Public Space Academy: a transformative learning experience for a new approach to urban complexity built around public space

Source of Action
World Urban Forum
2022 - 2024
Last Updated
27 March 2023


The Public Space Academy is the first, free, interdisciplinary educational program entirely dedicated to public space, aimed at establishing a new approach to urban complexity built around public space, for a more comprehensive, human-oriented understanding of our cities and societies. It is designed to investigate multiple levels of understandings and interpretations of public space, to change the mind-set of new generations of global citizens – The Public Space Academy is a transformative educational programme aimed at including public space as a priority in urban agendas of local governments, while providing expertise in the discussion with public and private institutions and local stakeholders, especially in regard of laws and policies for design, implementation, and management. The Public Space Academy is developed as a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) with free access. Online contents are complemented with several face-to-face activities, such as talks, public dialogues, meetings, workshops, and exhibitions, in different cities worldwide, engaging Universities, cultural institutions and NGOs affiliated to City Space Architecture’s global network. The first course will be available on a customized OpenEdX platform, managed by City Space Architecture, in November 2022. It is expected to attract significant interest since it will convey attention on public space on a more rounded perspective, at the political, social and economic level, fostering solidarity and cooperation. The Public Space Academy is pursuing three main objectives: - introduce public space complexity and the need for multidisciplinary analytical skills to analysis, design and management: public space is not merely a design activity related to landscape urbanism or infrastructure facilities, but it is more and more involved in a technical and political process dealing with land use, environment, infrastructure networks, social issues and policy making, in response also to global trends such as massive urbanization, privatization and gentrification; - expand understanding on how public space is a crucial asset for sustainable development, both as a top-down/expert-led activity and as a bottom-up/citizen-led practice; - defining a comprehensive urban strategy for local implementation, that is built around humans and their life in the public domain, putting public space as a priority in the urban agenda: well-designed and well-managed public spaces can provide opportunities for formal and informal economies by attracting investments, entrepreneurs, and services, enhancing the value of land and property, redefining urban environments with human vibrancy and livelihood, encouraging walking, cycling and play, and improving physical and mental health. The Public Space Academy provides theoretical contents and also methodologies and tools for the design of practical solutions to integrate public space strategies in local, regional and national policies. The beneficiaries are young and experienced scholars and researchers, practitioners, and representatives from local and regional governments. The learning outcomes will be assessed using a monitoring and pedagogical evaluation strategy throughout the process, engaging a highly qualified committee of academic scholars and well-established professionals.

Outcomes and Impacts

Increased and equal access to basic services, sustainable mobility and public space (most indicators at outcome level measure institutional outcome), Effective settlements growth and regeneration, Improved spatial connectivity and productivity of cities and regions, Effective adaptation of communities and infrastructure to climate change, Enhanced social integration and inclusive communities, Enhanced resilience of the built environment and infrastructure


Europe and Central Asia

Lead Entity

City Space Architecture

Key Dates

Start year: 1/31/2022

Sustainable Development Goals

Goal 3 - Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

Goal 4 - Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

Goal 5 - Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

Goal 10 - Reduce inequality within and among countries

Goal 11 - Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

Goal 13 - Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

Goal 16 - Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

Goal 17 - Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development