Inspiring Projects

Region 4.0, Uckermark – Barnim – Uecker-Randow Region, Germany

The Film University Babelsberg KONRAD WOLF in Germany is part of a local innovation network region 4.0. The project region 4.0 is situated in a rural area 100 km from Berlin. As part of this project, the Film University Babelsberg KONRAD WOLF collaborates with local schools and teachers to develop participatory and visual communication projects. Children and teenagers from the local region present various local innovations in videos or podcasts. They are moderators, interviewers or reporters. The teenagers develop storylines in cooperation with experts from the Film University. Through such an experience, they are empowered to become local communicators of the innovations. The goal of region 4.0 is to support identity-creating innovation culture in the rural region.

Project Description (German): https://www.filmuniversitaet.d...

Mome Movement, Budapest, Hungary

At Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design the “MOME Movement” has announced a contest, which accepts applications from Hungarian non-profit organisations which require support in their visual communication. The journalist Levente describes in an article for the online magazine Hyper&Hyper: “They primarily seek to give a hand to organizations pursuing public interest activities, which, for budgetary or other reasons, don’t have a visual brand identity yet.​​ [...] the MOME Movement initiative shows how young talents can do charity work and provide real help to organizations that are working for a better world. At first, the movement was running as a student-founded grassroots initiative. By now—without losing its momentum—it grew into an academic course to design brand identities.”

Article by Gelly Márk Levente in Hyper&Hyper:

Design for Health and Wellbeing Lab, Auckland, New Zealand

The Design for Health and Wellbeing (DHW) Lab in Auckland, was originally a collaborative project between the AUT’s Faculty of Design and Creative Technologies between the AUT’s Faculty of Design and Creative Technologies and the Auckland District Health Board (Auckland DHB) inside of and the Auckland District Health Board (Auckland DHB) inside of the central-local hospital. The lab aspires to be a "design space in which designers, students, patients and hospital staff could work together to identify and address contemporary healthcare issues in innovative ways" and was created together with members of those groups. It can be described as a co-design (and co-designed) space (Reay et al. 2016).

A study by Reay et al. (2016):

Play Mobile Project, Hungary - Romania - France - Serbia

In the context of the transnational Play Mobile Project artists travel to more rural areas and create art in public spaces, for example, installations or performances, which are meant to attract the attention of the local community. Artists also invite locals to participate in collaborative art practices, for example, participatory theatre pieces, which are performed in different parts of the villages at the end of a project.

The project website describes sums up the idea behind Play Mobile Project: “The idea of the Play! MOBILE project is to encourage cultural participation in micro regions of Europe. We believe that community art practice; creation of modifiable site-specific installations and the development of a participatory game as a platform for interaction between artist-artefact and public, offers a sophisticated and inclusive way for capacity building and development of new audiences.

By turning public spaces of visited settlements into playgrounds of contemporary art, we are aiming to present an alternative way of cultural consumption, a methodology to present contemporary artworks without the necessity of having all the satisfactory infrastructure. Therefore, the international team of artists – together with local youngsters from visited towns – will create a site specific interdisciplinary and participatory game, which will be adopted to the different small settlements of partnering countries, thus bringing contemporary art closer to its audience.”

Project Website:

Cup4Creativity, Budapest, Hungary

Cup4Creativity invited design students from the Budapest University of Technology industrial design to plan and design the space for an art-tech centre, which will serve the purpose of inspiring creativity within local people in the future. The vision is that the art-tech-centre will become a space of art and encounters.

The website urban innovation action (UIA), an initiative of the European Union, sums up the idea behind CUP 4 CREATIVITY: “CUP 4 CREATIVITY integrates passive consumption with creative contribution, lowers access barriers and involves people exposed to digital isolation into community-sourced activities. By sparking dormant creativity, residents of Újbuda also become mentally fit and shielded against contemporary urban stress factors. At the same time, they become connected, encouraged and anchored contributors of the Újbuda community and embrace its social and cultural identity.”

Project Description:

Project Description (Hungarian):

Construction Camps - Architecture faculty, Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Budapest, Hungary

During their architecture studies in the Architecture School in Budapest, students are invited to participate in summer camps, which follow an exchange method, where small villages or rural local communities communicate a need and the Architecture School reacts to this need with an artistic intervention. An example is that a local community asked for a puppet theatre. During the semester a few students designed the puppet theatre with the help of a professor. During the summer a group of students went to the village to construct it. In return, the community provided accommodation, food and materials and additional help.

This is still a common practice, which can apply to a wide variety of local needs and multiple places. More examples of such projects are: include building homes for homeless people in Budapest, i-assistance with the construction of a children's home centre in Perbál, and building a garden for a high school in Sárospatak along with local children.

Project Description (Hungarian):

Raumlabor, Berlin, German

Raumlabor in Berlin is an architecture studio with a focus on projects, creating common spaces for local communities in cooperation with these communities (participatory approach). While in Raumlabor there are no IHAE involved, the work of Raumlabor can serve as an inspiring example for creative projects in cooperation with and within local communities. An example of Raumlabor’s work is the Cantiere Barca project in Italy, which is described on the Raumlabor homepage:

“The goal was to develop with the community a process of re-appropriation and exploitation of urban space. Starting from the old social centre, with its very questionable qualities, we developed and build different objects (benches, a stage, a soccer field , hiding-places) to turn this common space into a meeting point for the neighborhood. In the building process the youngsters will learned step by step how to handle woodworking tools. Through the process of realising a collective idea the participants experienced that it is possible to make changes in their living environment.”

Project Website:

Xenorama - Facade Dialogs, Cologne, Germany

FAÇADE DIALOGS is a participatory art project by the audio-visual art collective Xenorama, exhibited in a public space in Cologne in 2015. The projection mapping offered various perspectives out of and on the diverse district of Cologne Mülheim.

The project started with the installation of a mobile interview station at the central Wiener Platz, where pedestrians were invited to speak about the district. The content was edited in a journalistic and artistic manner before being projected onto two very big, opposing façades at the Wiener Platz, a central square in the district of Mülheim.

As the projection lit up the district of Mülheim, its people became both the objects and mediators. FAÇADE DIALOGS provided local people with the chance to share their personal voices and discuss relevant topics concerning the district’s developments. They had the possibility to directly articulate their views in the way that mattered the most: in the actual space, they were talking about.

Project Website:

MAACRAFT - Miskolc, Hungary

The enterprise website describes the idea behind MAACRAFT: “MAACRAFT is a design and social enterprise founded in 2012 as the social workshop of the Autistic Foundation of Miskolc. We offer high quality homewares and delicates products, concurrently familiarize autistic and mentally disabled people with the world of working and its joy. By gardening and learning artisan techniques autistic employees can improve their cognitive and manual skills and also gain knowledge about visual culture. The products are designed by the industrial designer, Daniel Szalkai and developed to manufactured products by conductors and professionals. With every puchased MAACRAFT product you support the workshop’s young disabled adults.”

Project Website:

Hello Lamp Post, Tokyo, Japan

PAN Studio is a creative studio, which develops experiences at the intersection of theatre, technology, games and public art.

Ben Parker, a co-founder of PAN Studio, describes the project Hello Lamp Post by PAN Studio in a blog post on City Monitor: “Hello Lamp Post is our playful, citywide installation inviting people to strike up conversations with familiar street furniture using the text message function of their mobile phones. Most street furniture anywhere in the world has a unique code for maintenance purposes. Hello Lamp Post repurposes these, allowing passers-by to identify an object and ‘wake it up’, prompting it to ask its caller a few questions. By giving specific personalities to specific objects, we are asking citizens to reflect on where they live and what they feel about the other inhabitants of the city.”

Blog Post by Ben Parker on City Monitor:

Project website:

Playful City, Ireland

Playful City is a non-profit organisation in Ireland, organizing playful events and creating small-scale installations with the aim to introduce more variety into local communities' lives. The projects themselves are not artistically oriented, but provide a good example of how creative solutions can influence the morale of a local population.

Project Website:

LATA 65, Lisbon, Portugal

Even though graffiti is the most prominent form of public art, it has a negative reputation, especially amongst older generations. The project LATA 65 brings together locals over 65 years old with the most respected urban artists and offers graffiti workshops to senior citizens. Their mission is to democratise contemporary art, bring colour to neglected neighbourhoods, and create a bridge between generations and districts from different milieus.

Article on Lata 65 by Lisa Goldapple (Editor) in Atlas of the Future:


Hello Wood is a Hungarian architecture studio designing and executing smaller and larger scale projects. As a socially responsible project, they often collaborate with locals in their design process, they are present at every stage of the project and they organize workshops for university students to share their philosophy.

a) bridge, Olaszliszka, Hungary

The initial situation was that the only bridge in the village of Olaszliszka was for cars. There was no path for pedestrians, which made local life uncomfortable and dangerous. During this workshop the students from the University of Pécs built a wooden bridge next to the old bridge, to make locals' lives easier.

Project Website (Hungarian):

b) playground, Olaszliszka, Hungary

Initially, the playground in Olaszliszka, Hungary was in an old and worn-out state. The Art & Design students of MOME University from Budapest designed and built a new wooden playground, taking into account the needs and wishes of local children.

Project Website (Hungarian)

Laundromat Project - New York City, USA

The Laundromat Project brings art into local laundry shops, to make the community more engaged with art. The project started in the 1990s in Brooklyn.

Journalist Emily Noko describes the project in an article for Next City as follows: “The Laundromat Project has actually never been a laundromat. The first public program, a fabric mural workshop, took place inside a Bed-Stuy senior center. Then the Create Change Artists-in-Residence program allowed artists to stage projects in laundromats across the city. “It ended up freeing us to actually think about the whole city,” Ilesanmi says. “Even since we pretty much haven’t looked back.” In 15 years the Laundromat Project has supported artists in all five boroughs through both fellowship and residency programs. Community-centered arts programming has happened inside libraries, community gardens, public plazas and in partnership with local cultural organizations.”

Article by Emily Noko for Next City:

Project Website: https://www.laundromatproject....

Girl’s Garage, Berkeley, US

As described on the school’s website, “Girls Garage is a nonprofit design and construction school for girls and gender-expansive youth ages 9-18. They provide free and low-cost programs in carpentry, welding, architecture, engineering and activist art to a diverse community of 300 students per year. Integrating technical skills, unconditional support, and community leadership, their programs equip youth with the personal power and literal power tools to build the world they want to see.”

Project Website:

EASA Apathy Residency - Estonia

The European Architecture Students Assembly (EASA) is a non-profit network of architecture students. The network organises summer schools for the students, which take place in different locations all over Europe. As described on the EASA website, the students live together as a self-maintained “utopian community”, with the purpose to experience alternative education. “EASA gives a chance to experience architecture in a way that universities are yet not providing. Bringing students to a certain context, defined by the location and theme of the assembly, where they have to raise architectural questions themselves and investigate them through the eyes of all European cultures simultaneously. Being their own educators, students then elaborate the answers and bring them to reality.”

In 2020 the summer school’s name was “Apathy Residency” and took place in Valga, Estonia. The goal of the summer school is described on the EASA website as follows: “Apathy residency is a local EASA event mainly targeted towards building a stronger architecture student community in the Baltic region. The residency welcomes everyone curious about space and holds several workshops, lectures and activities on the topics Valga has to offer.”

For more information

Network Website:

the 2020 summer school:

Instagram of the project:

Sonrie Ecuador, Ecuador

In Ecuador, the nationwide circus program “Sonrie Ecuador” was funded and organised by the government in 2011 with the aim of promoting social solidarity and inclusion. Programs are currently being offered to street-involved youth, as well as children from marginalised communities and adults with disabilities.

Researchers Spiegel et al. (2015) discuss in their article the concept of social circus programs, especially in regard to health equity focussing on the example of this project. The article shows possible social aspects of performance arts, provides an example of how governments may collaborate and also identifies the challenges of such projects.

Study by Spiegel et al. (2015):

Documentary on Arte about this project (German and French):

Intergenerational Theater Group - Western Canada

This community participatory research project from Canada brings together different generations to form a professionally led intergenerational theatre group, including both older members of the community and students.

Anderson et al. (2016 ) describe the intergenerational theatre group project in their research paper: “In response to publicity about the benefits of professionally led drama programs (Noice, Noice, Perrig-Chiello, & Perrig, 1999), the seniors’ association in a western Canadian city approached a university drama professor about initiating an older adult drama program. In 2001, the professionally led older adults’ drama performance group began. Six to 10 participants regularly performed Shakespeare- or fairy tale–inspired vignettes featuring well-known characters as older adults in settings such as a retirement residence. In 2006, university students joined the older adults. Older adults and university students participate in weekly “rehearsals” that begin with theatre games, singing, and improv to create a playful atmosphere. Then, participants work together to develop ensemble-created plays. They reminisce about objects brought to the group by staff and tell personal narratives. Vignettes from a number of stories are worked into a meaningful story line. The group hones the plays in rehearsals and 15 to 20 performances a year." The researchers conclude: “Participating in this intergenerational theatre group reduced ageism and improved intergenerational relationships. It increased older adults’ and university students’ well-being by building social networks, confidence, and self-esteem and developed a sense of social justice, empathy, and support for others.”

A study by Andersion et al. (2016):

Sharing Dance Older Adults - Toronto, Canada

The Canadian National Ballet School started an online video dance program for older adults. The aim is to provide a “safe and accessible dance program that engages older adults in meaningful dance activity. Programming is designed for individual dancers, as well as for organizations in a variety of settings, including community spaces, retirement homes, long-term care centres, and more”, as the project website outlines.

The interdisciplinary researchers Skinner et al. (2018) address questions around how such dementia-friendly activities can be provided, by examining the effectiveness of video-streaming arts-based programmes with regard to social inclusion. They refer to the Sharing Dance Older Adults project as a case study. The study includes the perspectives of people living with dementia as well as community partners in a range of settings to better understand the contextual factors influencing the factors, which lead to the success or failure of a dance programme for people living with dementia and carers.

Project Website:

Project Description and Ressources:

The study by Skinner et al. (2018): 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-026912

Spiral Garden - Toronto, Canada

This project focused on creating “an inclusive leisure space in Spiral Garden, an arts-mediated outdoor summer day program for children with and without disabilities” (Smart et al. 2018). It shows how service providers use arts-mediated methods. Spiral Garden is an integrated outdoor art, garden and play program “situated in the ‘backyard’ of a large pediatric rehabilitation hospital located in an urban setting” (ibid.). The activities, staff members and the garden space aim at creating an engaging, fun and inclusive experience for the children.

This article describes how service providers use a set of practical strategies to create an inclusive leisure space in Spiral Garden, an arts-mediated outdoor summer day program for children with and without disabilities.

A study by Smart et al. 2018:

Project Website:

Playback Theatre for Police–Community Relations - Frayser, Tennesee, USA

This theatre project was part of a community-based participatory research by Smigelsky et al. (2016). It was a collaboration of the Memphis Police Department with the theatre organisation Playback Memphis. The researchers describe that “Police–community relations have catapulted onto the national stage after several high-profile instances of alleged police brutality. Blame and hostility can be barriers to positive police–community relations. Playback is a form of audience-inspired, improvisational theater designed to promote connectivity and empathy through storytelling”. The art intervention brought together police officers with formerly incarcerated individuals and increased positive attitudes towards the other group in both directions.

Study by Smigelky et al. (2016):

Playback Memphis:

Aztec-Inspired Mural - DeKalb, Illinois, USA

Researcher and artist Staikidis from Northern Illinois University describes in her research paper a project, in which she and her students collaborated with teenagers and members of a local Latino community in order to create an Aztec-inspired mural. Inspired by the artistic practices of Mayan painters, which integrated mentorship-based, decentralised learning methods, they developed a collaborative model of work where skills and knowledge were mutually exchanged between all members (Staikidis et al. 2009).

A study by Staikidis et al. (2009):

The University of Brighton and The Hangleton & Knoll Project, UK

The Hangelton & Knoll Project is a community development charity in South East England. They are a well-established and resident-centred community organisation in the area working with various regional partners. One of those partners is the University of Brighton. The collaboration is mostly focused on research projects, such as an investigation of the accessibility of art.

This partnership is part of the Community University Partnership Programme (CUPP) of the University. Other project partners in this programme are for example a living lab on tackling loneliness or a collaboration with a local harbour on microplastic. In this programme, they also support students in community volunteering by giving them “recognition for volunteering through accredited modules” or working with PhD students “wanting to undertake co-produced research with community partners” (CUPP Website).

Community-University Partnership Programme Website:

A study by Johnson and Monney (2021): https://www.qualitative-resear...

Hangleton and Knoll Project:

STEAM Inspirations - US

The Institute for Arts Integration and STEAM in the US provides an inspirational resource on how to connect with communities through arts integration and how to bring STEAM outside of the classroom into community settings. It also touches on the different benefits and potentials of those approaches. Approaches practised in STEAM could fruitfully be implemented at IHAE and help to better cooperate with and integrate into local communities.