Report on Round-Table Discussion: Decolonising City-Making Through Cooperation, Care, and Trust-Building

Ricardo Ruiz
2 min readJun 18, 2024


On June 4th, 2024, the Open Culture Office hosted a thought-provoking round-table discussion in Charlottenburg, Berlin, titled “Decolonising City-Making Through Cooperation, Care, and Trust-Building.” The session investigated actionable strategies for advancing decolonial practices and research within everyday city-making. It was a circle of participants from many parts of the globe.

The discussion opened with a critical reflection on the urgent need to address the power imbalances inherent in urbanism, viewed as a colonial system. Participants agreed that decolonisation is not just a theoretical concept, but a pressing need that involves revisiting historical roots and challenging prevailing colonial legacies embedded in urban practices.

The “right to the city” emerged as a key term from the discussion. This concept underscores the importance of collective power and democratic processes in reshaping urban landscapes. It was particularly relevant in regions like Brazil, where systemic barriers limit meaningful participation.

A focus on inclusive models for public spaces, such as community-managed parks and squares, was underscored. Ideas ranged from removing financial barriers (e.g., paywalls) to fostering community activities like dance groups in public libraries. Participants strongly advocated for the need for accessible, low-budget spaces that cater to diverse community needs. At the same time, cultural factors influencing urban planning were critically examined, with concerns raised about the global imposition of Western norms on public spaces such as the public parks themselves. One participant highlighted the epidemic of loneliness in Western urban settings due to poorly designed public spaces, calling for designs that foster social connections and community cohesion.

Participants identified various challenges, including the encroachment of commercial interests on public spaces, bureaucratic hurdles in governance, and diminishing spaces for communal interaction. Solutions discussed included enhancing communication channels, decentralising decision-making processes, and promoting cooperative management between communities and policymakers.

Open Culture Office

The round table concluded with a call for sustained dialogue and collective action. Suggestions included rethinking urban standards to ensure inclusivity and leveraging the untapped potential of small businesses and community initiatives as spaces for social integration and empowerment. This potential offers a hopeful vision for cities that are inclusive, democratic, and responsive to diverse community needs.