NEB ambition

The ultimate ambition of the New European Bauhaus is to achieve transformation. To do this, the NEB Compass has identified specific levels of ambition that outline the desired outcomes for each of the NEB values.

Action areas

These areas refer to the five key domains of intervention that CrAFt's New European Bauhaus Impact Model considers essential for guiding and evaluating complex urban initiatives.

Participation level

The participation level refers to the degree or extent to which individuals or groups are actively involved or engaged in a particular activity, project, or process. It assesses the depth of their involvement, contributions, and commitment, ranging from minimal or passive participation to active and dedicated participation.

NEB values

The New European Bauhaus (NEB) aims to promote the values of sustainability, aesthetics, and inclusion in the design and transformation of urban spaces. It emphasises the integration of environmental, social, and economic considerations to create harmonious and innovative living environments.

Implementation Stage

According to the Smart City Guidance Package, there are seven stages to plan and implement smart city projects. These stages propose a logical and coherent roadmap for city initiatives involving many stakeholders.

Dare to imagine sustainable futures together

Discover how an interdisciplinary group of students embarked on a journey to reimagine urban spaces through collaborative creativity, embodied engagement, and collective dreaming for sustainability in this insightful reflection on CrAFt's Think/Do Tank event in Amsterdam.


  • Collaborative creativity: Embracing spontaneity and collaborative creativity led to unexpected but innovative outcomes during the Amsterdam Think/Do Tank, such as the creation of physical 3D models of the terrace.
  • Embodied engagement: Engaging participants through embodied activities fostered deeper connections and understanding, facilitating the visualisation of connections and the re-imagination of the terrace as a shared space.
  • Collective Dreaming for Sustainability: Surrendering control and remaining flexible allowed participants to collectively envision a more sustainable future, emphasising the power of collective action and small steps in creating larger changes in urban environments.

In between spaces

We continuously move in between spaces; inside—outside, outside—inside. But how do we create a ground and space to meet one another and foster new green connections? On Thursday, 29 February, an interdisciplinary group of students got together in a Think/Do Tank at the campus of the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS) to ask ourselves the question, how can we (re)CrAFt our surroundings and make it a space that can connect people through a greener and more sustainable way?

The event is part of CrAFt – Creating Actionable Futures, an EU-funded project supporting cities to become climate-neutral, beautiful, and inclusive. It was hosted by the CrAFt Core Group of Students, an international group active within the project aiming to create and share knowledge about urgent issues by proposing participatory models and setting up mechanisms to engage other students across CrAFt cities. One approach is a Think/Do Tank. In this activity, people, through embodied methods, can come together to reflect on, assimilate and propose actions for any urgent issue proposed.

This Think/Do Tank aimed to reflect upon our immediate surroundings through the lens of the New European Bauhaus value, ‘beautiful | sustainable | together’, which responds to needs beyond functionality. The event became a meeting ground where participants could speculate upon the (urban) future of the terrace at AUAS.

To reflect on the day, Sophie Dandanell, currently participating in the Core Group, and Matthijs Schut, a participant in the event and Green Team intern at ELIA met over coffee to chat about the Think/Do Tank.

Matthijs, could you give a run-through of the day?

The day kicked off in the auditorium, with the Core Group introducing us to CrAFt and the New European Bauhaus initiative, which it is a part of. Some icebreakers about what the gardens meant to us and what we could imagine them to be catalysed our creative flow and allowed us to learn more about each other. The first part of the day ended with an engaging panel discussion between Mariken Straat, a gardener and educator, and Amalie’ Sveske’ Ourø, an artist representing the student-led Garden Department. They discussed various topics, including how gardens could interact with the broader ecosystems and how grassroots organisations could contribute to developing this relationship. Mariken also passed around a root from her garden, allowing the audience to interact with a piece of the nature we were discussing.

After a lovely vegetarian lunch, we did a group exercise, passing around yarn among the gardens’ stakeholders to represent their interdependent nature. We then split off into smaller groups, taking a walk around the AUAS roof terrace, which we then tried to reimagine to be a more beautiful and actively shared space. After many fun discussions and designing, each group presented self-made three-dimensional models of the terrace as their group imagined it could be, a fitting and rewarding end-product of the day.

Sophie, was there anything about the way we approached the challenge of reimagining the terrace that surprised you?

One thing that emerged when the Core Group reflected upon the day was that it is so hard to control an event despite having a defined plan. So we all learned how one can surrender to non-control, which can feel counterintuitive. I was shocked with how the brainstorming went, as we had not planned for the participants to create physical 3d-models, and we only had brought paper, sticky notes and pens. However, everyone suddenly began building these beautiful models of what the terrace could look like!

Matthijs, it makes me wonder how being in space together, when one participates rather than just observing, allows you to surrender to time and space, to the non-control of it all?

Letting go of control was definitely not innate; so much of how our homes, cities, and even green spaces are designed seems geared toward control for efficiency, a perspective we had to abandon to get creative. It felt increasingly positive the more we let go, as the idea of treating nature as a participant in our space excited the group and fueled our collective inspiration. This was an essential aspect of the day, as we connected over our shared passions for nature and positively reinforced each other’s hopes and ideas. The ease with which the group connected and cooperated by the end of the day surprised me.

Sophie, how did you design the activities of the day to connect the group?

Within the New European Bauhaus, art and culture play a huge role. It enhances participation and inclusion through embodied approaches. I think we tried to have spaces where people could DO things in space together. For example, we developed an exercise with yarn for people to physically manifest and visualise connections and entanglements between systems, systems as in structures in the city, humans/non-human! Exercises often have the potential to help see and understand otherwise dull spaces in a new light, as you, through moving, connect to the space on a sensory level! During the day, we did several exercises moving our bodies together – an icebreaker, a walk, and throwing yarn.

Matthijs, I’d like to know how you found this. Was there anything that stood out to you in particular?

I really enjoyed the physicality, as exercises such as when we all built a yarn web were not just thought-provoking but also fun and intuitive. The walk we took around the terrace was most memorable as we discussed this grey and seemingly uninteresting place and came to see it from others’ perspectives. It was an excellent way to start the group exercise, where we reimagined the space because the input from everyone’s observations was very different and inspiring and invited us to take our ideas in various directions.

Sophie, after seeing the groups present their redesigns of the terrace at the end of the day, what was your most important takeaway?

One thing that comes back to me again and again when I think about the day is that the sorrel roots are solid and flexible. This encapsulates what I learned during the presentations. We need to dream together to create anew! We all come from different lives and points of view, but surrendering to non-control and becoming flexible helps us deal with today’s world’s many challenges and urgent issues. The day’s energy reassured me by starting with these small actions and being together – things will start happening on a grander scale, too!

Matthijs, did you take any new dreams home?

The day opened me up to the hope that, even if I lived in a city, I and the environment I created could contribute to the ecosystem around me and actually be a part of nature rather than just consuming it.

Sophie, was that what you were going for, as organisers?

Thank you. That is amazing to hear, as we have to start looking at our cities to see how we can contribute to the ecosystems around us! Through the Think/Do Tank(s), I hope that we are able to plant seeds and start conversations so that a new cityscape can emerge!

To conclude our conversation, we began to wonder whether you, the reader would feel motivated by our story to take action at home. Where would you start if you wanted to establish more green connections in your city?

Written by Sophie Dandanell and Matthijs Schut
Photos by Lin Kuanling
Copy edited by Jose Rodriguez

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NEB Values

Participation level

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