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Healthy Inclusive Cities - Cork Social Innovators Win UNIC CityLabs Global Design Challenge Awards

29 Mar 2023
Photographer Ger McCarthy: Award Recipients Tania Zor (Shall We Dance); Maroun Tabbal (Wabi Sabi)

Two Cork social innovators receive UNIC CityLabs Award to lead international co-design team initiatives under Global Challenge for Sport & Physical Activity.

This unique award nurtures the start-up of two new innovative European partnership projects that aim to support inclusion in sport and physical activity in our cities.  Led by Cork social innovators Tania Zor and Maroun Tabbal, the award will see their international teams kickstart collaborative actions involving community and academic partners here in Cork and with other European cities.

Through the UNIC award the two engaged research and learning partnerships will design and deliver evidence informed social innovation that support more inclusive, healthy cities, with innovation supports from Cork CityLabs, UCC Engaged Research Office and IGNITE at UCC. Over the course of a year the teams will co-design pilot actions – one with a focus on dance for social inclusion and the other for technology supported citizen engagement to inform a more accessible public realm.

The first team, a partnership between Cork and Zagreb ‘Shall We Dance’ sets out to develop a community-focussed dance programme, that harnesses the power of dance for both physical and social health and wellbeing. They focus on demonstrating how dance is a way to share and express cultural heritage, identify and diversity and how it can strengthen cultural integration and diversity in the city.

The second team Wabi Sabi connects Cork with cities of Oulu Finland, and Deusto Spain. They are pioneering new approaches informing more accessible and inclusive public and recreational spaces in smart cities of the future. Bringing together leading thinking and expertise in architecture, accessibility and new technologies, they focus on how technology can support citizen-driven design in the city.

Tania Zor and Maroun Tabbal

Shall We Dance and Wabi Sabi were two of a number of submissions to the Global Design Challenge for Sport and Physical Activity which crowdsources radical, innovative ideas that enable people of all ages and abilities to lead active healthy lives. Ideas come from around the globe with best ideas incubated and/or taken up by national and global partners. At the heart of the social innovation of both teams, will be the emplyment of co-creation and co-design approaches with community and societal partners supported by UNIC CityLabs and Cork Healthy Cities.

The Global Design Challenge for Sport and Physical Activity is a global initiative that has successfully run for three years, led by University College Cork (UCC) generating ambitious, innovative ideas links and directly to a number of UN Sustainable Development Goals, as called out in the Kazan Action Plan of 2017 - particularly those relating to social impact, inclusion and equality, but also wider goals around health, education, economics, the environment and governance. The initiative also benefits from UNESCO patronage and in 2022 welcomed the inclusion of two international alliances of universities – European University of Post-Industrial Cities (UNIC) and the East London Global Sport Coalition.

Local Wabi Sabi co-design partners include Cork Centre for Architectural Education; Tyndall National Institute; Cork City Council; UCC; Cork Healthy Cities.

Local Shall We Dance co-design partners inlcude Amdie Dance; UCC; HSE Healthy Ireland Arts & Culture; Cork Healthy Cities.

Award recipients and sponsors

Photographer Ger McCarthy: L to R Aoife Ni Chonchuir, Cork Healthy Cities; Eamon Curtin, Director IGNITE; Tania Zor (Shall We Dance), Director Cali Cultural Centre; Ciara O’Halloran, UNIC CityLabs, Civic and Community Engagement UCC; Maroun Tabbal (Wabi Sabi), Cork Centre for Architectural Education Resilient Design Curricula Lead; Dr Martin Galvin, Head of Civic and Community Engagement UCC; Lara Diez, Programme Manager, Global Design Challenge 

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For more information contact Ciara O'Halloran at

UNIC European University is an alliance of 10 University and City Partners.

UNIC CityLabs bring together students, citizens, academia and city stakeholders to work collaboratively on societal challenges and to co-create more inclusive, sustainable just futures for all.

The Global Design Challenge for Sport and Physical Activity crowdsources radical, innovative ideas that enable people of all ages and abilities to lead active healthy live - created and led by Dr Fiona Chambers, Education, Sport & innovation, University College Cork (UCC).

IGNITE start-up incubation programme at UCC is a flagship incubation programme for founders working full-time on their start-up.

Civic & Community Engagement

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