7th Informed Cities Forum

Who profits from heritage?

Communities, capital and urban space


15–16 October 2019

Warsaw, Poland



Conference Facilitators


DAY 1 - Tuesday, 15 October


8:30-9:00 Registration & Coffee

9:00-9:30 Welcome & Introduction


9:30-10:00 Troubles with heritage. Lessons from Warsaw

Heritage sounds like a valuable possession, but in fact, say “heritage” and you may say “trouble”. Because, in the first place, how do we know what heritage is, and secondly, who decides that some architectural and urban achievements are more valuable than others? How does heritage value reflect the changing realities of the society and economy?

In the XX and early XXI century, Warsaw experienced several institutional approaches to its heritage – from highly political decisions to decisions by esteemed experts, reborn local government, grass-root activities of the changing society and market forces. What lessons can Warsaw and other cities draw from this turbulent period?

The opening keynote set the scene for further discussions, taking a critical look at the processes of urban transformation.


10:00-10:45 How is your city changing?

We are all experts in the processes of urban transformation. We shape the cities we live in, we watch them change, have our hopes and dreams and yes, sometimes nightmares too. This lively exchange session helped the participants to quickly get to know each other and dive into the main questions to be explored.


10:45-11:15 Coffee break


11:15-12:45 Why does heritage matter?

In this session participants had a chance to meet the people behind Cooperative Heritage Labs, the adaptive reuse laboratories established by the OpenHeritage partners in Rome (Italy), Prädikow (Germany), Sunderland (UK), Pomáz-Nagykovácsi-puszta (Hungary) and Warsaw (Poland) and hear about their experience, future plans and first lessons learned.

OpenHeritage aims at creating sustainable models of heritage asset management. The project puts the idea of inclusive governance of cultural heritage sites together with development of heritage communities at its center. This means empowering the community in the processes of adaptive reuse.




12.45-13.45 Lunch


13:45-17:00 Time to explore! Field workshops

Praga is known for its strong community ties, industrial heritage and vibrant arts scene. Located on the right bank of the Vistula river, Praga largely missed out on the rapid transformation the entire city underwent starting in the 1990s. Long flying under the radar, this neighbourhood is now one of the sites where the future of Warsaw is emerging.

Participants dived straight into local debates and conflicts, meeting activists, policy makers and experts involved in shaping this unique neighbourhood. Is there a different path that Praga can follow, learning from the mistakes of many European cities? Can this experience of transformation resonate with others, facing similar challenges in their neighbourhoods?
The workshops served to showcase different aspects of urban regeneration in Warsaw, with a focus on Praga, and brainstorm together about possible ways forward.


19:00-22:00 Praga after hours: evening event

After a long day of focused discussions it’s time to continue the exchange in a less formal atmosphere. There was good food, interesting people and... some surprises.


DAY 2 - Wednesday, 16 October

8:30-9:00 Registration & Coffee


9:00-9:30 Opening and reflections from Day 1


9:30-10:00 Reclaiming the city for people. Lessons from Lisbon

Lack of affordable housing, social exclusion and gentrification, spurred by capitalist logic of maximizing profits, are challenges few cities in Europe are immune to. Luckily, an increasing number of cities are looking to pursue an alternative vision of urban development, built on community empowerment, common good and respect for nature. Lisbon is at the forefront of this global movement, and the participants had a chance to hear more about their experience so far and plans for the future.


10:00-12:00 Room full of ideas: grab your seat!

Establishing a community land trust, seeking to fund your activities or curious how to set-up a sustainable business model for an old factory turned community centre? These and many more questions were addressed in a series of conversations with experts and practitioners from across Europe.

Experts included:


12:00-13:00 Panel discussion: Funding a Co-Operative City

The money question is the cold shower being served to changemakers and dreamers across the world. Should we be afraid of it? Is it possible to have neighbourhoods and projects that are sustainable, just and financially feasible? Participants found out more about new legal and financial models being implemented across Europe.





13:00-13:30 Closing & next steps


13:30-14:30 Lunch

Organised by



ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability
European Secretariat, Leopoldring 3, 79098 Freiburg, Germany


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