UNIC CityLabs Festival

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Aleksanterinkatu 9

9 Aleksanterinkatu

90100 Oulu


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The CityLabs festival brings together researchers, students, and associate partners from eight European universities and cities in Oulu!

About this event

The annual UNIC CityLabs Festival is coming to Oulu! Join the festival’s interesting workshops where researchers, students, and associate partners from eight European universities and cities work together to address the future of post-industrial cities.

The event is organized by the University of Oulu in collaboration with the City of Oulu and other actors in the area. The opening ceremony of the festival will be held on 15th of June at the Oulu City Theater. The eight universities and cities of the UNIC network will gather in the center of Oulu on the 16th of June for workshops covering the following topics and more:

  • Urban Planning as Means for Pandemic Prevention
  • Cultural heritage and sustainable urban tourism
  • Aging Well in Post-Industrial cities
  • Diversity, Trust, and Two-Way Integration
  • The transformation of post-industrial infrastructure to communal spaces
  • Sports for Diversity and Inclusion

The workshops will be held in English.

During the festival week you can play the Unique Oulu adventure game, which takes place in the city center of Oulu. During the game players will navigate from point to point with the help of a mobile app. The Unique Oulu adventure game will be playable between the 11th and 17th of June and can be played at any time of the day. The approximately four-kilometer route begins at Rotuaari square and ends in Snellman Park. Read more and how to play.

Full Programme

15th of June

18-21 Festival opening ceremony and reception for the UNIC community hosted by the City of Oulu at Oulu City Theatre

16th of June

12-16 Public living room and culture café at Rotuaari Square

9 - 17 Workshops at Aleksinkulma and BusinessAsema

9:30-11:30 Aging-Well in Post-Industrial Cities

Meet GeroNursing Centre (GNC) and plan collaboration and build networks for competence in restorative care of older adults. Get to know GeroNurse and GeroFriend online courses that will be available for international audience in the upcoming autumn and share your ideas and thoughts related to them. To spice up the session, get to know and experience restorative care of older adults yourself and get involved!

With speakers Sinikka Lotvonen, PhD, Post doctoral researcher interested in effectiveness of restorative care of older adults; Kaisa-Mari Saarela, MSc, University Teacher and PhD candidate interested in competence of healthcare professionals on restorative care of older adults and Maria Korvola, MSc, University Teacher interested in leadership of restorative care. Hosted by Heidi Siira, PhD, university lecturer and post doctoral researcher interested in wellbeing, quality of life, disability and reablement of older adults. University of Oulu GeroNursing Centre.

9:30-11:30 Cultural Heritage and Sustainable Urban Tourism

This workshop provides a forum for discussion and debate on urban tourism sustainability in the light of tourist pressure in historic city centers as well as the contribution that cultural heritage makes to the social well-being of different groups living within cities.

The session is hosted by Siamak Seyfi, Assistant Professor in Tourism Geography, University of Oulu. His research focuses on cultural heritage, resilience, sustainability as well as tourist behavior and sustainable consumption practices.

9:30-11:00 Political Participation of Migrants and Minorities

Our Post-Industrial cities have become more diverse. There are many different types of people, ethnicities and nationalities, living in our cities, however, this diversity is not represented in political participation and decision making in local government and across public, private sector and community life. This open workshop invites all with an interest in this topic, especially citizens, NGO and CSO representatives from across the 10 UNIC cities and Universities that either work with or have personal experience of this phenomenon to explore this challenge and consider opportunities to connect across our European cities for collaborative action.

Hosted by representatives of University College Cork.

11:00-13:00 Misplaced Concreteness: Hybrid immersive simulations

“Universal Access” for everyone in all places, bomb shelters, classrooms, bathrooms, and on the moon. Should this be our aim or the prerequisite of our built environments? Would putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, or wheelchair, or glasses as a contemplation or a simulation lead to a deeper understanding of the built environments’ constraint? Would inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility in the built environment be a key performance indicator of what makes UNIC unique?

In this hands-on workshop participants experience first-hand the constraints of the built environment by role-play. Participants will go out to lunch in groups of three or four but in a wheelchair or with your eyes blocked or your ears plugged and reflect on this experience to then propose your own action plan for accessibility.

The workshop is hosted by Yvonne Pennisi, an Occupational Therapist and academic with over 20 years experience. She is a specialist in environmental modification and access, developing and running courses for companies, builders and OTs in Ireland and Australia (UCC) and Jim Harrison, an architect, teacher and researcher at the Cork Centre for Architectural Education, promoting inclusion for everyone in the built environment through diverse application of universal design principles.

11:30-13:00 Lunch break

13:00-15:00 Resistant European Cities: Urban Planning as Means for Pandemic Prevention

Despite many previous and recent pandemic outbreaks in urban areas, consideration of infectious disease prevention in urban planning has largely been neglected. How should the post-industrial European cities be planned and designed to sustain better citizens health and wellbeing? Come and share your views in an interactive co-creation workshop organized by the RECIPE Research Consortium.

Hosted by Helka-Liisa Hentilä (Dr. Tech. Arch. SAFA), a professor in Urban Design and Planning (since 2003-) at the Oulu School of Architecture, University of Oulu. She is the PI of the multidisciplinary research consortium "Resistant Cities. Urban Planning as Means for Pandemic Prevention" (RECIPE 2021-2024).  She is also a registered urban planning practitioner, and an author of 15 prize-winning or awarded national and international architecture competition entries; Anna Suorsa (PhD) a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oulu, Research Unit for History, Culture and Communication Studies, examining Knowledge Management and knowledge-creating interaction, especially in multidisciplinary research and stakeholders; and Anna-Maija Multas (PhD) a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oulu, Research Unit for History, Culture and Communication Studies.

13:00-15:00 Antiracism in Practice: How to Make Work Life More Inclusive?

While Finland wants to attract “international talent”, international degree students, other highly educated migrants, and minority youth regularly face obstacles when trying to find employment in their professional fields. This session discusses structural racism in the labor market and seeks to find ways to make work life more inclusive.

The discussion is hosted by Johanna Hiitola, university lecturer in gender studies at the University of Oulu (UO), Iida Kauhanen, doctoral researcher in education (UO), Outi Kähäri, postdoctoral researcher in history (UO), and Sari Vanhanen, postdoctoral researcher at the Migration Institute of Finland. The researchers work in the project “Mobile Futures: Diversity, Trust, and Two-Way Integration” (Strategic Research Council within the Academy of Finland, 2021-2027).

13:00-15:00 Sounds of the city

Participants are invited to dive into an urban sonic journey to re-read the city and create their own rhythms and sounds with sound designer and researcher Dr. Oğuz Öner. Following a presentation on sound perception and a practice of sound meditation, on the silent soundwalk, participants will deeply listen out for the sounds of nature and daily life that may have forgotten to be heard in Oulu. After listening to the sonic layers of nature and the streets of Oulu; they will draw their own sonic mind maps on papers. Then, with the help of Öner, they will interpret these maps into conducted improvisational rhythmic textures and melodies, using their own body voices.

Dr. Oğuz Öner is a cultural manager, sound designer and urban researcher. He works on sound oriented, psychogeographic projects on the axis of art and design and defines himself as a 'sound weaver' with his multi-instrumentalist identity. The strong connection of sound with city, nature, history and human-space communication gives direction and inspiration to his works.

13:00-14:45 (At BusinessAsema) From ideas to implementation: How to strengthen students’ working life opportunities in Oulu!

The population of Oulu is growing, but, at the same time, according to the City of Oulu, there is a migration loss in a particularly significant, 25–39-year-olds, age group. The removal of the highly skilled workforce from the area weakens prospects for development and can lead to a brain drain phenomenon, especially among recent graduates.

University of Oulu students and recent graduates recently participated in an idea competition on how to strengthen student's working life opportunities to combat brain drain in Oulu. Now the three winners are invited again to further discuss their ideas with the local business ecosystem and the UNIC community. The aim of this session is to take a step further to share how some of these ideas are already implemented in the local community and look for other implementation ideas.

15:00-15:15 Break

15:15-17:00 From the tower to the square: Transforming post-industrial historical sites into community cores

What does it take to revive a building? Why do we need continuity? How do we preserve a sense of place? And, who can make it sustainable?

The rehabilitation of a building is a structural and material endeavor, but making it communal is a social and political challenge. Together we will explore the technologies, practices and challenges of Adaptive Reuse. In four case studies our panelists will discuss barriers to best practice and the meaning of palimpsest in transforming post-industrial sites into community cores.

The Panel is moderated by Maroun C. Tabbal, a Comprehensive Anticipatory Design Architect, teaching Technology innovation Research at the Centre for Architectural Education at University College Cork.

15:15-17:00 Sports for Diversity and Inclusion

How can we increase opportunities for engagement in sport and physical activity for heath and wellness; ensuring that it is accessible to everyone of any ability, age, race or socio-economic background? The UNESCO Global Design Challenge for Sport and Physical Activity crowdsources radical, innovative ideas that enables wellbeing for people of all ages and abilities to lead active healthy lives. Teams from across the globe will come together in October 2022 to tackle this challenge, with best ideas awarded incubation supports that can bring design solutions to reality. This hybrid roundtable panel discussion will inspire and share practical supports for matchmaking and developing UNIC teams to participate in the UNESCO Global Design Challenge. Please email Ciara. to register for the session.

Hosted by representatives of University College Cork.

15:15-17:00 Tackling Inequalities

Tackling Inequalities is a Masters Honours Programme of Erasmus University Rotterdam where students practice co-creating interventions for tackling inequalities in cities. In the programme students experience a new approach to student impact that works not just for but especially with representatives and members of communities that are affected by these inequalities. During the session students of the programme will present their real-life projects that work towards tackling inequlities in Rotterdam.

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