Christmas Editorial

Dear Urbasofiers,

As much as I would abstain from writing this editorial, I cannot escape my duty, as the end-of-year communication is up to me. Being the director of URBASOFIA is a source of great satisfactions, above all linked to the ability, to the great humanity and to the creativity of all the collaborators, external and internal.

There are also many satisfactions from our high-level partners, with great ambitions, with which we sketch grand and concrete development paths related to the themes of urban planning and territorial development, with great enthusiasm.

I would like to reserve the same words to our customers, cities, public administrations, political interest groups with whom we daily interlace dialogues and suggest solutions through our work as policy designers, strategic planners, but I cannot do that.

Even if I love to see the glass half full, this time I cannot be so happy with them. I cannot shut my eyes for not seeing the lack of professionalism within the public administration, the inability to structure professional work groups, the incapacity of managers to give one single winning idea, the paucity of politicians who are not able to propose and believe in medium or long term development or providing a vision, showing a possible way to go.

In Romania we grow, but we do not develop. We follow the models, but we do not contextualize them to our problems, we do not exploit them to improve our way of being and living: we are not smart!

We fail to develop a complex system for territorial governance , we are not capable to delegate and allocate the right skills in their suitable places, and slowly we go back, because, after all, to live in a system that satisfies everyone, nobody takes risks and responsibilities and we get used to cohabit with “low competitiveness” development models, an usual quality of life, or rather mediocre, following resigned the philosophy of: merge și așa!

The coming year will be better, as Lucio Dalla sang: il nuovo anno porterà una trasformazione e tutti quanti stiamo già aspettando.

Hopefully, it is a true transformation, that helps us to live the opportunities of contemporary life, completely, and that does not bring us back to modern utopias having a stale taste, and that do not have the real salt of life: The courage, the hope!

The hope of continuing to design, experiment and risk in 2018 for the new, for the unprecedented.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all the Urbasofiers!

Pietro Elisei
URBASOFIA director
December 2017

URBASOFIA Director Dr. Pietro Elisei, recipient of the Cup of Integrity, Good Governance and Social Responsibility

URBASOFIA is proud to report that our Director, Dr. Pietro Elisei, received the „Cup of Integrity, Good Governance and Social Responsibility”, which rewarded his entire activities to date as an urban planner, scientist and manager of major complex projects, including those in favor of capitalizing on cultural and historical heritage and supporting urban innovation in Romania.

Within a remarkable event held at the Cotroceni National Museum on the 8th of December 2017, which marked the 20th Anniversary of EUROLINK – House of Europe, the ceremony was precluded by a debate on “The relationship between good governance and Smart City in terms of transposing the EU Strategy for the Danube Region”. The debate has raised real, pressing problems for Romania, but also solutions to the challenge of responsible and intelligent governance of our cities.

The awarding ceremony took place in the presence of prestigious personalities from the country and abroad, the diplomatic corps and the accredited mass media, and was organized by EUROLINK – House of Europe in partnership with the kind support of the Cotroceni National Museum. The other winners of the Gala have been: Elena-Simina TĂNĂSESCU – The Presidency of Romania; Liviu Sebastian JICMAN – Cotroceni National Museum / former Vice-President of ICR; Sorana BACIU – former Secretary of State – Ministry of Economy; Marilen PIRTEA – Rector of the West University of Timisoara; Claudiu VRÎNCEANU – Romanian Business Leaders; Peter LANGER – Chief Commissioner of the Danube Region – CoDCR; Vlad ALEXANDRESCU – former Ambassador / University Professor; Dumitru BORŢUN – University professor; Cristian UNTEANU – Press Correspondent; Sinteza Magazine; Agerpres.

We wish EUROLINK – House of Europe at least as many future years of accomplishments, and congratulate them on the great representation work carried out in support of our country within the EUSDR, on the efforts of supporting Romania’s accession to the OECD and the country’s commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals.

ROCK – Regeneration and Optimisation of Cultural Heritage in creative and Knowledge cities


Project website


After a successful kick-off in June 2017, ROCK project has continued the implementation at the same standard. In this context, URBASOFIA, as leader of task 2.5 – Implementation of Role Model Cities initiatives, has started an on-site support visits tour in the cities of: Vilnius, Eindhoven, Liverpool, Turin, Cluj-Napoca, Athens and Lyon.

A short communication on what we discovered during the visits and the fruitful discussion we had in the 7cities:

URBASOFIA has attended the first on-site support visit in Vilnius for ROCK project. Pietro Elisei and Miruna Drăghia are preparing for delivering a tailor-made methodology for the implementation phase of Role Model Cities initiatives.

On October the 24th, URBASOFIA has attended the 2nd on-site support visit for the ROCK project in Eindhoven, where URBASOFIA experts met representatives from the Municipality of Eindhoven (Marianne Willemsen and Sandra de Bres) and TU Eindhoven (represented by Gamze Dane). The meeting has been held at the Strijp-S Urban Regeneration Office. Alwin Beernink, director of the office, illustrated the on-going strategy for the regeneration of this particular area, a vivid expression of the material and immaterial heritage of Philips. A heritage of creativity and innovative products that influenced the way of living at a global scale. The first part of the meeting was focused on how to best set up a methodology for further implementation and how to contextualize the contribution of ROCK technological partners, being followed by a site visit. During the site visit, the already running “smart projects” in the Strijp S area have been tested by URBASOFIA team. One of the most important considerations of the meeting highlights the fact the principles of thinking services first and afterwards collecting necessary data to design and operationalise them, in order to avoid collecting data for no purpose. Small scale and effective smart solutions running in Strijp S make this neighbourhood one of the few cases in Europe really experimenting the change that will characterize our European cities in the next years: a real on-going best practice.

URBASOFIA has attended the 3rd on-site support visit (task 2.5) for ROCK project on the 26th of October in Liverpool, a city full of tangible and intangible cultural heritage remains. URBASOFIA experts (Miruna Drăghia and Pietro Elisei) were welcomed by representatives from Liverpool City Council (Lesley Woodbridge, Jen Caine, Claire Perry and Lisa Houghton) and St George’s Hall Manager – Alan Smith, one of the most captivating storytellers. The meeting was held at Liverpool City Council, where urban regeneration, culture and financial departments meet. The building itself was a good illustration of the cultural-led regeneration process in the World Heritage Site (WHS) of Liverpool. Not only cultural heritage buildings were the main aspect discussed during the meeting, but also the use of innovative technologies to increase the visibility and understanding of the cultural heritage through digital means of interpretation.

URBASOFIA team (Sabina Leopa and Miruna Drăghia) has attended a 2-day on-site support visit (task 2.5) and SC Meeting in Turin for ROCK project, during 9th – 11th of October, being welcomed by representatives from Commune di Torino (Erica Albarello) and Urban Centre Metropolitano Torino (Chiara Luchinni) and interacted with local stakeholders. During the visit, the city of Turin revealed its huge potential to accelerate a cultural-led regeneration process in the functional periphery of Barriera di Milano neighbourhood, an underused area full of contrasts, though very active. The use of new technologies to monitor and measure crowd flow (LBASense sensors) within certain points of the city will complement a database collection of public assets, aimed at providing the proper framework for a better understanding of how creative industries could diffuse from the city centre to surrounding neighbourhoods.

On the 17th of November, URBASOFIA team has attended the 5th on-site support visit (task 2.5) for ROCK project ( in Cluj-Napoca, a city distinguished by a progressive cultural-driven growth, supported by innovation, ICT and creative industries. Pietro Elisei, Miruna Drăghia and Sabina Leopa were warmly welcomed by Municipality representatives (Ovidiu Cîmpean, Dalila Criștiu, Mihaela Boc, Florin Morosanu, Ioan Bogdan) and ARIES (Asociația Română pentru Industria Electronică și Software – Oana Rujan). The meeting was aimed at establishing the framework for monitoring and measuring tools provided by DFRC, partner of ROCK project (LBA Sense – Large Crowd monitoring tool), which analyses anonymous data and provides real-time insights on activity and mobility patterns), leading to a comprehensive reading of the crowd’s nature and flow patterns during large-scale cultural events and festivals. The city of Cluj-Napoca will benefit from innovative technologies for a better understanding of users’ behaviour, aimed at providing a tailor-made offer within the cultural heritage and tourism sectors.

URBASOFIA has attended the 6th on-site support visit (task 2.5) for ROCK project on November the 21st, in Athens, a city endorsed by a rich presence of the past times, materialised into ancient cultural heritage remains. Despite the impressive testimony of the antique glory of Athens, the city has even more to offer – a modern atmosphere, dominated by a mix of ethnicities and cultures, embracing the tangible and intangible heritage from historical times. The meeting was held at Serafio Athletic and Cultural Centre, a recently renovated public building, where URBASOFIA experts (Pietro Elisei and Miruna Drăghia) were welcomed by Athens ROCK-team (Katerina Gkoutziouli, George Stefas, Sophia Handaka, Maria Felidou and Amalia Zepou – Vice Mayor for civil society and innovation). The discussion was focused on culture as a means for urban regeneration, while providing the proper framework and environment to facilitate social inclusion and cohesion through enhanced cultural heritage accessibility (physical, economic, social and emotional).

Last but not least, URBASOFIA has attended the 7thon-site support visit task 2.5) for ROCK project, during 6th and 8th of December, in Lyon, which was overlapped with the amazing event of Lights Festival (, which presented a variety of different artistic light up buildings and public spaces all over the city . The city of Lyon has a vast experience in cultural-led planning, especially after adopting a management plan for the historic centre which was entitled as World Heritage Site with an Outstanding Universal Value, aimed at conciliating between the Historic City and the Project City. The meeting was aimed at establishing the framework for the implementation task in ROCK project, which focuses on the up-scaling local initiatives in Role Model Cities. The city of Lyon foresees to upgrade the Heritage Observatory (which is only based on quantitative and location-based indicators, for now) with a qualitative dimension of indicators, aimed at monitoring and assessing heritage-related policies to support decision-making processes.

Stay tuned for more information on and on our website!


ATTRACTIVE DANUBE: towards an integrated analysis and monitoring framework for territorial attractiveness in the EUSDR and Romania

Through the ATTRACTIVE DANUBE project, we are continuing our work to identify, within a multi-stakeholder group, the most relevant indicators at regional, county and local scale, which can be used to analyze and monitor Territorial Attractiveness in the context of the EUSDR.

The second national Romanian „ATTRACTIVE DANUBE” workshop was organized by URBASOFIA on October 18th 2017, in Brașov, with the support of the Brasov Metropolitan Agency, Brasov City Hall and the CLUSTERO Association. The meeting was part of a suite of three such workshops under the ATTRACTIVE DANUBE project, aimed at jointly identifying national-specific sets of indicators to be integrated in a web-based platform, freely accessible for any stakholders interested, called National Territorial Attractiveness Monitoring Platform (N-TAMP). The first working meeting took place on 29 June 2017 in Bucharest and was organized at the Romanian Register of Urban Planners, aiming to open the dialogue with professionals, institutions and the central administrative level. Following this discussion, the meeting on 18 October was organized in order to bring the discussion closer to local problems, solutions and specificities, but also regional-specific traits in Romania.

The 5-hour meeting was productive – many important local needs and specific territorial traits at regional and national level have been analyzed, and the participants identified and ranked based on importance a first set of territorial attractiveness indicator categories. These indicators will complement the 22 general ATTRACT-SEE indicators previously developed, on which the ATTRACTIVE DANUBE project relies. More information on the workshop and full minutes are available HERE.

In February 2018, we will organize the third National Workshop, and also present the N-TAMP platform for the first time to the users and stakeholders.

If you wish to take part in this initiative, to participate in the 3rd Workshop or the working group on National Attractiveness Indicators, please contact us!


Lately, REFILL Cluj has focused on defining the main aspects of the Integrated Action Plan for the city of Cluj-Napoca, which were also presented during the Transnational Meeting from Ostrava, held in September. In parallel, some local meetings were organised in order to define the strategic approach for temporary use of vacant spaces in Cluj-Napoca.

In addition, an urban exploratory walk was organised in the pilot area of the project: Railway station neighbourhood, Feroviarilor Park and Someș riverbanks (facebook link here).


sub>urban – Reinventing the Fringe





Recently, URBASOFIA team participated in a 2,5-day Field Trip to Marseille (France), together with the city of Baia Mare, aimed at providing insights into the local challenges and solutions regarding the urban renewal processes. City of Dusseldorf and the Metropolitan area were joining the trip as well. The aim of the trip was to go deeper into the certain topic of urban renovation and renewal which the cities share. During this meeting, the relevant experts on the topic were invited.

During the Field Trip, we have visit urban rehabilitation projects of the City of Marseille (being guided by Marseille Rénovation Urbaine), paying special attention to three different neighbourhoods:

BoostINNO – Boosting Social Innovation



In the period October – December 2017, there were organized three local activities in Baia Mare within the BoostINNO Urbact III project:

  • Picture/panel of the district aimed to encourage citizens to identify both the problems they face in neighbourhoods and to find viable solutions to them.
  • Two Boostino Talks events (18th of October and 20th of November) to promote social innovation concepts, examples of best practices, methods and means of active participation and involvement in community life. During these events, the main topic was social innovation through IT&C, a presentation held by a local keynote speaker – Sorin Pop.
  • Open ULG Forum (7th of December) aimed to discuss the results of BoostINNO activities and to define the main strategic elements, the pilot area for the Integrated Action Plan.

proGIreg – productive Green Infrastructure for post-industrial urban regeneration

Our latest proposal for the Horizon 2020 Programme has been approved, and is currently in the Grant Preparation stage!

Alongside 34 other partners, among which four front-runner cities (Dortmund (DE); Turin (IT); Zagreb (HR); Ningbo (CN)), we will work for the next five years establishing Living Labs in urban areas which face the challenge of post-industrial regeneration.

The proGIreg Living Labs will develop NBS (nature-based solutions), which are citizen-owned and co-developed by state, market and civil society stakeholders. Five follower cities in Eastern and Southern Europe (Cascais PT, Cluj-Napoca RO, Piraeus GR, Sofia BG, Zenica BA) will be co-steering the research process to assure replicability and adaptability to their local context resulting in urban plans for NBS deployment. The NBS to be tested i.a. include: regenerating industrial soils biotic compounds, creating community-based urban agriculture and aquaponics and making renatured river corridors accessible for local residents.

URBASOFIA will be leading the Spatial Analysis in front-runner and follower cities, guiding them in transposing socio-cultural inclusiveness, human health and well-being, ecological and environmental restoration and economic and labour market assessment domains at spatial-urban level. We will also assist Follower Cities in creating locally adapted urban plans for the implementation of innovative NBS.

The EU Research and Innovation policy agenda on Nature-Based Solutions and Re-Naturing Cities aims to position the EU as leader in ‘Innovating with nature’ for more sustainable and resilient societies – and proGIreg is leading this ambition, as one of the first Innovation Actions implementing the EU R&I agenda on NBS.

URBASOFIA is consequently very happy to take part in this initiative and to contribute its European knowledge on Urban and Regional planning towards implementing Living Labs in the EU’s most innovative cities!


ATTRACTIVE DANUBE: 2nd National Workshop in Brașov, Romania

The second national Romanian „ATTRACTIVE DANUBE” workshop was organized by URBASOFIA on October 18th 2017, in Brașov, with the support of the Brasov Metropolitan Agency, Brasov City Hall and the CLUSTERO Association. The meeting was part of a suite of three such workshops under the ATTRACTIVE DANUBE project, aimed at jointly identifying the national-specific sets of indicators that can be used to monitor and assess attractiveness at different territorial levels. The first working meeting took place on 29 June 2017 in Bucharest and was organized at the Romanian Register of Urban Planners, aiming to open the dialogue with professionals, institutions and the central administrative level. Following this discussion, the meeting on 18 October was organized in order to bring the discussion closer to local problems, solutions and specificities, but also regional-specific traits in Romania.



With 30 participants from the public administration (Regional Agency for the Center Region, Brașov County Council, Brașov Metropolitan Agency, Municipalities of Brașov, Codlea, Săcele, the City of Râșnov, Vulcan Commune), Local Action Groups (LAG Ținutul Bârsei), Clusters and incubators (Technology and Innovation Cluster, Green Energy Cluster, the Association of Romanian Incubators and Business Centers, CLUSTERO) as well as professional associations (Romanian Architects’ Union, Romanian Scientists’ Academy), the meeting was a success – both in what concerns reaching to the root of many national/regional development barriers as well as addressing potential ways to assess, change and monitor these problems.

The meeting aimed at generating an open discussion on the following three topics:

  1. Key territorial capital components in Romania and modalities of quantification: What are the national and regional specifics in our country?
  2. Data, indicators and information: What are the needs (data, indicators, capacity, platforms) in the territorial planning process?
  3. Can a specific set of indicators for territorial attractiveness (available and concrete), be identified, and can that be an operational tool for measuring and monitoring the Romanian territorial attractiveness in the context of the Danube Region?

The 5-hour meeting was productive – many important local needs and specific territorial traits at regional and national level have been analyzed, and the participants identified and ranked based on importance a first set of territorial attractiveness indicator categories. These indicators will complement the 22 general ATTRACT-SEE indicators previously developed, on which the ATTRACTIVE DANUBE project relies.

We would like to thank all participants for their active involvement and their input! In February 2018, the third workshop at the national level will be organized, and we will announce its location soon. But until then, this is our to-do list:

  1. Expanding the working group at Romanian level with the relevant actors / institutions involved in substantiating and elaborating Romania’s planning and territorial development policies, and informing them about the Attractive Danube Project;
  2. Drafting the extensive list of attractiveness indicators, which will be shared with the participants and other relevant stakeholders at central, regional and local level in Romania, in order to gather  additions / positions and to continue the dialogue in the preparation of the third workshop.

Stay tuned and follow ATTRACTIVE DANUBE on: Facebook | Twitter | DTP Website