A throwback to our miniBLOCK Party: Steinhuber Miniblock Opening Event (July 28, 2023)

 

By Ana Rivas

 

After two days of dedicated construction work together with students of Remaking the Streets Summer School, TUM Plant A Seed and volunteers, a new meeting space was created for the community of Maxvorstadt in Munich.
We closed the streets for traffic for one day and gathered at the heart of Steinhuber Miniblock, at the intersection of both streets that compose our street intervention in Steinhuberplatz. While the last details of the intervention were being finalised, our colleagues arrived with a “bike stage”, students brought a 60m “snake” for people to sit on, and curious people started stopping to hear a little more about what was about to happen.

We were honoured to welcome some of the finest minds in urban planning, who shared their experiences and insights that are already reshaping the urban landscapes across Europe:
First, Ana Rivas and Benjamin Buettner welcomed everyone and inaugurated this intervention together with Maxvorstadt’s district council representatives Svenjia Jarchow-Pongratz and Sigrid Eck.

Then directly from Paris, Catherine Arod-Gall presented the concept and implementation of the “-15 Minutes City”, challenging the car-centric understanding of urban planning. They underscored the importance of crafting livable neighbourhoods by creating accessibility by proximity. Silvia Casorran Martos and Xavier Matilla took us on a captivating journey through Barcelona’s “Superblock” concept, emphasizing the transformation of city blocks by prioritizing pedestrians and community spaces over traffic. Their compelling evidence illuminated the creation of more vibrant and socially connected neighbourhoods, affirming the power of collective action.

And what better way to bring those approaches to Munich than with the initiators of the Steinhuber Miniblock? Benjamin Buettner presented the Flowers of Proximity as a tool to include different populations in the conception of 15-Minute Cities. Afterwards, Ana Rivas introduced the ideas and concept behind Steinhuber Miniblock leaving the stage to Elisa Meschmaier and Benjamin Domnick from WOW Urbane Utopien!, who shared some insights about the construction of the parklets and mobility hubs. This first session was closed with a guided tour through the experiment with music by DJ Danca.

After the break, all the way from Amsterdam, Marco Te Brommelstroet, from the University of Amsterdam, provided a pivotal insight, urging us to cultivate the ability to shift perspectives. Cities are not merely about physical structures; they are a manifestation of the people who inhabit them. Thus, understanding human behaviour and communication stands as the bedrock of urban evolution.

Then, Lior Steinberg from Humankind and George Liu from the University of Amsterdam whisked us away on a global tour of the most remarkable street experiments, underscoring how numerous cities are advancing towards a more sustainable future.

And Katherine van Hoose posed a thought-provoking question: “Can street experiments genuinely transform urban mobility?” Our experiment provided an affirmative answer, with visible behavioural shifts occurring within hours. The transformation of parking spaces into gathering areas and the narrowing of streets encouraged pedestrians and drivers to utilize the space differently.

Our last stop on this European journey was with Patxi, J. Lamiquiz and Beatriz Martinez, who highlighted the concept of Linear Greening. They emphasized the symbiotic relationship between nature and urban spaces, urging us to integrate green corridors into the urban fabric.

Finally, Henriette Kurth delivered a compelling closing address, sharing insights on power, privileges, and parking spaces. Her talk showcased the potential of bottom-up approaches to create safe spaces for everyone.

We are happy to pilot for the first time the Miniblock concept in Munich inspired by the Barcelona Superblocks, with the hope and vision of seeing this intervention as an initial step at a small-scale intervention to transform the city.

Also, the positive feedback from attendees, the questioning and the conversations has ignited our passion even further. We are excited to embark on this journey of transformation, daring to question norms, and envisioning the city of the future.

Thank you to all the brilliant minds and attendees who joined our event and activated Steinhuber Miniplatz. Special thanks to the community for embracing this exciting exploration. Together, let’s shape cities that are not just functional, but truly enriching and inspiring places to live and bloom.

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