Exploring the NEB Way with Eyes Hearts Hands

Or, the beauty hidden behind meaningful and complex processes.


Once upon a time, there was a fierce fire in the big forest. Feeling powerless, all the animals looked for ways to escape the destruction. Except for the hummingbird. With its tiny body and wings, the little hummingbird decided to go to the river and carry drops of water in her beak so as to try to put out the fire, one drop at a time. Watching from the side, the much larger animals started to mock the little bird about the uselessness of its efforts. “I’m doing the best I can”, said the hummingbird in return. 

This is the fable of Dukdukdiya, the hummingbird, from the Quechua people in Peru.


Aiming to bridge the worlds of art, culture, and education with science and technology, EHHUR [Eyes Hearts Hands Urban Revolution] is one of the firsts six projects chosen by the European Commission, in 2022, to be NEB [New European Bauhaus] Lighthouse Demonstrators. As such, the Horizon Europe project supports 7 cities across EU and Associated countries with innovative co-design and co-investment practices. The aim is to craft and test solutions to their biggest challenges, such as environmental and climate adaptation, social segregation, and reconversion of existing or heritage infrastructure. Foremost, the novelty of the Eyes Hearts Hands approach lies on its methodology, mixing best technical solutions, optimal financing schemes and engagement tools and social innovation practice. 

As part of the methodological strategy, the three catalogues that are produced in the first implementation phase of the project, which kicked-off in Genova, last October, are the main tools for supporting the ‘lighthouse districts’ further on in the development process and stand as a foundational base for the digital tools, feasibility studies and the practical on site implementation to be developed later on throughout the exploratory process.

Leading the technical work package, on ‘Buildings and Districts renovation’, Living Future Europe, one of the six horizontal partners of the project, together with RINA Consulting, CERTH – The Centre for Research & Technology, Hellas and University Roma 3, the work package partners, co-designed a methodological framework for the production of the technical catalogue.

Standing as a methodological tool of its own, as well as a guideline for the lighthouses that are part of the EHHUR project, the catalogue articulates a narrative through four complementary sections, diving from a theoretical and abstract framework for a systemic approach and a regenerative mindset towards site specific solutions that are already implemented and validated as good practice examples in terms of sustainability, aesthetics, and inclusivity. 

Keeping a strong focus on prioritising European solutions, the content development path relies on a ‘zoom in’ approach, collecting case studies that cover a wide range of categories, from city scale to building systems, as regarded from the problematics tackled by the architectural process. The refinement of the gathered material is processed through the lenses of 5 levels of sustainability, from conventional to regenerative, 3 ambition levels of NEB values, and LHs match. These criteria serve as ranking filters as well, for choosing a final selection of 30 best practices solutions, that stand as a general representation of an EHHUR approach from the technical point of view. 

Interconnecting the EHHUR objectives with the potentialities for the urban renovations envisioned by the lighthouse representatives on a higher ground, it is hoped that the mission of the EHHUR initiative will function as an eco-acupuncture mechanism and will generate the change that is needed today for the future of the cities and urban life.

Throughout the storyline, the NEB guideline, often addressed as ‘the soul of the Green Deal’, act as a connecting thread, facilitating the development of new models for regenerative living communities, grounded in solid individual shared values and culture-specific and cross-cultural identities. From what we have learned so far, pushing boundaries towards regenerative futures, the NEB way, is a matter of care, time, and humility. But, above all, in the simplest of words, is about the process, as Dukdukdiya, the hummingbird from the Peruvian fable.

For further details about the Catalogue of best practices solutions and integrated selection method and the EHHUR project, feel free to reach out to us:

. Carlo Battisti – WP4 Coordinator and Steering Committee member

. Loredana Stasisin – Technical Expert

We will be more than happy to share our learnings.


[Header image: Andrea Reiman on Unsplash]