Learning in the city has to go beyond schools and universities. Cities should built urban fabric and social interactions that make everyday a new encounter with culture, art, creativity and imagination.

In the city we hear, smell, touch and taste. We move and share experiences. We encounter love, passion, inspiration and challenges in life. The way the city is built and the interactions it fosters can make the learning experience joyful or desolated.

When music invades the streets the landscape changes, communities gather and the city becomes more human. Recently in Paris, I experienced the Fête de la Musique an open doors, free and collaborative mobilization of music in the streets. Since 1982 La Fete de la Musique has become a moment for dialogue and inspiration for the Parisians and it has scaled over 100 countries in the world making music the voice of the city for one day.

Fete de la Musique

Fete de la Musique Paris 2014 © Juan Manuel Restrepo

In all cities we can find spaces that lack sounds that need to be filled. After the earthquake of 2010 in Christchruch, New Zealand that destroyed the centre of the city a group of activist created “Gap Filler”, an initiative that brings culture back to desolated spaces. With music, art and dance this project wants to congregate communities and build new urban imaginaries.

Source: Project GapFiller: Piano

Source: Project GapFiller: Piano

“Life comes when you give people a chance to contribute something”

Coralie Winn, Co-founder Gap Filler

Source: © DAVID HALLET/Fairfax NZ www.stuff.co.nz

Source: © DAVID HALLET/Fairfax NZ http://www.stuff.co.nz

Music is not the only way to bring vivacity to spaces. In many cities the walls have become the space of expression through art. They are the reflection of ideas, thoughts and inspiration of artists that foster an urban gallery. With colors in the streets that express joy and happiness we can enable curiosity in citizens and raise urban cohesion.

Street Art San Francisco © Juan Manuel Restrepo

Street Art San Francisco © Juan Manuel Restrepo

“Cities are places where varied publics can come together to co-create civic realm”

Charles Landry


Urban Galler Berges de Seine, Paris © Juan Manuel Restrepo

Street Art San Francisco © Juan Manuel Restrepo

Street Art San Francisco © Juan Manuel Restrepo

Street Art, Medellín © Juan Manuel Restrepo

Street Art, Medellín © Juan Manuel Restrepo


Music and arts are only two urban tools that enhance inspiration and collaboration in cities. There are multiple ways of building a joyful experiences and learning environment in cities where people contribute with their talents and capacities. If we re-imagine and re-think our cities towards a learning city we can turn weak and neglected spaces into imaginative urban encounters.

“Only if learning is placed at the centre of our daily experience can individuals continue to develop their skills and capacities”

Charles Landry

Twitter: @juanmrestrepo

 1Post Inspired by The Art of City Making of Charles Landry & The Human Scale documentary of Andreas M. Dalsgaard.

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