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T-Factor: Unleashing future-facing urban hubs through culture and creativity-led strategies of transformative time

Keywords: European dimension, innovation, sustainability

Project duration: 01.06.2020 - 31.05.2024

Red T. Next to it in fine blue lines. The word "Factor" in blue capital letters. The O as a red clock with blue hands. Below in blue capital letters "Participatory Futures Co-Creating Cities through meanwhile Spaces".
Flag of the EU with confirmation of project funding by the EU.

European Commission - Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME), Horizon 2020

T-Factor demonstrates how heritage, culture and creativity can drive urban transformation with meanwhile uses in urban regeneration to unleash vibrant urban hubs for inclusivity, social innovation, and entrepreneurship.

  • ANCI Toscana – Association of Tuscan Municipalities, Italy
  • LAMA Development and Cooperation Agency, Italy
  • PlusValue CLG, Italy
  • University of the Arts London, England
  • Politecnico di Milano , Italy
  • Asociacion Cultural Open Your Kolektiboa – Espacio Open, Spain
  • LAND Italia, Italy
  • Fundacion Tecnalia Research & Innovation, Spain  
  • Aalborg University, Denmark
  • Marta Arniani – Futurible, Italy
  • Friche La Belle de Mai, France
  • Stichting WAAG Society, Netherlands
  • Kauno Technologijos Universitetas, Lithuania
  • Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal
  • Fundacio per a la Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Spain
  • Entidad Publica Empresarial Local Bilbao Ekintza, Spain
  • Kauno Miesto Savivaldybes Administracija, Lithuania
  • Wirtschaftsförderung Dortmund, Germany
  • iPropeller NV/SA, Belgium
  • Municipality of Lodz, Poland
  • London Borough of Camden, England
  • Municipality of Kaunas, Lithuania
  • Universita degli Studi di Milano, Italy
  • Tongji University, China

T-Factor’s overarching goal is to turn a variety of historic urban areas across Europe into vibrant hubs for inclusive urban (re)generation, social innovation and enterprise, harnessing heritage, culture and creativity-led collaboration and co-creation to realise radically new, transformative approaches of waiting time.

The project targets a diversity of historic urban areas in Milan, London, Kaunas, Amsterdam, Bilbao and Lisbon, all characterized by abandonment and decay in the past decades, and now under early stages of regenerations that will transform them into hubs of urban (re)generation. T-Factor will create a unique ecosystem of capacity building and knowledge exchange that will gather these initiatives together and support their public-private partnerships (PPPs) to turn the waiting time into a transformative time of radically new, collective city-making. The project will engage advance cases - Barcelona, Dortmund, Florence, Lodz, London, Marseille, New York and Shanghai - where historic urban areas have been transformed into successful hubs of heritage and culture-led entrepreneurship and social integration, to leverage their knowledge and experiences into the pilot regenerations.

T-Factor delivers an innovative city-making method that combines culture and creativity-led engagement, meanwhile uses and ‘prototyping’ urban development to achieve three specific, integrated objectives:

  1. To support voice, agency and inclusion of diverse actors and publics in the co-creation and coproduction of the urban areas under regeneration.
  2. To enable the formation of heritage, culture and creativity-led innovation ecosystems in the targeted areas, exploring novel thematic crossovers (e.g. arts, science and tech to foster collaborative health food and making catalysing circular models of production and consumption, etc.) able to contribute to enterprise and job creation, social, economic and cultural inclusion, and to sustainable urban environments.
  3. To foster adaptive and resilient approaches to the targeted masterplans and PPPs, transforming them into flexible and open structures able to accommodate new spaces, activities and meanings emerging from the bottom, better respond to citizens’ needs, and support urban developers in taking informed decisions.

T-Factor challenges the waiting time in urban regeneration - i.e. the time in-between the adoption of the masterplan and its actual realization - to demonstrate how culture, creative collaboration and wide engagement can unleash vibrant urban hubs of inclusive urban (re)generation, social innovation and enterprise. For some time now, Europe has witnessed the rise of new regeneration approaches where culture and creativity are entrenched with public engagement in ‘meanwhile uses’, unlocking collective inquiry and visioning of urban spaces, co-production of meanings and worthwhile functions. 

T-Factor targets early stage regenerations in a diversity of historic urban areas in London, Bilbao, Amsterdam, Kaunas, Milan and Lisbon, and provides a unique  ecosystem of capacity-building for radically new city-making approaches. Leveraging local coalitions of actors, we will use the masterplans of the targeted regenerations as the starting point to steer collective inquiry into their meanings and narratives, co-create visions of future spaces, and put them on stage via meanwhile uses and experiences. Throughout the process, culture and creativity will support voice and engagement, and help enrich and steer the masterplans towards heritage and culture-relevant innovation and enterprise, and social and cultural integration. Via trans-disciplinary action research, we will keep track of change, and build on the insights to add iteratively new layers of collective reflection and action. This learning by making will continuously inform masterplans and Public-Private-People alliances, consolidating, adjusting and providing new directions of urban development rooted in shared goals of sustainable city-making.

T-Factor will work as an international community of practice, delivering an innovative city-mentoring model which will create multiple collaborations between the pilot cities, advance cultural and creative hubs, universities, enterprises and social organizations partnering the project, so as to shape an international movement of capacity-building and knowledge co-creation for the transformative time in urban regeneration leveraging heritage, culture and  creativity.

T-Factor implements a city-making method that leverages locally rooted but internationally connected coalitions of actors in each pilot city. It uses the masterplans of the targeted regenerations as the starting point to steer collective inquiry into meanings and narratives, co-create visions of future spaces, and put them on stage via ‘meanwhile’ (i.e. temporary) activities and uses. Throughout the city-making process, culture and creativity-led approaches will not only support voice, engagement and agency; they will help enrich the masterplans, driving the exploration of novel crossovers between heritage, culture, arts, design, science, tech and more across a range of uses and urban experiences that can be sustained as enterprises, and that can unlock the strengths of localities in addressing shared missions of innovation relevant to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Via trans-disciplinary action research, we will keep track of change, and build on the insights iteratively adding new layers of collective reflection and action. Importantly, we will not only evaluate the impact of the project in terms of creation of socially desirable, ecologically bearable and economically viable regenerations boosting cross-sectoral collaboration, heritage and culture-relevant innovation and entrepreneurship, as well as social and cultural integration.

The project architecture of T-Factor is based on two core bodies: 1) a Transformation Agency that steers and oversees the city-making method, and 2) a distributed infrastructure of Transformation Labs (T-Labs) that provides thematic expertise over the specific innovation missions and crossovers pursued in each pilot node. The Agency and the Labs will develop multiple collaborations between the advance cultural and creative hubs, universities, enterprises and social organizations partnering the project, articulating variable geometries of knowledge and expertise put at the service of the pilot cities. Throughout the project, we will work as an international community of practice for culture and creativity-led transformative waiting times, engaging external regeneration initiatives, practitioners and stakeholders. Together with the city-making method, the Agency and the T-Labs constitute the unique aspect of this proposal, shaping an innovative model of city-mentoring for transformative urban regeneration. Importantly, the Agency and the Labs will be the core object of our exploitation and sustainability strategy: they will be further explored to give life to an international think tank able to provide consultancy in the long term, as the living heritage of T-Factor.

Project leadership:


Symbolic image of a person © TU Dortmund

Alejandra Castro-Giron

Location & approach

Exit 13 (Kreuz Dortmund Nord-Ost), direction Derne/Schwerte (B236), 1st exit direction Dortmund-Eving, next traffic lights turn right (Kemminghauser Str.), after 2.7km turn left (Evinger Str./B 54), after 1.1km traffic lights turn left (Deutsche Straße), after 500m on the left is the Evinger Platz.

From the Bundesstraße 1 (extension A40 or A44) to the intersection B1/B236 direction Lünen, 3rd exit direction Dortmund-Eving.

Exit Dortmund Hafen, turn left until the intersection Münsterstraße (B54), direction Eving, after about three kilometers turn into Deutsche Straße.

You can download an enlarged general map here

From Dortmund Airport, it takes just about 20 minutes to get to Dortmund Central Station by AirportExpress and from there to the university by subway (U-Bahn) 41. The stop is "Zeche Minister Stein". A wider range of international flight connections is offered by Düsseldorf Airport, about 60 kilometers away, which can be reached directly by S-Bahn from the university station. From there, you can get directly to Dortmund Central Station.

From Dortmund Central Station, take the U 41 light rail (direction Brambauer / Brechten). The stop is "Zeche Minister Stein". The Minister Stein Center is located on the right in the direction of travel of the streetcar.

You can find an overview map here.