For 5 years we have been shaping the future of cities together

The year 2022 was one of learning and from which we came out with a lot of satisfaction for the work done in shaping the cities in Romania. We organized Urban Talks events, launched guides and books, carried out pilot projects that innovated and continued to publish articles. We have been Educating, Connecting and Inspiring for 5 years to transform Romanian cities and activate urban communities. We invite you to go through with us in this article some of the successes we are proud of.

The first guide launched in 2022 concerns How to build a community, which are the ingredients of a healthy community and proposes 10 ideas and principles to guide us in our cities and neighborhoods. Romania has a deficit in the chapter of trust granted to the other members of the community, mostly due to some old sequels related to the displacement from the village to the city and the shadow of the secret police in everyone’s homes. For this reason we have come up with pragmatic and applicable solutions at any level, from apartment buildings to creating a local community.

In March, we completed the Proximity project dedicated to the city of Lugoj, through which we created the first Urban General Plan theme developed through participatory processes in Romania. The local community was involved in the selection of spaces that require immediate interventions, after which architecture and urban planning students were challenged in an ideas competition to design solutions for the identified spaces in Lugoj. Through meetings, debates and public exhibitions, the declared winning ideas were selected and will be included when the General Urban Plan of Lugoj Municipality is updated.

In the spring, Grațian Mihăilescu launched the book How to shape cities in Romania where he collected interdisciplinary expertise related to the future of urban communities. The book traces the development trajectory of the urban communities in Romania to date and talks extensively about why the clear vision of a city’s development must be seriously thought about and followed closely when projects are outlined.

In May, during the UrbanTalks Oradea edition, we launched the Romanian City 4.0 book, through which we bring forward the development trends of cities around the globe, emphasize the innovative and creative capacity of urban communities in Romania and intuit how Romanian cities will look in the year 2050.

Our colleagues, Grațian Mihăilescu and Mihai Ioniță, participated in June in two international events focused on sustainable development. Grațian spoke at Urban Future 2022 about the UrbanizeHub projects through which we involve citizens in the co-design of the city and Mihai told at the New European Bauhaus Festival how he managed to coagulate the pupils’ energies in a participative urban mobility exercise.

Also in June we talked about one of our close to heart projects. UrbanizeHub was the initiator of the Line Project together with the City Hall of Sector 6, the largest co-design project of a linear park so far in Romania. The park will be developed in Sector 6 based on the wishes and needs of the residents of the area. The initiative was appreciated both nationally, receiving the Cities of Tomorrow award, and internationally with a dedicated panel at the Smart City Expo World Congress where mayor Ciprian Ciucu was present.

In June, we started the “Innovative Solutions for Green Cities” project, funded by POCA, in which we support the cities of Arad, Lugoj, Reșita and Timișoara to become more sustainable and comply with European principles regarding climate neutrality. As part of the project, questionnaires were organized and four workshops were held with representatives from local administrations and NGO leaders, with the aim of developing four city maps and four action plans for each urban community. Next steps include gathering feedback from the citizens of the four cities on their wants and needs related to the green transition.

From August to September, a part of the UrbanizeHub team went on the European tour as part of the Functional Areas in the European Union project, developed by the World Bank for the European Commission. Grațian, Bogdan and Flavius started from the Caraş-Timiș area towards Oradea, Cluj and then towards Krakow, Trencin, Brno, Kaliskz-Ostrowska, Balaton, Zagreb, Fierbinți-Târg and Athens. Also within the project, we talked about the Valea Jiului Conurbation and how three counties affected by the transition can reinvent themselves. Examples of good practices and curiosities about what makes these functional areas professional were presented in the articles published on our website.

Grațian Mihăilescu was invited to speak on the TEDx Baia Mare stage about how people can transform the city they live in. On this occasion, the founder of UrbanizeHub talked about the projects we are proud of and why it is important to see the city as the home of our home.

The Green Cities Forum (FOV) is the largest event in Romania dedicated to environmental sustainability. UrbanizeHub participated through Mihai’s presence at the event, where he spoke about engagement with citizens and why it is important for future projects to start from the bottom up.

APEL (Activation and Planning for Local Efficiency) Colentina-Tei is one of our 2022 projects through which we achieve both urban regeneration and earthquake risk management. Samuel Stancu together with the team and the World Bank designed a guide for the Sector 2 City Hall that combines the principles of urban regeneration, participatory urbanism and seismic risk management.

We recently celebrated the anniversary of the first 5 years of UrbanizeHub in Romania through an UrbanTalks edition held in Bucharest. We brought together experts, administration leaders, successful entrepreneurs and UHub friends, launched three papers and discussed how we can get involved in the development of Romanian cities in the next 5 years.

On the occasion of the anniversary, we have prepared 5 volumes that bring together 100 of the most read and appreciated articles published on our website. Each volume has a theme: Community, Green Cities, Cities of the Future, Urban Policies and Governance and Projects and Cities. These are available for free on our website.

UrbanizeHub and Digital Policy have jointly created the Smart City Manifesto guide that supports public administrations and urban leaders to implement EU-funded projects. By reading this manifesto you will learn what a smart city means, which projects can be financed and how to find out if they are eligible. The work started from the expertise part of 12 experts who talked about the vision for a smart city, how collaboration and governance processes work, what are the challenges in project implementation and how they can be overcome, and what sustainability means for urban communities.

The story of the UCaB Humanitarian Rally, in which Grațian Mihăilescu, Mihai Lupu and Cosmin Savu set off from Bucharest to Freetown with equipment to equip four community hubs in Senegal and Sierra Leone and at the end of which they donated the rally car to those who had greater her need can be watched in the material for Romania, I love you!

These are our achievements in 2022. In the anniversary edition of UrbanTalks we talked about our plans for the 5-year follow-up and what we expect from the UrbanizeHub project. UrbanizeHub isn’t just about our team pushing to make things happen, it’s about the community of passionate people who join us on this journey to shape the future of cities together, and for that we want to thank you for joining us.

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