You are here

Polyak

Levente

Polyak

Validated Lead Expert

Generic Skills

B.1. Understanding of integrated and sustainable urban development: 
I am an urban planner and researcher, with a background in architecture and sociology. I have been working in the context of urban planning and policy since 2002, starting with a research on the energetic dimension of the revitalization of prefabricated housing estates in the Budapest region. Between 2004 and 2007, I worked on studies for the Regional Research Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Between 2007 and 2009, I studied and worked for the New York and Paris municipalities. In 2009-2012, I have been teaching courses at the Environmental Communication program of the Budapest University of Technology (becoming member of the university’s Environmental Psychology Research Laboratory), and at the Moholy-Nagy University’s Design Theory and Management program. As board member of the KÉK - Hungarian Contemporary Architecture Centre (www.kek.org.hu) since 2006, and of the Wonderland Platform for European Architecture since 2011, I have been initiating and organizing a series of conferences, exhibitions, festivals as well as professional workshops, research projects and development programs, focusing on urban regeneration. In 2012, I launched the Lakatlan Budapest program, examining policies and methods of temporary use and revitalization of abandoned urban properties. In 2013-2015, I participated at the Urbact Pilot program “Temporary Use as a Tool for Urban Regeneration.” See more details at http://polyaklevente.net and http://eutropian.org
B.2. Understanding of exchange and learning processes at transnational level: 
As a planner and researcher, I have been participating at transnational exchange and learning activities for over a decade. In 2004-06 I was participant of the HERMES Research Project on Heritage and Territorial Development, organized by the Bauhaus University in Weimar. In 2007-08, in the frame of a one-year internship, I worked at the New York Department of City Planning’s Manhattan Office, focusing on land use analyses, environmental impact reviews and policy implementation surveys. In 2009, during another internship at the Paris municipality’s Délégation à la Politique de la Ville et de l’Intégration, I worked on the social regeneration of an area at the Northern periphery of Paris. Between 2010 and 2013, I was researching the potentials of crowd-sourced data in urban planning at the Paris-based Orange Labs SENSELab in 2010, at the Columbia University’s Spatial Information Design Lab in 2011 and real estate policies and new forms of mobility at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture Paris-Malaquais in 2013. I am member of various professional and research networks and I have participated at shaping Urbact, Interreg and Horizon2020 projects. These experiences help me understand the challenges and perspectives of urban regeneration in different aspects and international contexts, and cooperate with stakeholders from a diversity of disciplines and socio-economic contexts. See more details at http://polyaklevente.net and http://eutropian.org
B.3. Proficiency in English: 
I speak fluent English, French and Hungarian, and have a good knowledge of Italian and German. Besides my work experience at the New York City Department of City Planning’s Manhattan Office, I was also Research Fellow at the Columbia University as well as visiting lecturer at the Vienna University of Technology’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Urban Culture and Public Space. I have a record of lectures and workshops held and courses taught in English, in various European and North-American cities (http://polyaklevente.net/?page_id=94). I also publish regularly articles in English (http://polyaklevente.net/?page_id=64).

Expertise for the design and delivery of transnational exchange and learning activities:

Summary Expertise for the design and delivery of transnational exchange and learning activities: 
My experience of working with a number of European municipalities helped me understand the challenges and perspectives of urban regeneration in a diversity of contexts. With a background in both planning and social sciences, my ambition is to create substantial links between the different professional fields addressing urban development issues and to enhance cooperation between stakeholders from a diversity of disciplines and socio-economic contexts. Having participated at transnational projects, I dispose of sound methodologies for designing cooperation, organizing research, moderating exchange, delivering content and disseminating results. An important focus in my work is to link bottom-up initiatives with top-down processes and to help creating a shared language and engage protagonists in a dialogue. I often use events to create a collaborative environment in which the shared experience helps participants structure their conclusions and conceive reproducible and transferable models for intervening in urban environments. These events are designed to create moments to exchange and focus, to give visibility to certain problems and to help stakeholders connect with each other. Currently I am working on projects related to urban regeneration, local economic development, citizen participation and local governance. See more details at http://polyaklevente.net and http://eutropian.org

Thematic expertise:

Theme / Policy: 
Integrated Urban Renewal
Summary Thematic expertise: 
My work experience at the municipalities of New York, Paris and Budapest gave me a variety of insights in contemporary issues, dilemmas and concepts of integrated urban renewal, in participatory planning processes, resource-based regeneration models and sustainable development methods in particular. In my projects, I aim at integrating viewpoints of a variety of disciplines and connect policies, planning processes, physical interventions and bottom-up initiatives with the involvement of a variety of stakeholders. In the Urbact policy transfer project “Temporary Use as a Tool for Urban Regeneration” we did, for instance, connect the themes of sustainability, social inclusion with job creation and short food chain distribution, and linked together policy recommendations with physical interventions. Combining my professional activities with research, I continue publishing critical analyses as well as policy articles and recommendations in various academic and professional journals. In addition, I participate at academic research and professional networks focusing on cooperative urban development, temporary use, public space and participation. See more details at http://polyaklevente.net and http://eutropian.org
Theme / Policy: 
Local Economic Development
Summary Thematic expertise: 
By researching the transforming local economy of various Budapest districts, I had an insight into the dynamics of rapid commercialisation, experienced by many European cities in the past decade. Working at the New York City Department of City Planning, I got acquainted with many planning tools, including zoning, Business Improvement Districts, incentives, etc. used to strengthen certain elements in the economic profile of a neighborhood. In the Vacant City program, launched with the Hungarian Contemporary Architecture Centre, I explored notions of temporary use with a strong focus on local economic potentials and capacities: I conducted research into “neighborhoods as incubators.” In the past years, I organized Project Space workshops in several cities with the ambition of defining models for a circular economy at the local level. In 2011, I co-curated a symposium with international experts to empower local market vendors. In the past years, I began to explore new tendencies in local economic development: with the Funding Urbanism series, I looked at new economic models of cooperative urban development, where new types of ownership formats correspond to new ways of job creation and commercial activities. I currently work on projects to strengthen retail and local commerce in various European cities. See more details at http://polyaklevente.net and http://eutropian.org
Theme / Policy: 
Local Governance
Summary Thematic expertise: 
In the past years, many experiments challenged the standards of local governance. Crowd-sourced data, participatory planning processes, cooperative development models, parallel welfare infrastructures and the commons are all new concepts and formats that emerge in various points of Europe and begin interacting with traditional ways of governing the city. In my activities, I look for ways to create more substantial links between these experiments and local authorities, by connecting the viewpoints of a variety of disciplines and stakeholders: public administrations, professional actors as well as local community members. My past years’ activities, focusing on community-led development, cooperative ownership models, local commerce and the temporary use of vacant properties, all correspond to new governance models: they all look for ways for a better use of local resources, energies, ideas and capacities, and for sharing responsibilities. In both my research and professional work, I aim at bringing together actors and practices that address questions of governance in an innovative way: linking the otherwise often separated policy, planning, social, architectural and cultural scenes. See more details at http://polyaklevente.net and http://eutropian.org

Expertise support to local authorities and other stakeholders in designing & delivering integrated and participatory policies

E.1. Knowledge on participatory methods and tools for co-production and implementation of local polices : 
One of the key missions of my activities is to connect local authorities with various stakeholder groups. I began to concentrate on this challenge when I recognized the structural problem of the gap that separates municipalities from private and community stakeholders in many European cities. I found that major components of a potential cooperation were trust and a shared language. To enable municipalities, private companies, NGOs and community groups to work together, I set myself to experiment with potential frameworks of exchange. 1. With the Hungarian Contemporary Architecture Centre, I have been cooperating with various municipalities, organizing participatory workshops, community meetings, extracting ideas for redesigning public spaces, reorganizing food markets, reusing vacant buildings and unused brownfields as well as to revitalize local commerce and economic development in central Budapest neighborhoods. 2. In the Adaptable City workshop series I have been organizing in Budapest since 2012, the aim is to bring together different stakeholders, engage them in activities of thinking together along a shared objective, thus recognizing each others’ viewpoints, capacities and requests. 3. In the Project Space series, I co-organized workshops where local stakeholders, together with international architecture and planning teams, created plans and strategies for neighborhoods in Budapest, Vienna and Kiev.
E.2. Knowledge on integrated approach for the design, delivering, monitoring and evaluation of urban strategies/policies: 
In every project, regular feedback of the proceedings is one of the conditions of both directing the project in the right decision and of evaluation. Good monitoring requires adequate indicators and well-defined objectives. 1. In TUTUR as well as in the Adaptable City workshop series, I helped elaborate strategies and policy recommendations for the reuse of vacant properties, thus linking objectives of sustainable urban regeneration, social inclusion, local economic development and cultural integration. As part of these programs, we also elaborated monitoring tools that combined mapping platforms with a variety of indicators to measure the achievements of the process and with feedbacks of the stakeholders participating in the processes. As a result of the project, I published with Daniela Patti a policy analysis based on mostly European practices. 2. In the course of the Vacant City program in Budapest, I contributed to the elaboration of very detailed system of indicators, helping the monitoring of the project’s proceedings. 3. In establishing cooperation between various cities aiming at strengthening their local commerce, I got acquainted with local economic monitoring tools that I began to use in analyzing the problems and possibilities in other cities as well.
E.3. Awareness of the main policy and funding schemes for sustainable urban development at EU and national level: 
Besides reading research and policy papers, studies and thematic blogs, I also travel intensively to keep myself updated about the current issues, debates and experiments in urban planning and policy and to deepen my knowledge of the policy challenges and solutions of the visited cities. I am a frequent visitor of events of policy networks like Urbact, the EUKN, JPI Urban Europe, and I actively participated in various policy, research, innovation and cultural cooperation networks. Due to my interdisciplinary background, I have at the same time access to 1. research cooperations between universities and research centres, through conferences, congresses, workshops, 2. professional cooperations between local development agencies, planning and architectural firms through workshops (like those of the Wonderland Platform for European Architecture) and best practice exchange networks (like the Re:Kreators network), 3. cultural cooperations between NGOs like the Hungarian Contemporary Architecture Centre’s exchange projects in Central Europe, 4. policy transfer and co-production activities between municipalities, regional and national bodies and international organizations, like Urbact projects. This diversity allows me to be aware of the potential roles, needs and expectations of various stakeholders in urban transformation processes, from the community, local administrative and professional levels to regional, national and international scales.
E.4. Ability to understand specific local situations and adapt tools and content to different local realities: 
In the core of my activities lies the challenge to link stakeholders at various levels with each other: to create connections between the international, national and local levels. This requires a good understanding of local contexts, and experience in adapting good practices to local circumstances. My exposure to the current debates and methods in various disciplines and professional fields, and my insights into the work and challenges of various municipalities in Europe help me in identifying the similarities and differences in the policy elements to be used in different locations. My knowledge of various languages allows me to create substantial connections with local stakeholders, helping processes be rooted in local situations and communities, while learning from transnational exchange and international methods. The principle of adaptation has been at the center of projects like 1. TUTUR where the good practice of temporary use was transferred from Bremen to Rome and Alba Iulia, or in the 2. Adaptable City series where mainly Dutch practices and experiences were projected onto Budapest situations, or in the 3. Project Space and Funding Urbanism series where international expertise was mobilized to help reflection on local situations or the local experience of Berlin was mobilized to inspire solutions for other European cities.
Summary Expertise: 
Based on my experience in working with municipalities, in research, planning and transnational policy transfer cooperations, I aspire to connect local authorities with each other and various stakeholder groups, thus creating mutually beneficial learning experiences. One of the structural problems of governing cities today is the gap that separates municipalities from private and community stakeholders in many European cities. I found that major components of a potential cooperation were trust and a shared language. To enable municipalities, private companies, NGOs and community groups to work together, we need to link stakeholders at various levels with each other: to create connections between the international, national and local levels. This demands a good understanding of local contexts, and experience in adapting good practices to local circumstances. In the same time, an integrated approach in designing urban strategies and policies requires the combination of social, economic, cultural and political aspects with environmental perspectives. My exposure to the current debates and methods in various disciplines and professional fields, and my insights into the work and challenges of various municipalities in Europe help me in identifying the similarities and differences in the policy elements to be used in different locations. See more details at http://polyaklevente.net and http://eutropian.org

Informations

Residence location:
Hungary
Languages:
Hungarian - Mother tongue
Foreign Languages level: 
Foreign languages: 
,
Foreign Languages level: 
Foreign languages: 
,
Foreign Languages level: 
Foreign languages: 
,
Foreign Languages level: 
Foreign languages: 
Email:
levente.polyak@eutropian.org
Unavailable - already performing the role of Lead Expert for an URBACT network

Area of expertise