Bright Cityscapes is a multidisciplinary program within the Timișoara 2023 European Capital of Culture initiative. Its purpose is to create a design laboratory for the city — one interested in observing, responding and acting on the contemporary urgencies within both Timișoara and the discipline of design, architecture and digital culture. Starting from situated research in Timișoara’s productive and academic ecosystem, the program brings together international thinkers, designers, sociologists, creative networks, academia, institutions and companies, in a series of exhibitions, conferences, workshops and other events.
Recognising the ever-evolving nature of design, Bright Cityscapes explores design’s intricate relationship with contemporary challenges and technological advancements by zooming into the specific context of Timișoara. Design is considered not merely an external entity but an intrinsic part of the productive reality of the city. Timișoara is designed by how its industrial, cultural, academic, and political systems interpret, integrate, and materialise design. By approaching design as a creative discipline deeply entwined with the various systems that shape the city, Bright Cityscapes emphasises its significance in the everyday life of Timișoara. The program launched with the exhibition Mirroring the Ecosystem, which documented manifestations of design and its economic implications in Timișoara.
Following this exhibition, Bright Cityscapes sought to challenge this incidental design of the city by inviting multidiscplinary teams to develop projects that use design as an investigative and informational tool to explore Timișoara’s productive systems. Collaboration is a key element of Bright Cityscapes, with these teams emerging from partnerships between researchers, engineers, company workers, CEOs, institutions, and designers from Romania, its diaspora, and the international community.
The projects are informed by the commissioned ‘Economy in Timișoara: Territorial Distribution of the Economy in the Timișoara Metropolitan Area’ report, which draws on data-driven and anthropological methodologies to explore the city’s economic ecosystem. The report considers the historical factors shaping the economy of Timișoara, as well as exploring the current industrial ecology, including analysing the geography of work, import-export dynamics, ownership networks, and local and foreign investments.
The results are presented in the culminating exhibition of Bright Cityscapes, Turn Signals — Design is not a Dashboard. The exhibition fosters connections between different approaches, places, and people, serving to bridge gaps and generate a deeper appreciation of the interconnectedness within Timișoara and design. Different media, storytelling formats, and design languages are used to explore both the hidden narratives and untapped resources within Timișoara, and how design can intersect with and question topics related to industry more generally. By dislocating the expected media and aesthetics of how the city is represented, the exhibition tells compelling stories that invite different ways of seeing, expanding imaginative possibilities.
Bright Cityscapes also places importance on education and the stimulation of future generations of designers. The Atlas of Distances exhibition, launched in September, showcased the results of a collaboration between three design schools, highlighting the impactful ideas that can emerge through stimulating and supporting young designers. In addition to exhibitions and workshops, Bright Cityscapes also hosts a series of conferences and events that further seek to encourage convivial engagement, reflection and learning across diverse audiences.
Through its manifold research, collaborations and events, Bright Cityscapes serves as a platform for knowledge exchange, inviting the citizens and stakeholders of Timișoara to perceive design as a powerful tool for understanding, questioning, and transforming the city. It fosters a dynamic environment for interdisciplinary collaboration and encourages exploration of new possibilities in design and urban development.