Covilhã is a city of Design Avant la Lettre, ie, even before, because the design matrix is very present in its long and sustained industrial tradition, and textiles, which have long seen Design as a precious value generating tool, and it presents an extensive offer at a medium level of schooling provided by various entities within the sector, as well as high levels provided by the University of Beira Interior.
Covilhã’s candidacy as a City of Design seeks, on the one hand, to integrate the academic and training components with the expositive, productive and entrepreneurial aspects of Design and, on the other hand, to raise awareness among all audiences concerning the reality and the performance of Design, provider of quality of life, all the more as it is reflected in the optimization of habitat conditions, in energy optimization, in the use of available resources, in the development of mobility and the dynamics of the relationship between the city and the countryside, with great environmental importance.
Design is at the centre of civic participation dynamics, responding to the specific population needs and ecological and climatic emergency. Through Design and Art, Covilhã can frame an entire urban rehabilitation strategy, increasing its cultural, economic and tourist attractiveness, both in the city and in the surrounding territory, increasing its GDP, namely in the creative industries sector, transforming production and consumption models.
Then, there are strategic internationalization goals, capable of increasing the municipality’s cosmopolitanism, either by integrating UNESCO’s networks and dynamics, of global reach, or by encouraging the circulation of people, goods and, fundamentally, design services.
Main projects for Covilhã, City of Design
The first major project for Covilhã, City of Design, starts by placing Design on the public agenda, as a political and civic priority, through cultural cooperation between different sectors, since design is a powerful mediator between education, industry, academia and public administration, using qualified project practice.
The second project is based on creating a logistical support structure for creators in Design and all related areas, such as Cinema, Media Arts, Architecture and Engineering, capable of leveraging the appearance of start-ups in this domain, of disseminating knowledge and, consequently, fixing population and qualified labour in the city and region.
As a third project, it is essential to conceive permanent equipment aimed at promoting contemporary culture and digital literacy, based on Design as a transformative and integrating force. This model equipment, linked to the city’s other existing structures, such as the Centro de Inovação Cultural, will serve as an additional stimulus for urban regeneration and rehabilitation and the re-functionalization of the city’s numerous underutilized heritages.
A collective ambition
Affirming Covilhã as a city of culture, knowledge, research and innovation is the goal so that the application for UNESCO’s Creative City Network in Design should support and guide public policies and strategies, involving all entities (companies/institutions) and experts, schools and university, as well as the broader community.