Bilbao is getting hot. In the coziness of this unexpected September good weather, Bilbao is jumping with charm on the scene of the most active cities of the world. In this new world order, small scale territories with a powerful identity are more prepared to compete than some not so resilient giants of the past.
Bilbao is a leading city in the Basque Country, an intriguing piece, but it´s all that rich culture next to it, the self-dependent Basque Country, what’ worth a visit, and not a short one.
I had the opportunity to come back to my hometown at the same time that the Red Bull Cliff Diving event was being held, though my real aim was to visit colleagues, family and my NER group mates. One of the reasons of my trip was also the fact that we have been presenting our BIRLOKI project at the BIA forum (Bilbao Bizkaia Architecture Forum) in which Mexico was the invited country for this first edition, and we also exhibited part of our past work on the regeneration of Bilbao on the walls of the San Nicolas metro station in Bilbao. The regeneration of cities, healing the cities and offering resilient responses to urban problems was the main them of the congress and Bilbao has a great successful expertise to share in this specific field. The first BIA prize was offered to Sir Norman Foster, author of the Metro of Bilbao, an important infrastructure for the regeneration of the Metropoli of Bilbao.
Basques are assertive, brave, maybe too quick-tempered… and this is a value nowadays.
Innovation has a big part of this variety of craziness. We are facing a new era in which the combination of Information and Communication Technologies and the Public Space are about to get engaged, but still the relationship is being built. They don´t really admit they need each other.
However, in the Basque Country our research on Interactive Public Space is having a warm welcome. We talked to Bilbao Municipality, to San Sebastian 2016, European Capital of Culture and to the Municipality of Getxo. Happily, there are some managers that have a visionary look into the future and trust innovation (and innovators). As we use to repeat in NER group, business is not about companies, it´s about people.
Our BIRLOKI project is getting more and more real. We are developing a three legs strategy, a looping and self-nurturing system that will allow the participation of people and the correct management and analysis of data. The first step or, let´s say, the physical target of this approach, lies on the real public realm. There, we analyze the conditions of the outdoor space we want to boost and we create a network of Urban Acupuncture points to improve the quality of the city. These points show up after a specific urban study and implement the necessary technical elements to activate as many human life parameters as we want to tackle each time. But we need two other steps to create this flow of knowledge and sensations in a bottom-up direction. From the lower, closer to the ground, down to earth point of view, we create, we deploy real interactive Public Participation tools. We activate gameful resources that shift and unveil a Digital Identity of the Territory. For this tasks we have a really helpful partner, Úbiqa, working on mapping social activities and offering visitors and citizens new ways to take part in a city-citizen compromise.
On the other side of the equation, we have a technological partner, the basque Cooperative Research Center in Tourism, CICtourGUNE. CICtourGUNE researches on human mobility and extracts data information that is useful to have feedback that nurtures the rest of the chains in our system.
This way, we build a three legs interwoven system that enables an intelligent and emotional growth forward and backward, elaborating a public interaction process based on technology and the correct interpretation of data of the public space.
It´s been a profitable trip to Bilbao, feeding the BIRLOKI project with new inputs and partners. Like the Watchowsky siblings, former brothers, we will perform a new vision of Bilbao and society.
post by Juan Sadaba, nerei coordinator