EME3_2012 Bottom up – City planning and urban development; Video participation in Barcelona.

From June 27th until July 1st the EME 3 conference was held in Barcelona. This year was the 7th time that EME 3 took place. Javier Planas and his team have put a lot of their passion and effort in organizing a very inspiring and interactive program.

EME 3 is a number of events and activities in and on public space. There were direct interventions in the public space like the building of a large meshworks on Placa Nova; exhibitions at several places in town such as the COAC building; installations; debates & talks; workshops and documentaries. The purpose of EME 3 is `to have participants discover and live other ways of architecture`.

EME 3 is open to everyone and there is no admission fee. Besides architects and city planners there is a wide range of disciplines present. This is just one of the elements that makes it an interesting event. Honoring this year´s theme – bottom up – there was a lot of space for interaction with local people, inhabitants of the city Barcelona.

The Placa Nova is a very central square, next to one of Barcelona´s main shopping streets and in front of one of Barcelona´s main tourist attractions, the … cathedral. The open character of EME 3 invites people to come in and to participate in the program. I have been in several conversations in the EME 3 dome where local people joined, on invitation or just because they passed by and were interested.

Roel Simons and I were invited to contribute to this year´s EME 3. Actually Roel was invited and he found it appropriate to give the work we have done in Cascadepark Almere a central element in his presentation. Together we prepared and facilitated a 1 hr presentation and a 3 hr workshop on ´Videoparticipation´, using Cascadepark as a significant case.

For the workshop we had chosen not to work with a group that would be too large. We had set our minds on working with a group of around 16-20 people. Our presentation was scheduled for the Friday evening and the workshop was to be held on Saturday morning.

We designed our presentation in such a matter that it would give those attending a brief experience of how we work. In 30 minutes we shared our individual backgrounds; how Roel and I came to collaborate; the economic and social context in Almere and the assignment that was given to us by the municipality for the project in Cascadepark. Naturally we shared the movie that tells the story of Cascadepark in 10 minutes. Thanks to an update from the “friends of Cascadepark” we were also able to share the latest developments in Cascadepark.


The other half of our presentation we used for a conversation with the people present. Instead of a question and answer ´session we found it more valuable to have others relate to our story from their experience as architect, urban planner-developer or inhabitant. This led to a very interesting conversation, where also differences between the Netherlands and Spain were addressed. Many people gave us feedback afterwards that they were very inspired. Later I was told that this is not very Spanish to do, so I guess we did a good job there.

Our workshop session was originally planned inside the COAC building, but we were able to move that to the dome and the outside area of the plaza. We were also very fortunate to have Sandra Ruiz, a bilingual business coach, in our team for translations during the workshop. That enabled us to have some insight in the lively conversations that were held in Spanish. Our objective was to share an experience with the participants on using video participation and to allow them to experience a group process that works with the “wisdom of crowds”.


With 19 participants we worked on two case studies, brought in by the participants. An architect, living in Barcelona, had a case on how to create more participation and collaboration his neighborhood.  A process had been started and it got stuck at a certain point. The other case was on another district in Barcelona with a lot of drug abuse. Key question here was how to engage the community for improvement of the district.

We used a combination of storytelling, world café, briefing and moviemaking to give the participants in 3 hrs an experience that was similar to the 6 months process in Almere. In the first conversation round we had the case holder share his story and we gave the others assignments for active listening and feedback. The second conversation round focused on the deeper codes with the question “What story wants to be told?” We also asked to formulate an action that could be taken as a next step in the projects. The third step for the groups was to make an inspiring 2 minute movie that will activate others to participate in the project.


After sharing the movies we used the last 15 minutes for feedback on the workshop. The case holders felt very much fed and empowered by the wisdom of the group and they both had new practical insights that will help them to take their next steps. The other participants were very enthusiastic about the process we guided them through and the joy and power it gave. Roel and I were impressed by the quality of conversation in the groups.

Hopefully we will be able to participate at the EME 3 conference in 2013. Roel and I would both be very inspired if we then could present a Spanish case. Who knows what the future brings.


Here you can find the films that were made by the groups. They had only 40 minutes

Film 1

Film 2

Film 3

About Alain B. Volz

Alain Volz M.Sc. (1969) - Social Economy Entrepreneur, founder and director of ATMA - has studied Business Administration and Organizational Psychology. He started his career with Royal Dutch Ahold and has worked with IPMMC and TC&O. For 10 years Alain has been working with Twynstra Gudde Consultants and Managers as senior consultant Human Talent & Change Management. He was responsible for Competency Based Human Talent Management. He is co-founder of the Center for Human Emergence in the Netherlands (CHE), a former member of the CHE alignment circle and founding director of CHE School of Synnervation (currently Synnervate). In 2011 he held the position of partner with the RnR Group in Maarn. Alain is Strategy & Alignment Officer at Dipaliya Women's Association in Tamale, Ghana. In the Netherlands he is board member of the committee for the position of women and minorities in the Dutch Democratic Party (D66 Thema Afdeling V/M Sociale Innovatie). As such he represented D66 in the PVO; a cross party National committee consisting of represents from 6 different political parties (CDA, CU, D66, Groen Links, PvdA, VVD). The office of ATMA is located at the ImpactHub Amsterdam & the ImpactHub Accra.
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