Placemaking and Sport in action: Exploring best practices in Nice

By Veronika Mikhaylenko, ISCA

Under the warm sun and light breeze of the French Riviera, the Placemaking and Sport project partners gathered for a second time on 19-21 February, on this occasion in the city of Nice, France. Five representatives of the project’s pilot cities and sports organisations, from Italy, Denmark, Spain, Malta and France, joined ISCA and placemaking experts from BG BeActive (Bulgaria) and Gehl (Denmark) for one of our most active (and outdoor) meetings yet. 

After the project’s kick-off meeting in Copenhagen, the partners under ISCA coordination have been working hard in collaboration with their municipalities and local stakeholders towards the project’s goal - to encourage cities and sports organisations to rethink their sport and physical activity offers through placemaking, and to pilot the development of placemaking infrastructure and new activity programmes in public spaces in their respective cities: Matera, Copenhagen, Valencia, Valletta and Nice. 

The project partners shared some preliminary results of their work, opportunities and challenges they are facing in various geographical and political contexts and with different stakeholder engagement. If a top-down approach can bring great results at one place, a bottom-up one would be still much needed to meet the locals’ interests and needs. At the same time, sometimes hard and unpopular decisions need to be made to make a positive difference in the long run.

On this occasion we were given a unique opportunity to explore what placemaking looks like in the inspirational city of Nice by visiting the National Museum of Sport, where Active Design and the Move Game will be implemented by Azur Sport Sante in collaboration with PlayGones and the National Museum of Sport. The active design around the museum will encourage guests and communities living close by to move and do some physical activities during their visit. Besides this, we had a chance to see local facilities such as a playground transformed on the site of the former parking lot. In the evening, all of the partners were lucky to be able to attend the famous Carnival of Nice and fully enjoy the festive atmosphere of the city.


At the round table discussion, the city representative of Nice shared some facts about the city development, how the embankment pedestrian area is used by runners and cyclists throughout the year, and the city’s outdoor workout facilities. The city’s future plans include extending its cycling paths up to 160 km!

Even though placemaking as a term implies a process of building communities around a place and working with them to reimagine urban spaces as home-like places (PPS, n.d.), every participant found new angles on what it may and should involve, such as nurturing the sense of belonging and commitment to the place, making spaces sustainable, eco-friendly, inclusive and active. The consensus was that all of the stakeholders need to know how to adapt to the changing reality during the co-creation process, which should be tactical and involve continuous placemaking education.

We are excited to follow the progress of the pilot cities and foster this fruitful collaboration in the following months, with the next in-person meeting set for Valencia in June.
Placemaking and sport - Innovative European solutions project is co-funded by European Commission under the Pilot Projects & Preparation Actions (PPPA), PPPA-SPORT-2022 GRASSROOTS-INNOVATION Programme with the following partners: ISCA (lead coordinator); Unione Italiana Sport Per Tutti (UISP), Italy, and Pilot City Matera;  DGI, Denmark, and Pilot City Copenhagen; Deporte Para La Educacion Y La Salud (DES), Spain, and Pilot city Valencia; MOVE Malta and Pilot city Valletta, Azur Sport Sante, France, and Pilot city Nice as well as the experts from  BG Be Active (Bulgaria) and Gehl (Denmark).

Find out more about the project here

Feature photo (top): Cynthia Debono, MOVE Malta

Posted on 28/02/2024 by Veronika Mikhaylenko, ISCA

"Project is funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Neither the European Union nor EACEA can be held responsible for them."