Creativity and urban development: report on the Reverse Mission 2019 in Baden-Württemberg

From 21-23 May 2019 the Districts of Creativity Network’s tenth Reverse Mission took place in Baden-Württemberg, hosted by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Labour and Housing of the state of Baden-Württemberg. The Steinbeis Europa Zentrum supported the agency with the planning, organisation and realisation the Reverse Mission. The main theme of this fact-finding mission was focused on creativity and urban development in the Stuttgart-region, one of Europe’s most innovative high-tech regions and an important financial centre.

Day 1 – Mannheim

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The three day visit with an international group of high level stakeholders (policy makers, innovation experts, entrepreneurs and regional representatives) from all regions in the DC Network started in Mannheim.

With more than 1.4 million square meters the so called Franklin village was the biggest US-military base in Mannheim and is now converted into a new urban district for about 9.000 residents. Plans for conversion of the area started in 2011 with a citizen participation process and now first citizens have moved in.

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After this first stop we had a meet-up with people of the Creative Commission Mannheim, which is an institution dedicated to the interests of the cultural and creative industries in the city, offering advise to creative minds, arranging and leasing workspaces, provides platforms for networking and the exchange of knowledge and much more.

Already in 2007 the city decided to embrace creative industries (and more specifically music) as a strategic asset for urban development. The University of Popular Music and Music Business in Mannheim was the first state higher education institution for popular music and music business in Germany. Nowadays creative industries are still an important building block in the city’s economic policy strategy.

Day 2 – Stuttgart

The second day kicked off with a visit to the High Performance Computing Center (HLRS). Established in 1996, the center has built up a world leading expertise in supporting and training end-users of all application sectors, especially in fields like for example visualization or big data. Besides acting as a scientific research center, the center als cooperates with companies and artists in the creative industries, specifically those in need of powerful computing capacity, such as animation, VR and visual effects studio’s as well as new media artists. In 2015 major parts of the movie „Maya the Bee“ were computed at the HLRS as a pilot project. Visual effects company Pixomondo, originally from Stüttgart but now a world player, stunned us with a inside peek in how visual effects were created for scenes in the series “Game of Thrones” and many blockbuster movies.

The day closed off with a meet-up with Veit Haug, director Creative Industries at the Stuttgart Region Economic Development Corporation. With app. 10.000 creative companies and a turnover of € 7 billion, the Stuttgart region boasts a vibrant creative industries scene. Besides film, design and music, the region also hosts the highest amount of architecture firms in Europe.

Day 3 – Heilbronn

On the third day the Reverse Mission headed to Heilbronn, with a “behind-the-scenes” tour through the new Experimenta Science Center. Covering an area of around 25,000 square meters, Experimenta offers a fascinating world of knowledge and self-exploration. With about 275 interactive creative studios and laboratories as well as an observatory and a Science Dome, science can be experienced here with all senses.

Another highlight was a guided tour through the Federal Garden Show in Heilbronn. The show combines a classic garden exhibition with state-of-the art showcases of innovation in different domains (i.e. construction, social housing, agriculture…). Within the area a totally new city quarter has been built.

From small scale experiments to large urbanisation projects: this Reverse Mission has shown the impact creativity and creative industries can have on urban placemaking throughout a range of impressive projects.

Are you interested in joining the next Reverse Mission? Contact us for more info!