Conceptual Thoughts for the 3rd year of program. Why again? What so far? What now?

Published May 2018
Location Berlin
Design WU Yimeng


Three insights led to the program’s design in 2016. First, technological innovation needs to be complemented by social innovation and a more holistic view to sustainable development. Second, a large group of people who studied architecture, urbanism, and city planning between China and Germany are a potential leverage point for stronger Sino-German people-to-people relations. Third, creativity, culture and diversity are transversal design parameters whose power to generate impact is underestimated. Today’s CITYMAKERS’ mission: to grow and enable a network of pioneering citymakers across disciplines who create novel models for livable cities.

What is the outcome so far?

Stories of pioneers to share – although neither mainstream nor against the mainstream yet, there is a critical mass who are seeking fresh approaches and nudging the status quo​. CITYMAKERS China – Germany has scouted and recorded the stories of 70 inspiring citymakers.

Global innovation, local idea creation – Many challenges of urbanization are shared globally. In view of the urgent need for solutions, globally sourcing ideas to be contextualized at the local level can be a source of inspiration, and who knows, innovation. Our citymakers are inspired and supported through enabling ecosystems that facilitate shared learning.

Growing new fields – We cultivated three fields this year: urban agriculture, Future of living and Cultural Memory. For six months, three cross-cultural teams re- searched and worked intensively on joint projects. Witnessing ideas being transformed into action leaves no doubt: it is worth it!

Community is key – the ability to create a community is the key to livable cities. With “Home” as one of the contribution of our guest editor, confirms and elaborates on this concept.

What is important now?

Top-down bottom-up cooperation – Multi-stakeholder cooperation and an integrated strategy for German actors from the third, private and public sectors are not only a potential for innovation but also risk management measures for protecting and expanding spaces for bottom-up non-government citymakers. CITYMAKERS China – Germany will be part of the government-endorsed Sino-German urbanization conference at the end of 2018 in China. In general, strategic partnerships with other ac- tors will become more important in the future.

Scalable social impact – CITYMAKERS China – Germany has identified a number of good stories and practices. But are good practices scalable? More social impact investment can spread practices for common good. A field of support for CITYMAKERS China – Germany to cultivate.

Focus on a shared value compass – in times of increasingly fundamental divide, it is important to focus on the values we share as human beings. The UN Sustainable Development Goals (2030) describe a shared value compass for livable city partnerships.

Making Cities – Making Friends – Collaborating on projects with a shared vision is the best way to turn strangers into trusted peers or (old) friends. And when there are no concrete projects, staying in touch is important. The ongoing CITYMAKERS China – Germany dialogues and interviews help build further relations and create a feeling of belonging to the same community. Joint actions are the result – not the start – of good partnerships.

Katja Hellkötter, Founder CONSTELLATIONS international, Co-initiator and Program Director CITYMAKERS China – Germany.