Conviviality on Living Streets

Conviviality on Living Streets

People dining in the streets

To triggernew narratives, the Lab of Thought develops innovations and radical interventions in the field. This helps us to actively look for ways to become cognitively lenient in our thinking about mobility. One interesting group of interventions are temporary street take-overs. State-run and large-scale versions are for instance the Ciclovia’s, when cyclists take over the streets once a month or even once a week.

What in many ways is even more exciting are citizen-led and local street take-overs.Started in Ghent, Belgium, the LEEFSTRAAT concept gives residents the opportunity to experiment with their street over the course of a few weeks. By removing car traffic and parked cars, the space can be creatively designed and used for other purposes. As such it kickstarts a conversation “about living together, mobility, isolation or poverty into new ways of doing, thinking and organizing.Citizens can visualize the future by creating their dream street.”

The VAKANTIESTRAAT of Holiday Street, residents of a streetuse it to organise a range of activities during school holidays. This startedin Rotterdam when during the COVID lockdown people could not go anywhere andthey reconnected with their own neighbourhood. Experiences show that peoplereconnect also with their neighbours in the process. 

One of the coolest versions is the ‘Republic of Super Neighbours’ in the city of Paris. It started five years ago with a 215 meterlong table, 648 chairs and self-cooked food. By now the weekly brunches are a tradition attended by over 2.000 neighbours. But it also became part of a bigger movement for more conviviality: cultural outings, memory exchanges, mutual aid schemes and voluntary skill-sharing. “City living doesn’t have to be unpleasant and anonymous. We want to create the atmosphere of a village in an urban space” said one of the local organizers. Participants recognized that conviviality is not only a good feeling, but a powerful asset and valuable resource to fix the shortcomings of the modern city. “It felt like the street belonged to me, to all of us’, said a café owner.




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Ready to reTHINK

There is an urgent need to rethink the way we look at our streets and cities. They are currently designed for one purpose (cars and efficiency) and no longer a just place that enables social interaction, play and inclusion. Because it's hard for policymakers, designers and people to see alternative futures. The Lab of Thought is the platform that explores and direct experiments to open our collective imagination to work towards more desirable streets and cities.