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25th Sep 2022

New Bauhaus contest kicks off to inspire green projects

  • Cohesion commissioner Elisa Ferreira (l) and EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen are leading the flagship project (Photo: European Commission)

The EU Commission kicked off, on Thursday (22 April), its flagship project for a sustainable green transformation in housing, architecture, transportation, urban, and rural spaces as part of its effort to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.

"With the New European Bauhaus, we want to make the European Green Deal tangible and 'palpable'. We want to add a cultural dimension to the economic and technological transformation," EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said at a conference dedicated to the issue.

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The new initiative, first unveiled in von der Leyen's State of the Union speech last year will unfold in three phases - design, delivery and dissemination - that will last approximately until the end of 2023, or even longer.

"This could be a new culture for Europe," "an experiment," "a change of attitude," EU commissioner Elisa Ferreira, who is leading this initiative, told EUobserver.

On Friday, the commission will open a competition, with €30,000 prizes for those who spot "existing examples" that represent "the integration of the key values of the initiative".

"We are asking people if they can find good examples that already exist that can illustrate this concept, that can be recognisable and that can be an inspiration for others," Ferreira explained.

"We need to make it more easily understood all across Europe," she added.

In this competition, there will be ten categories, with a diverse focus, including plans for rural areas, historic buildings or educational projects.

Ferreira said she hopes this initiative "makes a difference" when implementing EU cohesion funds and recovery plans, inspiring future ways of living in a sustainable manner.

"There is a huge opportunity when we relaunch the economy to do it differently," she said.

Brussels is counting on media, fundations, universities, ministries and municipalities, among others, to infrom local communities and engage with citizens because "this initiative cannot be an elite project just for the few", she added.

This contest is part of the first phase of the initiative which will be running until the end of the summer.

'Concrete actions against climate change'

In the autumn, the commission will launch five pilot projects with funding of €25m, and it will be possible to combine this money with EU structural funds.

During this second phase, the commission will also support communities that want to develop projects linked to the Bauhaus with technical assistance from urbanists, designers, architects, or academics.

"This is what the New European Bauhaus is all about. It is about hope. It is about inspiration. It is about new perspectives. And it's about concrete actions against climate change," von der Leyen said.

The commission chief said the aim was "reconciling our way of life with nature". One of the ways to achieve it is to focus on materials that need less CO2 in their production.

"All of the technologies are here, what we really need is to incentives and accelerate its implementation at scale," Bjarke Ingels, architect, and founder of Bjarke Ingels Group said at the conference.

Buildings are responsible for 40 percent of our energy consumption, von der Leyen said, adding that if the EU manages to change this, there is a "chance to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees".

Part of the money available for member states under the recovery fund can be used to refurbish buildings and save energy.

The EU wants to renovate some 35 million buildings over the next ten years.

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