“Building a network to disseminate lifelong learning for sustainability: the ASPIS experience”

By Fouli Papageorgiou, Dip. Arch., Ph.D Urban and Regional Studies


One of the main tasks of the ASPIS project is to launch and sustain a campaign to raise awareness of sustainability issues that relate to open public spaces, among the general public Two issues are pertinent in this campaign: to make sustainability a more tangible, everyday concept offering hands on experience to people; and to promote a dialogue between the professionals and the public, making public participation in design and planning of open spaces more meaningful. A strategy has been designed to respond to these issues, using lifelong learning and e-learning as vehicles. The central points of this strategy include mobilising key stakeholders, organising events in public spaces to establish contact with the public, training teachers and other facilitators to work with school groups or other volunteer groups; mainstreaming the learning resources in the formal education system, in local authorities’ public participation systems  and among environmental NGOs; and recruiting through the above a large number of organisations and individuals to form a network that will sustain the campaign in the long term.


Second Life in Education

Panagiotis Antoniou

Lab of Medical Informatics, Medical School, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Abstract: One of the axes of the ASPIS project is the utilization of serious gaming for the education of professionals and members of the public for focusing the efforts for the creation and management of sustainable public places. In that aspect of the project it is useful to explore the potential of online serious gaming and namely the most popular multiuser virtual environment, Second Life. In this work a brief outline of the necessity for serious gaming is presented followed by an exploration of the advantages serious gaming and specifically Second Life can provide to teachers and learners. Following that, a brief introduction is made to the modalities available for content creation and consumption. Subsequently, a brief critical assessment is made of the most common pitfalls for an educator when making the leap to Second Life. In closing some of the current challenges in the Second Life metaverse are presented and some avenues of research are outlined.


Jekaterina Balicka, MSc

University of Life Sciences

On the way to public space sustainability in the Baltic context: from constant to temporary

Every region has its specifics in the way to use the open public space. These specific characteristics are dependent on regions geographical position, climate, historical background, people’s mentality and habits. All these, often co-dependent factors define the very unique behaviour in public spaces.

Ways of using the public space in Baltic States are framed by many factors, but the crucial role here play the socialists era history (Raagmaa, 2009; Berend 2009; Stanilov 2006) and the specific climate conditions. Besides the ways of public space use these factors may limit also the ways of designing public space financially and functionally.

The soviet era has destroyed many of the historical structures – spatially and socially, and created new ones. In this effect, soviet period still has a great impact on the Baltic States in the time after the regaining of independence: development of the new capitalism had to be built on the post-soviet realities. Therefore, the maintenance of the existing and creating of the new public spaces was not in the list of priorities in on the way to re-establishing the three independent states; rather economical and political changes seemed to be more important. Everybody’s interest was redirected from the Public to the Private. Also in later times, as the awareness about importance of the public space has risen in society, development of such spaces faced the problem of financial limitations, because traditionally public space and green infrastructure development was still not seen as a priority among the public authorities and private developers.

Also seasonal change and climatic conditions have a big impact on public space life. In the winter squares and park lawns are used to store great amount of snow, children playgrounds are almost not used from October-November till March-April. On the other hand, the seasonal change brings also many other, short-time activities, like skiing in the larger parks, skating, snowboarding, snowball fights etc.

Talking about the further public space development and current needs in Baltic countries, taking in account the context, one might conclude, that public space in the Baltics needs a more flexible approach. The design possibilities of public spaces often limited by the narrow budget, and the use of public spaces is limited by the seasonal change – it means that design solutions should be effective, but low costs, as well as they should be suited for the sequence of different seasonal space uses, which are, in fact repeating temporary activities.

The presentation will introduce temporary use as an urban planning instrument, well known in other European urban contexts, but also one of the sustainable approaches, fitting into specific public space environment of the Baltic cities and towns.


The secrets for designing successful public spaces

Dr. Aikaterini Gkoltsiou

Landscape  Architect (Ph.D., M.L.A.)- Agricultural Engineer (Dip.)


The main purposes of this presentation are to analyse the key elements in transforming public spaces into vibrant community places, to highlight public participation’s role in landscape planning process and to refer to some good examples of public parks and squares worldwide.

Guidelines for designing public places with the aid of professionals and the involvement of community groups will be explored, from design to management and maintenance. Then, a methodology of landscape planning process will be presented as well as the involvement of people during all its stages – from conception to implementation-.

Examples of public places –parks, squares, and so on- from various countries worldwide will be presented and analysed in order to explore more the idea of what makes a public space successful and most welcome by the public.

Aikaterini Gkoltsiou has a Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Aegean in Greece, a Master in Landscape Architecture from the University of Edinburgh, U.K., and a diploma in Agriculture from the Agricultural University of Athens, Greece. Currently, she is working as a freelance landscape architect and researcher.  She was also the co-author in books for High Schools and University, she wrote articles in many journals, participating in technical reports for road schemes and she was giving lectures about landscape design and research.


Experiences of ASPIS learning tools after the piloting in Hungary


Dr. Boglárka Barsi

research fellow (HAS Institute of Regional Studies)

The piloting was aiming at testing the learning tools developed, namely the memory game, the star rating tool and the sustainability game. The aim of the piloting was testing the friendliness and suitability of the developed ICT-based innovative learning tools for the different target groups, e.g. planners, school/university students and other members of the public.

Suggestions and comments were collected which will help to create a really useful tool for understanding sustainability of open public spaces. Participants of the piloting learned much on public participations, conflicts and different interests of different users of public spaces. They also emphasised how they realised the importance of sustainability during planning a well functioning open public space.

The problems were mainly technical ones, but participants also proposed changes in the content helping them to understand better and learn more on open public spaces. They are expecting much more feedback. The star rating tool has to be improved to be much more enjoyable and useful; most of the participants of the pilot process could not understand what their task is during this game.







Marianna Tsemperlidou, Natural Scientist, Environmental Education Advisor, M. in Education, Director of 6th Gymnasium of Petroupolis.


The paper describes the piloting of ASPIS Sustainability Game by fifteen year old students of secondary education, in a  Gymnasium of Petroupolis, at the west area ofAthensand its qualitative and quantitative evaluation by them. Most of the students were ignorant of the sustainability concept but familiar with video games. A theoretical introduction by the teacher about Sustainability was considered to be absolutely necessary before the piloting. The students spotted easily the technical weaknesses of the game but they found it rather difficult to solve the issues presented in it. The evaluation of the game by the students through a simple questionnaire, illustrates that most of the educational goals concerning sustainability were achieved.


Prof. Friedrich Kuhlmann and Monika Suskevics MSc

Eesti Maaülikool

North-Eastern perceptions on sustainability of public spaces: case studies from the Baltic States

In the ASPIS project certain sustainability criteria were agreed upon, generated from interview and questionnaire outcomes of European countries. ‘Sustainability’ and ‘Public spaces’ are contested concepts: throughout Europe they are understood differently because of differences in culture, heritage or climate. Still, there is need to qualify criteria which can be understood commonly. Does the focused view on the specific contexts contrast with the sustainability criteria?

This presentation aims to compare different perceptions on sustainability and public space with a cultural, economical and ecological context in which they are made. The context appears in form of existing public open spaces as well as in interviews and focus-group meetings in Estonia.

Contemporary Baltic public spaces have functions, which differ from typical use of public spaces in parts of Europe and in many ways their main functions can be reduced to public representation and outdoor recreation. Four case studies of public spaces in Estonia and Latvia will be presented to describe this specific character of Baltic open spaces under the condition of three main pillars of sustainable development (social – ecological – economic), which defined the frame for the criteria. Thus, the context can be also questioned along these pillars (social/cultural context – geographical/ecological context – economical context).

The sustainability of public spaces is associated to certain qualities by different stakeholders in the Baltic context. The following five comparisons should contrast these perceived qualities (first sentence(s)) with the specific reality (the last sentence in bold) of the designed environment:

A sustainable public space should be attractive for people, to see and meet others, showing themselves, exercising, etc. A good public space therefore is a place where people like to meet each other. But in the designed environment a public space often serves as a recreation area more than as a meeting place in the sense of urban life.


A sustainable public space can change its physical parameters but people would come anyway. But in the designed environment the domestic nature plays a dominant role for the design of a public space.


A sustainable public space should be multifunctional, because it serves functions for many different users and it accommodates many different activities, where different people do not disturb each other. But in the designed environment there is never the risk of over-use and contradiction of uses in a public space.


A sustainable public space not only allows for active use by different users, furthermore there should be life going on. But in the designed environment the active use of public spaces is tied to events and seasons.

A public space is sustainable, when it does not need continuous investments. The administrators of public space should be able to sustain and not only to create. But municipalities have to deal with the economical crisis, by reducing costs for maintenance of the places.


Should the specific context be reflected much more in the sustainability criteria or does it contrast with the need to understand each other on an agreed international basis?



Inés Novella Abril[i]

Gender approach and planning are not always easy to bridge. It is not easy to explain why both issues are indeed very connected. It is difficult to explain to planners that it is necessary to introduce gender mainstreaming into the long and complex planning process. And it isn’t easier to show to gender experts the way how gender sensitive planning helps to achieve the real aim of all this: equality to everybody. However, gender approach is considered by European Commission and many other political and intellectual voices as a basic requirement for the sustainability of our cities, in particular, social sustainability.

This paper is part of the teaching material of one of the subjects in a Master for Equal Opportunity Officers offered online by CEU-Cardenal Herrera University. The role of Equal Opportunity Officers (EOO) arose after political initiatives such the Treaty of Amsterdam (1997) or the Spanish Law of Equality (2007), these professionals are in charge of ensuring that any public policy incorporates gender mainstreaming. City planning is indeed a public policy and EOO must assess its quality in terms of equality and get involved in its design and its process.

Since one of the key issues within the term “gender” is to claim the social value of what has been called as carework and the everyday lifecity planning policies has a lot to do and it can be taken as a tool to facilitate all the tasks related to domestic and family sustainability. This benefits directly to women, who are traditionally responsible for caring issues, but also to all those citizens who depend of it in varying degrees: children, elders, disabled, etc. From the gender point of view the most important urban elements for the quality of the everyday life are public transports and so called infrastructures for the everyday life or proximity facilities. Those public services and resources offered as part of the city to satisfy the needs of the carework. Among these facilities the easiest to teach and explain are neighbourhood-scale parks.

Five quality criteria are proposed: function, size, accessibility, materiality and management. They are intended to help planners to elaborate gender inclusive projects, but also as an assessment tool for professionals related to Equality. Each criterion is based in gender theoretical reasoning, but belongs to architectural language practise; thus, they are easy to understand and handle by both professional profiles in their work. These five criteria are proposed to put in order some theoretical concepts and to facilitate its use as a practical working tool. During the Conference, apart from explaining each one of the criteria and its theoretical background, all his information will be illustrated with some case studies and examples.


-BOOTH, C., GILROY, R., HORELLI, L. (1998): The EuroFEM Toolkit. EuroFEM Gender and human settlements  International Conference, Hämeenlinna, Finland, 1998

-JACOBS, J. (1961): Muerte y vida de las grandes ciudades Ed. Península. Barcelona, 1972

-SÁNCHEZ de Madariaga, I. (2004): Infraestructuras para la vida cotidiana y la calidad de vida, en Revista Ciudades, nº8,  Universidad de Valladolid, 2004

[i] Máster in architecture and Master in Equal Opportunities


Experience from the application fo the ASPIS tools in Belgium


Tomas Ooms, St Lucas School of Architecture, Belgium

The presentation is an illustration and reflection on the use of the ASPIS tools in a classroom setting and in an architectural office.

It will show how the topic was ‘localised’ and how the Serious Games was turned in two a two part lesson on sustainability of public open spaces.

In addition to that the presentation contains some feedback from a Belgian NGO on the tools.


Pyblik, The Culture of the Public Space



Roland Piffet:




pyblik[ (www.pyblik.be) is an initiative of the Brussels Capital Region in collaboration with 2 schools of architecture, Sint-Lucas Architectuur and Department of Architecture La CambreHorta. Its aim is to centralize the knowhow and expertise in public spaces.

As part of the course, master classes are organized for professionals, designers and project managers, who will reflect together on a specific case. During the 3day master classes specific cases inBrusselswill be studied, guided by national and international experts and in relation to the inhabitants.


VdB: A comprehensive and participative urban regeneration bottom‑up project carried out in Virgen de Begoña district of Madrid.




Pillar Diaz

Virgen de Begoña is just an example of the over 200 open‑block estates detected in Madrid as priority intervention areas due to their current deterioration. Many of the vulnerabilities found in this district have also been noticed in the other open‑block estates of these “intermediate outskirts”: building inadequacy and obsolescence, low‑quality urbanization and lack of public space identity, weakened demographic and socioeconomic structure, etc.

Facilitating citizen engagement


The project includes strategies of visibility, awareness and pedagogy, with the aim of facilitating citizen engagement and neighborhood involvement in the project. To this end, we set a methodology developed through three channels: (D) Dissemination, (C) Citizenship and (P) Participative Project.

(D) Dissemination channel plans both transparency and local and global visibility of proposals. Dissemination expands the local collective committed to the project and generates a global exchange of views.

(C) Citizenship channel works on awareness of participation, public space or urban ecology, as well as community identity, by means of pedagogy and information.

(P) Participative Project channel deals with proposing urban designs and management models on a local and global basis, in three steps: Proposal and participation diagnostic, pilot proposal development (trial) and final comprehensive proposal.

Auditing the sustainability of open spaces


We have developed an urban information management tool capable of structuring quantitative indicators defining the environment in terms of ecology and transdisciplinarity, with citizen collaborative information. This information is crossed and rendered with values, percentages, diagrams, or maps, in order to ease its understanding.

This tool allows connecting quantitative information with qualitative information, and so finding common ground through environmental, social, economic and functional scopes.

Quantitative indicators


Indicators quantify the scope state on the basis of environmental, social, functional and economic parameters, for defining the “sustainability” of an urban environment.

Environmental: They take into account the scope’s environmental impact and ecosystem state.

Social: They take into account social balance and its adaptability to changes (resilience).

Functional: They factor in urban fabric efficiency, mobility and urban pattern infrastructures.

Economic: They take into account the diversity of production resources and the evolution potential.

Citizen information is recorded and classified for being connected with quantitative indicator values through the scopes of work. All the information generated via the various activities is classified according to its source, its nature, its scope and the themes it refers to.

This classification allows visualizing the most interesting themes, the agents who are generating the information, and its negative, positive or constructive nature.



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