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When the city is a laboratory

September came to an end with the urban exploration laboratories – in partnership with young people lead by youth workers from different organisations of three neighbourhoods in Lisbon. First at Biblioteca de Marvila, then atAssociação Futebol de Rua (Bairro Padre Cruz) and finally with Clube Intercultural Europeu (at Casa da Cultura da Picheleira) – these Local Labs_Lisboa sought to focus on the city around us.

Local Labs are part of the Erasmus+ UrbEX Project, a partnership between five organisations: 4Change from Lisbon, Tesserae from Berlin (Germany), Zemos98 from Seville (Spain), NomadWays from Toulouse (France) and Bond of Union from Palermo (Italy). The UrbEX partnership seeks to engage young people between 16 and 25 years old by exploring their urban environment. Last June, 4Change took a group of youth workers from three Lisbon neighbourhoods to an intensive training organised by the UrbEX team in Palermo – the methodology chosen then, to work with young people in Lisbon, was Game Design Thinking for RPG – Roleplay games.

Through Gamification and Design Thinking approaches – facilitated by Associação Elemento – these #urbexlocallabs combined theory with practice: thinking about the city through a playful look, nurturing critical thinking and using urban exploration as a key resource in collaboration within each neighbourhood and between their communities.

Bringing together groups of young people from various parts of the city, 4Change, together with #anfrfutrua, the #clubeinterculturaleuropeu and the young participants, joined everyone last 24th of September in Marvila’s Public Library: a day for sharing, to play the RPGs that were designed in the previous days and understand the intervening factors in the city’s day-to-day life of young people. The results are visible in young people’s engagement.

To deepen knowledge on this topic the URBEX Handbook will soon be launched, a free resource with ready to use methods and tools for educators, teachers, local activists, urban planners and workers in the social and educational sector. An innovative publication that uses urban exploration as an educational model, with a specific focus on young people at risk of social exclusion. You can subscribe to the UrbEX newsletter here.

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