the development of the disused schoolyard. It has ensured social sustainability and has contributed to a local rooting of the square’s new identity. GivRum has also assisted the local working group in establishing itself as an association, which will run the square in the future, and work to strengthen the cohesiveness and make Østerbro an even more attractive place to live. This will help strengthen local ownership and integrate the square’s new identity in the local consciousness.

We believe that the citizens are any city’s greatest resource. That is why first and foremost it is important to engage a group of dedicated enthusiasts, who can carry out the development that is initiated by both private and public actors.

Sustainable Organization
GivRum gathered a group of enthusiasts in an established association, who continuously develop and plan activities at Østre Square. In collaboration with the association, solutions are developed, which help to ensure ownership and local anchorage.

Cultural Infrastructure
With the establishment of an outdoor theatre-stage, a readily accessible pool of funds for cultural events, traditions with recurring events and a naming of the square, it paved the way for local initiatives.

Identity Formation
The citizens of Østerbro in Odense have for many years perceived Østre Square as a space with possibilities. But now with an abundance of activities, new visual elements and a narrative about a cultural community, the square has gotten a central position in the local community.

Info

GivRum ensured a strengthening of the local community at Østerbro in Odense by initiating cultural activities at Østre Square.

There have been more than 15 events at Østre Square, where the annual recurring events, Østerbro’s Summer Market and Østerbro’s Christmas event, have been particularly characteristic of the square’s new functions.

An annual pool of 75,000 DKK has been made available, from which it is possible to apply for up to 10,000 DKK for cultural activities in Østerbro.

Together with the local citizens and with help from local institutions an outdoor theatre-stage was built. For ongoing updates on the work at Østre Plads, see the Facebook-site.

Read our evaluationrepport here.

Concept

We believe that the citizens are any city’s greatest resource. That is why first and foremost it is important to engage a group of dedicated enthusiasts, who can carry out the development that is initiated by both private and public actors.

Sustainable Organization
GivRum gathered a group of enthusiasts in an established association, who continuously develop and plan activities at Østre Square. In collaboration with the association, solutions are developed, which help to ensure ownership and local anchorage.

Cultural Infrastructure
With the establishment of an outdoor theatre-stage, a readily accessible pool of funds for cultural events, traditions with recurring events and a naming of the square, it paved the way for local initiatives.

Identity Formation
The citizens of Østerbro in Odense have for many years perceived Østre Square as a space with possibilities. But now with an abundance of activities, new visual elements and a narrative about a cultural community, the square has gotten a central position in the local community.

Info

GivRum ensured a strengthening of the local community at Østerbro in Odense by initiating cultural activities at Østre Square.

There have been more than 15 events at Østre Square, where the annual recurring events, Østerbro’s Summer Market and Østerbro’s Christmas event, have been particularly characteristic of the square’s new functions.

An annual pool of 75,000 DKK has been made available, from which it is possible to apply for up to 10,000 DKK for cultural activities in Østerbro.

Together with the local citizens and with help from local institutions an outdoor theatre-stage was built. For ongoing updates on the work at Østre Plads, see the Facebook-site.

Read our evaluationrepport here.

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