In addition to supporting projects, the Foundation also sees itself as an important source of stimuli and inspiration, promoting the exchange of knowledge and experience between the towns and cities.
With its annual conferences focusing on topical urban issues and the annual Foundation Award with a different theme each year and presented in recognition of innovative ideas and concepts of particular cultural and artistic value, it plays a key role in facilitating the exchange and transfer of know-how between political decision-makers in the municipalities and raises the profile of best practice models.
The Foundation reports in its twice-yearly journal and in its literature series on a wide range of interesting topics in our cities.
Lines of action, Guiding Themes, and Strategies
In the following, the opinions expressed in the articles of association of the nonprofit "Lebendige Stadt" Foundation are discussed in more detail. They define the agreed framework for action for the boards of the Foundation – the Board of Trustees, the Executive Committee and the Foundation Board, set forth in the articles of association. – and they may provide orientation and information on the work of the Foundation to applicants and the public.
Lines of action of the"Lebendige Stadt" Foundation
The name of the "Lebendige Stadt" Foundation comprises very complex situations and interdependencies. At first glance the terms "vitality" and "life" on the one hand and "city" on the other hand conceal all manifestations of an individual and social life in a historically created spatial environment created by men. The Foundation has committed itself to the cities in Europe; this does not limit the complexity of "Lebendige Stadt". For a long time, citizens from other countries and cultural areas live and shape life in the European cites.
The individual cities, however, have not lost their identity and cultural history. Regionalization processes and the forming of metropolises in terms of urbanization and political development shift historical borders between city and rural areas and between European countries. Because of the noticeable process of the economical, climate, demographic and value change, the general conditions for life and quality of life and the creation and change of urban environments for work, life, communication, culture and commerce are not fixed. They have never been. Therefore the Foundation's lines of action, its cause and focus are not static. At the end of the day, "Lebendige Stadt" comprises qualities, which need to be confirmed in individual cases or expressed in democratic processes. Cities and their places are vibrant because the quality of can be experienced there; and not just one but many qualities of life can be experienced in them. In this spirit, the activities of the nonprofit "Lebendige Stadt" Foundation focus on the preservation and the improvement of the quality of life in European cities. Therefore, all active, responsible persons from various fields of activity in administrations, politics and business which work for the good of many in their countries, in small or big communities are desired partners.
Focus on public spaces: In view of the complexity of "Stadt" (city) with the modifier "lebendig" (vibrant) the lines of action of the Foundation needs to be limited. Its activities focus on the material side of the cities, i.e. shaping the things and spaces in the broadest sense. The Foundation focuses on public spaces without allowing the interdependencies of people and things and spaces to be ignored. On the contrary: Every project that solves problems of living together or improving it by creative, intelligent shaping and reshaping, changing or adding to the things and spaces and therefore may have a positive impact on current or future qualities of life may become a funded project of the Foundation. The definition of public spaces and their desired shape is not static, but is the result of a democratic discussion of values and freedom of speech. For the "Lebendige Stadt" Foundation, places where their public definition in an open dialog is prevented or tried to prevent, lose their designation as a "public space". Therefore, there is a wide range of different funded and awarded projects which were supported by the decision-making boards of the Foundation. These projects comprise the design of bigger spaces for an urban public, for example the redevelopment of the "Jungfernstieg" in Hamburg, the courtyard of the Nikolaikirche in Leipzig or the restoration of the Central-Theater in Esslingen. The award for the best playground, the Georg-Freundorfer-Platz in Munich or the "Monument der Fragen" (monument of questions) is to be mentioned here.
Guiding Themes: Light, Green, Built Space
After an analysis of its past activities, the Foundation now focuses on funding areas and funding activities on measures and activities in urban public spaces which can be classified into one or more of the following guiding themes of the Foundation: "Light", "Green", and "Built Space". In these important fields of action of the "Lebendige Stadt" Foundation, solutions will become part of the work of the Foundation which may become best practice examples at a later stage and facilitate the active social exchange.
The selection criteria are on the one hand, the sustainable effect when solving problems which are caused by todays changes such as the climate change, demographic changes or the economic change, and on the other hand the social and cultural improvements for people of a distinctive urban public.
Last not least, innovation and cost-effectiveness are other criteria for the boards of the Foundation. With the guiding theme “Green” the “Park der fünf Hügel” (Park of the five Hills) in Essen, the “Grünmasterplan” (green master plan) in Heilbronn, and a new suburban forest, the “Bördewald” in Cologne was funded.
Illumination projects such as in the Speicherstadt (warehouse district) of Hamburg, the Rhine banks of Cologne, or the blast furnaces in Neuenkirchen show the commitment of the Foundation in the guiding theme “Light”. The design projects “Jungfernstieg” in Hamburg, Nikolaikirchhof in Leipzig, and a book on modern urban spaces in the historic city of Lyon focus on the developed urban spaces.
Strategy: Initiate, fund and communicate
The Guiding themes and the objectives of the Foundation on different fields of activity are to be pursued in different ways and with different means.
Based on the guiding themes, initiating, funding and communicating is realized with the best-possible way in realization projects, the exchange of know-how, symposia, competition, print publications and information on the internet.
When realizing ideas and concepts, the Foundation also accesses know-how, experience and support of its members. The founding of associations (“Lebendiger Jungfernstieg”, “Licht-Kunst-Speicherstadt”) and a funding with an annual communal Foundation Award was initiated.
Experience, findings and innovations are communicated by the Foundation on big symposia, conferences, or in books or brochures of the Foundation.
The discussion and the mutual critical exchange of ideas of many people – on location and eye to eye – are regarded as necessary; last not least, the “Lebendige Stadt” Foundation is committed to provide the opportunity and the exciting atmosphere to do just that.