Desire: Designing the Irresistible Circular Society

Desire experiments with creating sustainable, attractive, and inclusive urban spaces which respect the limited resources of the planet, with the recycling of materials, and in interaction with citizens, artists, architects, designers, urban planners, contractors, builders, knowledge institutions, and other organisations.

In short - Desire creates irresistible change. We are one of the European Commission's six New European Bauhaus lighthouse demonstrators. The New European Bauhaus initiative wants to bridge the worlds of art, design, architecture, culture, and education with science and technology in the green transition – and to get a new generation of green-social builders and artists involved. 

Desire will create a movement that sets new standards and develops methods for how Europe transforms existing urban spaces and creates new neighbourhoods through urban development, renovation and construction with respect for the planet and people's different ways of living.


We have prepared a Design Manifesto to steer us and the activities we are about to set in motion. Our five design principles (engagement tools) connect the city with nature, create a green transition through symbiotic communities, and include users in the process of transformation. Keywords: Circularity, Belonging, Biodiversity, Movement, and Aesthetics. Have a look at the boxes below to see them.


Curious about the work at Desire and the background of our project? Have a look at the boxes below to see them.

  • Desire themes and film
  • Manifesto
  • Circularity
  • Belonging
  • Biodiversity
  • Movement
  • Aesthetics
  • Resources
  • Irresistible Cities Lab - ICL

Desire themes and intro film

The overall three themes are:

CREATING SOCIAL AND INCLUSIVE HOUSING – where we address the need for inclusive processes in the circular transformation of social housing.

TRANSFORMATION THROUGH SYMBIOTIC RELATIONSHIPS – where we will focus on how to optimize the use of material flows when rethinking urban landscapes in cities.

RECONCILING CITIES WITH NATURE – where we will design livable habitats and functional ecosystems from a multispecies perspective while rebalancing ‘land use’ to accommodate resource generation and biodiversity social housing.

Desire presents: We act now

Have a short intro to the Desire project - on YouTube

Filmmaker Benjamin Hesselholdt.

Manifesto - We act now!

Our mutual global challenge is clear. We are exceeding the planetary boundaries and our planet is suffering. Social equality and equality between species are negatively affected. We are in need of radical change.

So, we act now by creating a movement that breaks with our traditional linear approach and traditional ways of thinking, collaborating and acting. We stand shoulder to shoulder in an inclusive revolution that embraces, nurtures and experiments with the innovative and creative DNA of art, architecture and design to explore the irresistible circular society by:

Creating social and inclusive housing: We design communities around spaces involving everyone who uses, lives and will live there in the future to make sure everyone benefits from this transformation. We support a sense of belonging by evoking appreciation of and connection to the world around us through sensory experiences. We focus on transparency, trust and inclusiveness in order to create social sustainability. We empower people to take action in the circular transition by making it a natural part of our everyday life. 

Reconciling cities with nature: We advocate a planetary perspective to ensure a sense of belonging for all beings. We act on behalf of all human and non-human species. We raise ambition with a dedicated aim of giving back more than we take from the planet. We experiment and see present boundaries as creative constraints that catalyze future potential.

Transforming through symbiotic relationships
: We work to develop a shared language and establish trust between all species so all can be engaged in solving problems at their core. We use aesthetics to evoke emotions that create synergies between beings. We work together across sectors, disciplines, backgrounds, cities, borders and generations, to create momentum for the irresistible, aesthetic, inclusive, and sustainable society we all long to be part of. 

So, join us in carrying this movement forward by sharing know-how and new perspectives with impact-oriented optimism. Together we can unleash quality of life for people
and the planet. Let this movement assure us that a collective and collaborative imagination can and will change the world to an irresistible circular society.


The Desire design principles - dialogue tools

Click on the images to enlarge. Click on the boxes above to open the next principle.

We unleash a circular mindset.


Imagine the feeling of meeting someone that you have an immediate connection with. You get the instant feeling of being interconnected and at the same time curious to getting to know more about this person. Their story is like a long road running through the landscape making turns and loops, and your road was just lucky enough to cross and merge with theirs. Imagine a longing for knowing their past, everything that has been, and the urge to become a part of what is to come. Now that your roads have crossed, you are already written into their story. Even if it is just for a little while, why not leave a positive impact? Who knows, maybe you will meet again. Imagine that this is what a circular mindset feels like. It is not only knowing the story of your surroundings. It is knowing that you are part of the story and wanting to contribute to a positive change.

This is how we work with circularity

  • We work to make circular processes visible and accessible for all local actors
  • We work to create a collective narrative about circularity and not just profit as a fundamental value
  • We design to encourage circularity in everyday life and commit to challenge and break down our own biases in order to be humble to our surroundings.


The Desire design principles - dialogue tools.

We nurture a sense of belonging


Imagine the feeling of a parent’s warm embrace. Imagine laying your head against their chest, following the movements of the deep and calming breathing as their chest raises and lowers. You feel the bound-aries from where they end and you begin dissolving. You become one. You do not question your place in the world at this very moment. You feel like you could run through the forest at night, not scared of the dark, because you have a fundamental trust in your right to be in this place. Imagine that this is the feeling of belonging. It is when you feel that a place physically and socially allows you to just be and at the same time invites you to shape it and gives you the courage to leave your mark. We are shaped by places and they are also shaped by us, which is what makes us belong.

This is how we work with belonging

  • We put life at the center of all our place-making activities and design places that prosper connection to both the material and immaterial things and the humans and non-humans that surround us
  • We make our senses like hearing, tasting and smelling just as important as rationality
  • We create opportunities for dialogue and cooperation through which beings can connect with each other.


The Desire design principles - dialogue tools.

We embrace a planetary perspective


Imagine, sitting in a courtroom, defending a tree in a rainforest about to be beheaded and thereby potentially disturbing a delicate balance that has been developed throughout the last 3.8 billion years. How would you favour the ruling? Imagine if we knew nature rights as we know human rights. Today, there are only human rights. What if we extended principles of justice, participation, involvement and inclusion so vital to our human race to all other species that work to keep us all in balance on a thriving planet? That is what embracing a planetary perspective entails.

This is how we work with biodiversity

  • We represent all human and non-human species when we make decisions that concern the place we live in
  • We use the means of art, architecture and design to ensure that spaces have an aesthetic quality that enables all species present to live and flourish
  • We ensure a holistic perspective, where the individual well-being can only be measured in relation to the collective well-being.


The Desire design principles - dialogue tools.

We give agency to all actors


Imagine standing in a big choir listening to all the voices together, leaning into the collective movement of the group and then noticing your own voice. When all the voices come together you feel uplifted, like the voices are carrying you off the ground and giving you the courage to sing louder and more confidently. Imagine the breeze of a collective voice surrounding you, making you feel that you are not alone. Imagine that this is the feeling of acting towards an irresistible circular society. You have a voice, but you are not alone, you are part of a movement.

This is how we work with movement

  • We empower everyone to feel that they can join the DESIRE movement by creating democratic access to the means and outcomes of our activities
  • We work with transparency and make visible all of the invisible actors, factors and structures that affect and bring about urban development
  • We work for a sense of collective responsibility by exploring collaborative forms of governance that can support collective management of shared urban assets.


The Desire design principles - dialogue tools.

We expand the concept of aesthetics


Imagine running your fingers down the wall of the building you live in. It is all warm from the sun. You feel its comforting embrace. Imagine wanting to hug the building, leaning into its soft curves and inviting colors. You feel drawn to it. Connected to it. You catch your own reflection in the window. Instead of see-ing a body shape, you see curves of a mountain landscape you once drove through. You see fingerprints in the wood veins of the window frame. You suddenly hear the sounds of the forest your grandmother used to take you to as a child. You see yourself caressing the wood of the window frame and it makes you smile. You live in the materials of the building and they live within you. Imagine that this is what aesthetics is. It is a sensory experience that brings forth images, emotion and reflections of ourselves that we want to lean into.

This is how we work with aesthetics

  • We work with the disciplines of art, architecture and design through all phases of our work process
  • We integrate aesthetics in our processes and not just in the end products
  • We expand the value of aesthetics by including sensory and tactile experiences.


The Desire design principles - dialogue tools.

Reports from the Desire project

Desire is focusing on learning. We learn through experimentation and we document what we learn. We create learning frameworks, and we define principles and tools of relevance for learning. Through these different reports, you will get access to what is happening in the ‘engine room’ of Desire – learn about how we co-create, operate, plan, develop and assess what we do.

Dive into our reports and learn more about our work. Click on "PDF" to open the reports.

Project Management Plan (revised version) - outlines the goals and objectives and organizational structure; defines responsibilities and roles of the consortium members; and specifies the general procedures and management tools. PDF

Data Management Plan - outlines the management of data created throughout the project period (organisation, storage, preservation, quality assurance and rules and procedures for sharing). PDF

Desire Manifesto – presents shared understanding of “Desire - Designing the Irresistible Circular Society” and serves as inspiration and a steering axis for the project. PDF

Set of principles and transformation questions – set of five Desire principles ready for testing at the eight demonstrator sites. PDF

Customization of the Desire principles and demonstration plans – unfolding of methods and approaches used for customizing the eight demonstration sites and their knowledge and local contexts with the Desire framework and principles. PDF

Desire Toolkit – first prototype version – details the structure and format and contains reflection on what defines a good toolbox and the tools within it. PDF

Learning and evaluation framework - detailed description of the Monitoring, Assessment and Learning Framework adopted in Desire, including its strategic and operational aims, its positioning within the project, its overall structure, functioning, and supporting tools. PDF

Digital data presentation and engagement tool – presenting Our Walk App and the datascapes and how the app has been applied in Desire. PDF

Communication & Engagement strategy (revised version) - concretises the communication and engagement strategy of Desire, tailored to different stakeholders. PDF

Exploitation strategy - supports the preparation of the extension of the results produced in Desire and allows for applying the results in new and diverse contexts. PDF

Come join us at ICL – a ‘community of irresistible practice’ supporting New European Bauhaus and the green urban transition.

Many cities around Europe have initiated projects addressing scope 1 and 2 of the greenhouse gas protocol, now preparing for the next step of dealing with scope 3, which is the indirect emission and closely linked to our behaviour as cities and citizens. To support this, we have established the Irresistible Cities Lab (ICL).

Dealing with scope 3 emissions includes working outside the traditional processes of municipalities and finding new avenues to work with citizens and regulations. If we want a viable, realistic, and desirable green transformation of our cities we need to engage, act, reflect, learn fast and be agile in our approaches and choices.

These approaches need to be efficient and operational. This dynamic approach is key in the Irresistible Cities Lab, a community open for practitioners at cross-city level in Europe.

Learn more here - and check the two-pager and contact Henriette Thuen, Leading Senior Adviser, Global Development and Sustainability | New European Bauhaus at Danish Industry,

2-pager: Get a quick overview of the Desire project
Desire will create a movement that sets new standards and develops methods for transforming urban spaces. See our 2-pager.
Read the latest
See what's happening in the world of Desire
Desire Dialogue Tools - Manifesto and Principles
We act now. Circularity, Belonging, Biodiversity, Movement and Aesthetics. Our eight sites in five countries are testing five design principles and our Desire manifesto. Have a look!
Video. Desire presents: "We act now"
Our mutual global challenge is clear. We are exceeding the planetary boundaries and our planet is suffering. So, we act now by creating a movement that breaks with our traditional linear approach and traditional ways of thinking, collaborating and acting. Desire - Designing the irresistible circular society is a part of the EU initiative New European Bauhaus.
The New European Bauhaus Community
The New European Bauhaus initiative from the European Union has appointed six lighthouse demonstrators – including Desire. In addition, Craft has been established to support cities in designing and deploying Climate City Contracts based on the experience from CrAFt’s Sandbox Cities and 60 reference cities.