ROCK at Changing Cities conference in Chania, Greece

In June 2019, ROCK project was presented by URBASOFIA at the Changing Cities IV Conference in Chania (, in the pre-organised Special Session  “Smart adaptation. Modernistic heritage for sustainability of the future”, chaired by Prof. Izabela Mironowicz.

The presentation was based on the article written by URBASOFIA & TU/e, entitled Cultural Heritage Adaptive Reuse for Sustainable Development pathways in Creative and Knowledge Cities, which proposes the investigation of Eindhoven case study on industrial heritage. The paper highlights the main steps for CH adaptive reuse, based on the successful case of Eindhoven, stressing on the importance of restoring the significance of original heritage in the community, ensuring its survival towards a three-fold development pathway based on: accessibility, collaboration and sustainability. In order to address the paper objectives and to highlight the complexity of the urban regeneration process of the industrial heritage, the analysis of the case study (Strijp-S area in Eindhoven) has been conducted in respect to the following criteria:

  • the approach to material heritage conservation versus transformation – referring to the legacy of the site and the adaptation to the constantly-changing needs of the society, as well as the relationship with the existing context;
  • the role of creative industries involvement – as main drivers of innovation;
  • the importance of technological enablers for the process implementation.


Throughout the presentation, Sustainable Adaptive Reuse (SAR) guidelines have been mentioned, with an emphasis on the SAR process phases:

  1. Identify, determine and select the most suitable historic place/ area with high potential for adaptive reuse;
  2. Define the baseline state-of-play for the selected area;
  3. Map the significance and value of the place throughout its historical evolution;
  4. Adopt a creative and flexible attitude in the decision-making;
  5. Create synergies and link with other initiatives, and development projects;
  6. Communicate the historical value and significance and previous uses;
  7. Define long-term integrated management strategies and plans.

Highlights from the presentation


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The final National Seminar for Attractive Danube project

The final Capacity Building Seminar, which was also our final national event within “ATTRACTIVE DANUBE – Improving Capacities for Enhancing Territorial Attractiveness of the Danube Region” project took place on 24th of June in Bucharest!

Within the event were presented the overall results of the project at national level and were analyzed further opportunities for collaboration. In order to support the project results, it was also presented and signed a Memorandum of Understanding by 14 relevant institutions, with the purpose of enhancing the sustainability and cooperation and participation of stakeholders. The seminar was divided in two sections:

  • The first section had an introductory part where Dr. Pietro Elisei has presented the overall trajectory of the project and the general results. It was followed by several topic related presentations held by representatives from relevant institutions such as the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Administration, the Association of Danubian Local Communities (CLDR), the Association of Romanian Cities, USH Pro Business and the Professional Association for Public Administration Training (CINAQ). This part was followed by a more consistent presentation on the project results held by Ms. Sabina Leopa.
  • The second part of the day was organized as a Q&A session which had two objectives: raising the awareness of TAMP/Co-TAMP functionalities and future ways to assure the sustainability of the platform. Within this section, all participants had the chance to express their opinions regarding the platform and the project in general. It culminated with the introduction and signing of the Memorandum of Understanding

The event had a total number of 25 participants coming from relevant fields for the process of elaborating urban and regional development policies in Romania, such as academia, business, local and national authorities, regional organizations and professional associations.

Participation at CCIV under ROCK project

Urbasofia will attend Changing Cities Conference in Chania this week! The main theme of the conference is SMART CITIES; smart environment, smart mobility, smart economy. The article we will present was written under the in H2020-funded project ROCK (, and it will be presented in the fourth day of the event, on 27th of June, in the pre-organised Special Session  “Smart adaptation. Modernistic heritage for sustainability of the future”, organised and chaired by Prof. Izabela Mironowicz.

Our article is entitled Cultural Heritage Adaptive Reuse for Sustainable Development pathways in Creative and Knowledge Cities, and will tackle the case study of one of the seven Role Model City (Eindhoven), involved ROCK, which proposes a collaborative and systematic approach for progressive transformation of CH in creative and knowledge cities, based on a common enabler: innovative technologies. The current investigation focuses on the assessment of technological enablers of the sustainable adaptive reuse process in the (industrial) heritage area of Strijp-S, Eindhoven, which is nowadays recognised as a smart district using smart technologies as enabler for higher quality of life (Goulden, L., 2015).


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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

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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!

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„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

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