ROCK at Placemaking week in Valencia, session facilitated by Urbasofia&Eurocities

In June 2019, ROCK project has been part of the European Placemaking week in Valencia (, with a dedicated workshop entitled Heritage building stronger communities. Throughout the session, we emphasized the instrumental value of cultural heritage as a placemaking tool in different urban settings, focused on four main aspects:

  • Sociability and liveability of a place (through participatory approaches for social inclusion);
  • Vibrant uses & activities (experimented through sustainable adaptive reuse of CH);
  • Increased Accessibility & linkages (exploring both physical/ non-physical accessibility of CH) and
  • Comfort & image (connected with safety, security, but also branding and CH promotion).

Since ROCK cities assume that cultural heritage is used as a tool to experiment with collaborative models of urban development, the mixture between placemaking approaches and cultural heritage is a great way to create a sense of place for communities to enjoy, preserve and take ownership of cultural heritage in their neighbourhoods. As such, reusing and adapting the cultural heritage with the help of a community strengthens the sense of belonging by positively linking  the city’s past to its future, and offering robust infrastructure to the needs of citizens. The basic principles of placemaking can be applied to historic areas and buildings, and the three Replicator Cities from ROCK project are already experimenting with innovative approaches to do so:

  • Bologna with the transformation of the Zamboni area into an open experimentation lab;
  • Lisbon with the Interpretive Centre of Marvila and
  • the Old Bazaar of Skopje with the newly set Skopje Urban Living Lab.

The Guiding Questions behind the exploratory workshop were:

  • What is the role of placemaking in the adaptive reuse of CH structures and areas?
  • How to measure the success of a placemaking intervention into a cultural heritage area?
  • How to make sure heritage led urban regeneration does not create negative side effects (i.e. gentrification, negative social impacts, disrupted sense of place)?
  • Can an open and participative storytelling process make an impact on the physical urban development?

The presentation included also a part dedicated to Cultural Heritage as a driver for branding the contemporary city, showcasing some ROCK cities examples from the branding toolkit, which is available online at:

CH and Place-Making linkages

Insight from the case studies presented in ROCK Branding Toolkit

For more information, follow us on:

ROCK website, Twitter page and

YouTube channel

ROCK Project: latest updates

ROCK project ( is not simply a H2020-funded project under research and innovation, but it sets a ground-breaking framework for approaching Cultural Heritage in the contemporary society, taking into account its fast-changing needs and requirements, which eventually evolve into new urban challenges, but also opportunities. As a flagship project for the European Union, ROCK has given valuable input into the Partnership on Culture and Cultural Heritage, promoted by the Urban Agenda for the EU.

Since the first half of the project was oriented towards the mentoring process, which involved the transfer of knowledge and coaching from Role Model cities (Athens, Cluj-Napoca, Eindhoven, Liverpool, Lyon, Turin and Vilnius) to Replicator cities (Bologna, Lisbon and Skopje), as well as the preparation of the implementation and demonstration actions, ROCK cities are now prepared to enter the stage of experimentation with innovative tools and technologies for Cultural Heritage optimisation and regeneration. The key priorities tackled by ROCK cities count the following: resilience of cultural heritage, integration of collaborative governance models and new funding schemes, cultural heritage and environmental sustainability, as well as urban regeneration processes led by adaptive reuse of CH and creative transformation of the urban environment.

URBASOFIA’s role, beyond supporting cities in planning their actions and implementing their initiatives, lies in co-facilitating with EUROCTIES, TU/e and ICLEI, the exchange of knowledge and successful practices between ROCK cities, following a cluster approach focused on 5 key pillars:

  • Participatory approaches and social inclusion;
  • New governance models for creative, sustainable and circular cities;
  • New tools and technologies for CH accessibility and safety perception;
  • New financing and business models;
  • New approaches to green-oriented city growth.

Entering its last stage of implementation, ROCK project has already produced a set of valuable outputs related to the role of Cultural Heritage as a resource for urban development whilst valorising its social and economic dimensions. In particular, you can access a wide range of communication and dissemination products, such as:

Stay tuned for an intensive year with loads of outputs and result from ROCK cities and partners!

Follow us on: ROCK website, Twitter page and YouTube channel


„ATTRACTIVE DANUBE” Transnational Cooperation and Experience Exchange Workshop in Bucharest

As the partner representing Romania in the “ATTRACTIVE DANUBE – Improving Capacities for Enhancing Territorial Attractiveness of the Danube Region” project, URBASOFIA is delighted to announce the very successful implementation of the Transnational Co-operation Seminar for territorial attractiveness monitoring and management. The even took place on 10 May 2019 at the Radisson Blu Hotel and Congress Center in Bucharest, with the participation of our project partners in the Bulgarian Economic Forum, their local stakeholder delegation, the Project Coordinator Blaz Barboric and a very important national, regional and local stakeholders in Romania.

The scope of the event was to present and discuss future sustainability of project results at the level of Romania (URBASOFIA) and Bulgaria (Bulgarian Economic Forum), with the cooperation and participation of the key actors for the elaboration of territorial policies.

The transnational workshop was opened with a welcome from the Romanian Presidency f the EUSDR by Mr. Radu Gorincioi, Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Particularly interesting interventions and presentations have been provided by Ms. Simona Arghire and Ms. Ioana Manțog (Ministry of Regional Development and Public Administration), Mr. Blaz Barboric (Geodetic Institute of Slovenia), Mr. George Tabakov (Bulgarian Economic Forum), Mr. Doru Dragomir (Romanian-Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce), Dr. Pietro Elisei and Ms. Sabina Leopa (Urbasofia).

The participants, 45 in total, represented organizations covering a wide range of relevant actors and institutions in the process of substantiating and elaborating territorial planning and development policies in Romania, with reference to the academic and professional environment, the business environment, local authorities, central public authorities, organizations regional and professional associations. Discussions have been lively, and the feedback has been very good on the National Territorial Attractiveness Monitoring Platform (TAMP).

The next step for Attractive Danube in Romania is the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding for sustaining TAMP, and the organisation of the last capacity building seminar in Bucharest, at the end of June 2019.

Stay tuned for more information!

ATTRACTIVE DANUBE Workshop in Brasov, 7th of May 2019

The second Capacity Building Seminar within “ATTRACTIVE DANUBE  – Improving Capacities for Enhancing Territorial Attractiveness of the Danube Region” project took place on 7th of May in Brasov Municipality. As URBASOFIA held a seminar in Brasov last year, in order to select the final indicators for Romania’s territorial attractiveness, we considered that a second workshop in the same city, this time dedicated to the project’s results, will ensure the continuity of the process and will increase the cooperation with the target audience of the area.

The workshop aimed at promoting the project’s deliverables – the manual for planning policies and the platforms for monitoring the territorial attractiveness: the national one (TAMP) and the international one (CO-TAMP). It was divided into two main sections: a series of presentations on behalf of URBASOFIA held by Drd. Urb. Sabina Leopa and Dr. Pietro Elisei, and a workshop dedicated to the platforms and the manual for public policy planning, followed by an open discussion with the participants.

The event was attended by 14 representatives of the following institutions: Brașov City Hall, Hărman City Hall, Brașov Metropolitan Agency, Brașov City Council, ICEBERG, Proteus Diona, F.P.I.P., Cluster Green Energy, IJC Brașov, CINAQ Association.

The meeting ended with a series of conclusions drawn by Dr. Pietro Elisei and with informing the participants about the next steps for URBASOFIA regarding the Attractive Danube Project.


SPIRE: a Smart Post-Industrial Regenerative Ecosystem for Baia Mare

What do you do if you have around 672 hectares of (historically) heavy metal polluted land, a limited budget, and an imperative to act? You start searching for solutions. Innovative, Nature-Based Solutions.


SPIRE is the newest proposal developed by URBASOFIA in collaboration with Pietro Verga, for the Municipality of Baia Mare. It’s been delivered on January 31st 2019, under the 4th call of the Urban Innovative Actions, a flagship European initiative which provides urban areas throughout Europe with resources to develop innovative solutions (not yet tested at EU level) to the main urban challenges, and see how these work in practice and respond to the complexity of real life. For this call, SPIRE is one of just two such proposals delivered by Romania, and the only one dealing with Nature Based Solutions and Sustainable Land Use.

Read more below:

The Danube Day 2018 in Bucharest

We are pleased to inform you that the International Danube Day was celebrated in Bucharest, on the 28th of June 2018, at the HQ of the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs through a Public Consultation regarding the establishing of main Romanian priorities, initiatives and events to be proposed by the civil society for the period of Romania’s EUSDR Presidency (October 2018-October 2019).

The debate was honored by Mr. Victor NEGRESCU, Minister of European Affairs. The moderation of the reunion was ensured by the Mr. Sever AVRAM, Danube Regional Commissioner / Executive President of EUROLINK-House of Europe / CLDR Romania Association. More details of the day are available in the official CLDR Press Release. 

In the morning debate on „the stage of Romania’s preparations for taking over the annual presidency of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region – the importance of dialogue between public authorities and civil society in Romania”, Dr. Pietro Elisei was a member of the panel, as EC Expert in Urban Innovation (appointed UIA Expert).

Ms. Sabina Leopa held a short presentation on successful European projects within the Danube Area, and introduced the ATTRACTIVE DANUBE Project and its interim results. The project was met with much interest from the invitees.


Transforming post-industrial zones to green hubs: new nature-based solutions project kicks off in Aachen

A new European-funded project “Productive Green Infrastructure for Post-industrial Urban Regeneration (proGIreg)” was launched in Aachen on 12th June 2018. The cities of Dortmund (Germany), Turin (Italy) and Zagreb (Croatia) will harness the productive potential of key post-industrial areas with the involvement of local NGOs, community groups and residents.

“We are planning to reconstruct a former meat processing plant to create a new centre in the Sesvete area,” said Matija Vuger, Head of Section for International and Regional Projects, City of Zagreb. “The nature-based interventions will include urban gardens, a new cycle path, a modern business innovation hub with green walls and green roofs, and aquaponics agriculture.”

Aquaponics is a combination of fish farming and soilless plant cultivation, where fish, plants and bacteria live together in a circular system, making farming possible in areas with hostile post-industrial soil. ProGIreg aims to design a lower tech, low cost aquaponics system that is accessible and suitable for community investment, community building and community operation.

Dortmund will use the renatured Deusenberg landfill site to produce solar power and provide sports areas and creating fruit-producing forests with the local residents of Huckarde. Ultimately, the aim is to turn the isolated Huckarde borough into a green space, thereby filling in the missing link between two river sites that have already been converted into nature parks. “We would like to use the existing strengths of this urban area,” said Stefan Thabe, Department of City Planning and Building Regulations, City of Dortmund. “We would like to connect the existing potential, and we would like to improve quality of life in the urban area.”

Turin will introduce nature-based solutions including aquaponics, cycle lanes, bee-friendly areas and green roofs and walls to the post-industrial ‘Mirafiori Sud’ area and to connect local groups already working on urban agriculture. Turin will experiment with the use of ‘new soil,’ produced by combining compost and special fungi with poor-quality, but uncontaminated soil, and will introduce carbon compensation and offset schemes for private companies and large public events. Elena Deambrogio, Head of Office for Smart Cities and EU Funds at Comune di Torino said, “This project is ambitious because we have to work on different sectoral policies, including urban regeneration, social and active inclusion, environment and green planning and economic development and support to innovation.”

The three cities will work with four further cities in Eastern and Southern Europe: Cascais (Portugal), Cluj-Napoca (Romania), Piraeus (Greece) and Zenica (Bosnia and Herzegovina) to research, share and scale up the nature-based solutions tested along with 25 other organisations including coordinator Rheinsch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen (RWTH) and ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability. “We need to make politicians and decision-makers aware that nature-based solutions can be more than just for leisure activities, and that they are of crucial importance,” said Teresa Ribeiro, landscape architect at Cascais Ambiente.

“ProGIreg is the next step in bringing issues around green infrastructure, urban development and business innovation together,” said project coordinator Dr. Axel Timpe. “We are lucky to have an inspiring group of ambitious, committed and experienced cities on the proGIreg team, and together we will show the productive potential of green infrastructure for urban regeneration.”

A large launch event will be held in Dortmund on 25-26 September. For more information, follow the project at

ATTRACTIVE DANUBE: 4th SCOM in Sofia, Bulgaria

The fourth Steering Committee Meeting of the ATTRACTIVE DANUBE project was held in Sofia, Bulgaria, between 22-23 May 2018, and was hosted by the Bulgarian Economic Forum (BEF).

The meeting was a great opportunity to tie in the many activities which the project partners have implemented since the previous Freiburg, Germany meeting in November 2017, and to plan ahead the next Attractive Danube activities.

Attractive Danube Consortium in Sofia, Bulgaria

The two-day meeting focused on the Territorial Attractiveness Monitoring Platforms – TAMP (national and transnational), as well as aspects concerning the transversal project activities and the proceedings with developing an ambitious Handbook for Policy Planning on applying TAMP, currently in development under the coordination of Urbasofia.

The SCOM ended with a great Study Visit organized by BEF, which took place in the Sofia Business Park – a visit to the Sofia newly developing periphery, which managed to position itself as one of the fastest growing, most attractive business poles in the region.

URBASOFIA – Updated Privacy Policy

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Results of the ATTRACTIVE DANUBE 3rd National Workshop

We are pleased to share the results of the final Romanian National Workshop of the ATTRACTIVE DANUBE! The workshop was held on 27th March 2018, in Cluj-Napoca, within the old historic monument „Cluj Casino”, now the Center for Innovation and Civic Imagination.

The meeting was part of the DANUBE ATTRACTIVE process for identifying, at national level, the sets of indicators that can be used to monitor and assess attractiveness at different territorial levels. With the TAMP establishment process well underway, the third meeting was also organized regionally, in Cluj-Napoca (the second largest city in Romania), in order to bring the discussion closer to local problems, solutions and peculiarities, and regional programs in Romania, and to allow for another perspective on prioritization. Its main objectives were the following:

1) To establish the national and regional specifics in Romania and the Key Territorial Capital Components, including methods of quantification;
2) To find out the data needs of the group of actors involved in the territorial planning process;
3) To receive feedback on the long and short lists of indicators which have been compiled during and after the two previous meetings;
4) To present / demo the National Territorial Attractiveness Platform and discuss the possible uses, synergies and barriers/limitations of such a tool.

After an introduction from Mr. Ovidiu Câmpean, Director of Projects, Cluj-Napoca Municipality, a presentation by Mr. Zoltan Coraian, Director of the Metropolitan Association Cluj followed, on the topic of Capitalizing the territorial assets and attractiveness at the regional / metropolitan area of ​​Cluj-Napoca. 

On behalf of Urbasofia, Mrs. Sabina Leopa introduced the project and the TAMP: Territorial Attractiveness Monitoring Platform which has been set up through the project:

We had a total of 19 participants, among which Regional Authorities, County Councils, the Metropolitan Association Cluj, Cluj-Napoca Municipality, interest groups, academia, business and clusters. We are happy to share the fact that feedback was in general very good on the TAMP Platform, especially since it is an open platform and does not require registering. Economic attractiveness, cultural heritage and tourism were seen as key indicator domains to promote within the platform.

In closure, key stakeholders (Cluj Municipality, Cluj Metropolitan Area, Babes Bolyai University, Cluj County Council, the Region, and economy representatives invited) expressed their interest in keeping to be involved with the project and in participating to the Capacity Building sessions.

The meeting ended with a light dinner / aperitif and the receiving of participation diplomas.


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