After quite some time…
Pietro Elisei, Urbasofia Director
We didn’t realize how much time has passed since our last communication. We kept telling ourselves at Urbasofia to prepare the next newsletter and we didn’t realize that almost two years have passed since our last message to you. It’s time to tell you again something about our planning stories. Meanwhile, we hope you are pleased to receive our Urbasofia newsletter again and do not feel sorry for our long silence. We are all still here, a little more mature, but still attacking with the same passion all those problems that prevent us from achieving a sustainable, democratic and shared development of our cities. We reinforced in this time our role both in the fields of applied research, thanks to the rising engagement of our company in the H2020 programme and in our classic domains of expertise: strategic planning and urban-territorial policies, projects design. I don’t want to bore you much with my considerations, but to make our projects talk. They are the integrated messengers of our daily commitment to development, as examples:
The Rock Project (H2020) focuses on historic city centres as extraordinary laboratories to demonstrate how Cultural Heritage [CH] can be a unique and powerful engine of regeneration, sustainable development and economic growth for the whole city. This process is accompanied by use of innovative technologies available for city partners in a virtual market providing real links to industry and innovative products and services.
The Progireg Project (H2020) links urban renewal and development to the implementation of Nature Based Solutions (NBS). Green infrastructure and NBS can play a role and bring green elements into everyday urban living and change the way of planning and designing the contemporary city.
The Attractive Danube (Interreg Danube Project) is concluding its activities, the platform is online and two books have been issued, an international seminar has been held in Bucuresti.
Moreover, Urbasofia has been even very active in designing innovative content and shaping cities partnership to respond to call launched by the EC programmes UIA and URBACT. Only one last thought, we are comforted by the fact that there is a great desire of/for Europe, from the fact that the dangers and fears flagged by the intolerant political forces, the mental closure and the politics/policies that lead to isolation and not to sharing did not get enough space in the last continental elections. The new idea of Europe seems to be promising, but there is a lot to work to do, especially along our Danube. Urbasofia continues to focus on sustainable, integrated and community-based development. Join us, ask us about our projects, contact us if you have ideas that we can develop together.
Dear URBASOFIA friends,
We have gone a long way in the last 5 years. Keeping with our 6-months update pace, we now present to you our 3rd edition newsletter: a supple overview of all things interesting which Urbasofia has been at the helm for. We hope that you enjoy the time for reading what’s new in our daily work, because we would like to involve you more and more in what we design and manage as a primary way to improve the added value of our services and products. In the spirit of URBASOFIA, the necessary competitive attitude characterizing our company achieves highest effectiveness in the moment in which is capable to build cooperation with partners, clients, collaborators sharing our values and our vision.
We are a Romanian company looking at European values, expressly in planning, but in these difficult times as never before, we have experienced that it is problematic to interpret and direct them towards practical outputs.
In this period, fragmentation more than integration seems to lead political and technical choices. Too often, initiatives and urban policies inspired by the European Union and based its concrete experience of last 30 years, have declined and witnessed implementation in a superficial manner – and not only in Romania.
With more emphasis on the new member countries, especially in Eastern Europe, institutions are promoting simple solutions, avoiding to make a concrete effort to improve the territorial governance schemes: the important choices are always postponed. Centralistic attitudes are still evident, and courageous institutional change favoring a complex governance and giving more room to local levels is neglected. Weak policies, or too simplistic attitudes, determine the set of problems we encounter in these days all over Europe, a Europe that is slowly showing us back nightmares from which we wanted to escape thanks to the construction of common policies, through the edification of the European citizenship.
More than ever before we, as urban planners, have to be active in proposing concrete and effective solutions for strengthening the many values embedded in our common European experience and to exploit all new opportunities (Internet of places technologies, alternative uses of public and private spaces, nature-based solution to shape innovative policies, participatory planning approaches and so on); it is our role to contribute to improve the qualities, and provide those solutions, making people fully living their citizenship.
Consequently, we have to insist in promoting, through our daily work, the territorial cohesion. To fight, through use of innovative and effective methodologies, the disparities present at the different territorial scales: from the neighborhood to the macro-regions. To promote ways to concretize the “integrated territorial approach”, making it easier for public institutions to understand the value of integrating effort in promoting and sustaining the urban transformations, both in terms of regeneration and development.
Planning the contemporary city and finding the proper solutions for regional and territorial development requires comprehensive methods and a multi-disciplinary approach. The genie that comes out from the lamp exists only in fairy tales, effective and sustainable solutions are result of urban dialogue based on multi-actor mobilization… and a lot of work to define and accomplish the set objectives. It is not a question of pointing to a specific topic, to follow slogans or to employ gurus: It is time to go back to cooperate and to strive toward ambitious, but credible, development goals in towns and cities.
The URBASOFIA mid-summer newsletter, as usual, summarizes the main relevant activities of the first part of the year. We continue to put all our creativity in what we propose and we do, the current political and governance context, both European and Romanian, is not in favour of having a “pensiero positivo” (optimistic attitude). Despite a not favourable context, we cannot change our nature and continue to propose, with the due enthusiasm, ideas and projects for sustainable, concrete and coherent development. This issue is evidencing:
- the importance of the “local dimension” and the strength of “organized, active and “content based” citizenship (special thanks to Daniela Ciaffi for contributing to our NL);
- the importance of heritage (cultural, natural…) in driving process of urban regeneration (the new ROCK Project (H2020, www. Rockproject.eu) is a great stage for Urbasofia and a great opportunity to design and propose an implementation methodology for very important cities (Cluj, Eindhoven, Liverpool…).
- Finally, our relevant effort in the Danube Macro-Region and its development strategy, one project running on territorial competitiveness, attractiveness (ATTRACTIVE DANUBE) two proposals delivered (AGORA, on social innovative instruments for local development, and ISTER, again cultural heritage as driver for integrated development based on local partnerships and dialogue).
More details in the editorial, this time prepared by Miruna Draghia.
As you see, our answer to the many political uncertainties and to the inertia created by infinite and useless control, formal procedures and delays of public bodies, is made of ideas and “profound engagement” towards promoting/shaping occasions and contexts for improving the quality of our territory.
Basically and simply, improving our quality of life and the capability of our Romanian, European cities to be competitive.
Many other inputs are in this NL, please, enjoy the reading and send us your feedback, we need it!
Thank you for being interested in what we design!
Editorial by Miruna Drăghia
URBASOFIA has visibly grown during the last years and it is a great opportunity to be part of this phenomenon. It is a stimulating and creative environment which motivates and encourages young planners to take one step forward into professional life. Vast international expertise, past experiences and fresh ideas are capitalising within our newest on-going projects: ROCK (Regeneration and Optimisation of Cultural heritage in creative and Knowledge cities, financed through H2020 Programme) and ATTRACTIVE DANUBE (Strengthening Capacities to Enhance Territorial Attractiveness of the Danube Region, financed under the 1st call of Danube Transnational Programme).
2017 started highly promising for us, as we have been very active in writing proposals and we successfully managed to deliver one proposal under UIA call: CENTAUR (Circular Economy Led Territorial and Urban Regeneration) and two proposals under Danube Transnational Programme, 2nd call: AGORA (Advancing innovative coGeneration Options for Revitalising local Areas) and ISTER (ConnectIng hiSTorical Danube rEgions Roman routes).
In the time of an invisible crisis regarding the future of the European Union (according to the White Paper released by the European Commission during the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome), as well as the growing number of common challenges shared by European cities, there is an emergent need for cities to collaborate and exchange practices, instruments and knowledge. As a consequence, the necessity for a powerful territorial governance (both multi-actor and multi-level) has become self-evident. In this context, URBASOFIA is delighted to offer its expertise and to bring its experiences in bridging the gap between key actors in urban and territorial planning all over Europe. Endorsed by high-level expertise and supported by a well-founded network of partners and collaborators, URBASOFIA is struggling to set the basis for an innovative approach towards strategic planning and policy-making in Romania, acting actively also in the European market.
Led by pressing urban and territorial issues and guided by our latest successful results, it is in our greatest ambition to take URBASOFIA even one step forward and establish a dynamic and contemporary network of cities, regions and key actors based on an inter-change dialogue and trans-scale cooperation.
I would like to invite you all to take a look at our latest project, events and collaborations!
Urban Planner @URBASOFIA