Acupuncture as a tool for Urban Development in the Case of Palotanegyed

Dominika Tihányi

In the cooperation of Rév8 Zrt. and Újirany Group the method of cultural masterplanning is put into practice in the case of the rehabilitation of Palotanegyed (Palace-quarter), situated in the 8th district of Budapest. The cultural masterplan is drawn up in strong connection to the social-economical and environmental aims of the rehabilitation plans. It aims to set ground for social and environmental sustainability, through integrating cultural and public art interventions that enhance social activity. The masterplan provides a framework for the actions that involve local dwellers, schools, elderly people, local shopkeepers, café owners, galleries and institutions in the process of creative place-making, which gives a chance to share knowledge that can be incorporated in the regeneration project to promote locality and the uniqueness of the place. 


The goal is to create – through a chain of public interventions acupuncturing the site for duration of several years – a living neighbourhood with citizens taking active part in creating and sustaining their community and the environment. The actions of the masterplan help in the enhancement of social interaction, to help to model possible usages of space, and to find ways to reflect on the local heritage in finding the image of the city part, upon the local knowledge that is added by local people involved in the projects. This in the end will be the key in realizing cultural-social and physical changes for the future. Public research shows that people are open to community activities, if the adequate platforms are created. In order to activate people in the process playful communicational platforms are created (eg. the award winning Interactive Mapping Project) that draw attention to local values and potentials. Such platforms, that enhance communication between local people, to share local knowledge, in order to create a stabile network of citizens taking active part in changing their surroundings, both in mental and in physical sense. These art projects and events –animating the masterplan– focus on both the privately owned public spaces, like the inner courts of houses (micro projects), or the public spaces owned by the city: streets, squares (macro projects). Micro projects aim to transform the inner courts of houses into community places. The people living in the buildings are involved in the act from the planning phase up to the execution part of the renewing, creating the sense of belonging. The macro projects consist of a chain of public art projects and events in strong connection with each other. Their aim is to focus attention on the local heritage of the place, creating surfaces through which communication between people can be generated. Hard elements consist of public art projects with temporary or permanent physical outcomes, soft elements consist of events with temporary physical outcomes. 

In the category of hard elements, the first project realized is one that uses simple street art tools. A pattern is painted on the asphalt surfaces of the street create pictures. The patters mark out the Palotanegyed rehabilitation site so people can actually learn in real time and space where the changes will arise. The next realized project draws attention to the local cultural context of the area. Quotations of a well-known Hungarian writer, Gyula Krúdy, were painted on the surface of the asphalt randomly in contextual connection with Pest. Local shopkeepers were involved in a project that focuses also on finding and exposing their own personal stories and myths. As soft elements, local art groups and the Civils for Palotanegyed create actions such as the local flee market, or the flower-planting days, local festivals, tour guides etc. to draw attention on recycling and the local heritage and the surrounding environment. It can be said that the chain of projects aim to turn the streets of Palotanegyed into an ever evolving, interactive gallery, enhancing local economy and culture, guaranteeing sustainable development.

Referring to Félix Guattari, we believe that the above mentioned microscopic attempts meet their aim at transforming society step-by-step by focusing attention on the creation of local neighbourhood communities. The projects try to create and model the possible meanings of open spaces that can be defined as community places, the places of inclusivity, leading to an open society. In our belief, by creating a sense of ownership of public spaces in individuals, and by creating communal experiences through collaboration, social sustainability can be achieved that also sets soil for environmental sustainability also.

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