Bikes in a city.

Thoughts on the creative use of public spaces

Future Cities Insight #19 - Thoughts on the creative use of public spaces

Some of us here at AFRY were invited to Smart Kreativ Stad (Smart Creative City in Swedish) for a series of talks regarding the area of moving images and film.

Smart Kreativ Stad is a Swedish project, funded by the EU, which focuses on moving images, digital media, innovation and urban development in the Stockholm region. The project is run by Film Capital Stockholm in collaboration with members and partners within a range of sectors.

When society and our cities are facing great challenges: a growing population, maintaining the welfare system, climate change and not least loneliness – we know that these cannot be faced one at a time. It takes new perspectives and cross-disciplinary solutions.

To have the opportunity to reflect together with people with other skills and professions is of course inspiring, but also important. Our conversations centred not only around film in the public space, but also around who gets to be seen in the public space and how the layout of our exterior environment is governed as well as created. How does one create conditions for creative events? The conversations touched upon everything from cultural politics, communication and economy to practical details such as accessible power sockets.

Places are activated through the used of film/moving images, giving these new identities and creating new memories. Our perception of the place is changed, in that it, temporarily, becomes something else. We are then spectators, but at the same time also co-creators and participants in the public space – when we are there and are given the opportunity to experience new perspectives.

Places that are somewhat forgotten, unused and unprogrammed, may live up and become something completely different as a result of an activity suddenly taking place. For example, a film festival under a bridge. The conversation goes on – what can be shown in a public space?

Smart Kreativ Stad
Photo: Smart Kreativ Stad

Of course, all questions don’t have simple answers. However, we are certain that film, as well as other design disciplines in the public space, such as light and sound, may change the atmosphere of a place and bring both insights and new meetings for those who visit the place.

Thank you Smart Kreativ Stad for opening up for how the city and moving images may interact, and for getting to take part in your exciting talks. You show new ways in which film may be included in urban development processes, new screening techniques may be developed and how cooperation with actors in both architecture and construction may look like. We would love to continue these discussions with you.

These were some of the last physical discussions we had before Covid-19 and its consequences appeared. Regardless of how digital we may become during this period, it is clear that meetings are important to create new perspectives and we long to experience the city and its opportunities in a physical way again.

Helena Paulsson, Head of Urban Development, AFRY
Anna Waernborg, Senior Lighting Designer, Light Bureau, a part of AFRY
Martin Hallberg, Creative Sound Designer, Efterklang, a part of AFRY


Helena Paulsson - VP and Head of Business Area Architecture and Design

Helena Paulsson

VP and Head of Business Area Architecture and Design

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