URBiNAT focuses on the regeneration and integration of deprived social housing urban developments through an innovative and inclusive catalogue of Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) ensuring sustainability and mobilising driving forces for social cohesion. Interventions will be focused on the public space to co-create with citizens new urban, social and nature-based relations within and between different neighbourhoods.
Taking the complete physical, mental and social well-being of the citizens as its main goal, URBiNAT will develop the co-creation of healthy corridor as an innovative and flexible NBS, which itself integrates a large number of micro NBS emerging from community-driven design processes, in order to boost environmental, economic and social sustainability and cohesion.
URBiNAT consists of a worldwide consortium of academic and business partners around 7 European cities that will act as living laboratories (WP2) to implement healthy corridor solutions in well identified social housing neighbourhoods. These laboratories will also assess the corridor's ecological, cultural, social and economic impacts. From west to east, the cities of Porto, Nantes and Sofia will act as frontrunners based on their demonstrated experience in the innovative use of public space with NBS. From south to north, the cities of Siena, Nova Gorica, Brussels and Høje-Taastrup will share and replicate URBiNAT concepts and methodologies, acting as 'followers' (Figure 1).
Each city will be supported by local partners, associations and research centres, as well as by 'horizontal' centres, universities and companies which link between cities. These actors will together create a living lab (WP2), deliver a multichannel strategy for active citizenship (WP3), implement a healthy corridor and an NBS catalogue (WP4), while monitoring impacts (WP5), disseminating knowledge (WP6) and marketing solutions (WP7) as results. Together, they will form an inclusive community of practice (CoP) in collaboration with non-European partners, including in China and Iran, as well as with NBS observers based in Brazil, Japan, Oman and a Chinese city, bringing experiences and an international dimension to the project.
HEALTHY CORRIDORS (HC), with a customized NBS catalogue, will be co-created and co-planned for the frontrunner and follower cities, testing an innovative and inclusive urban model to regenerate deprived districts, specifically within and linking social housing neighbourhoods. Participative-design will be the cornerstone approach in achieving new models of urban development, and design thinking process and methods will underpin the creation of Healthy Corridors with NBS.
In this sense, URBiNAT sets three major goals responding to three levels of action:
1) at the local level, to promote social cohesion through the activation of living lab and engagement of a Community of Practice [WP2 and 3];
2) at a transversal level, to achieve new models of urban regeneration through an innovative public space: healthy corridors concept and the NBS catalogue [WP4];
3) widespread, with the monitoring, dissemination and market replication of the knowledge produced and demonstrated [WP5, 6 and 7].
Finally, URBiNAT will develop business cases based on market potential, as well as policy recommendations regarding best-practice NBS, that provide information about the benefits and costs of NBS. This will include social, environmental and economic impacts, as well as the comparison of different NBS business propositions and alternative solutions. Through the development of solid business cases co-created with the engagement of local communities, URBiNAT will ensure long-term sustainability. Business cases will also include business products for the social and solidarity economy, free-of-charge solutions, and economic growth opportunities for new NBS.