Cluj-Napoca places nature first – urban regeneration through protecting and integrating green spaces
8 November 2021
Cluj-Napoca in Romania is following the progress of proGIreg pioneer cities in developing and testing nature-based solutions (NbS) in collaboration with public authorities, civil society, researchers and businesses. The city has embraced the co-design guidelines developed in the project and is in the process of creating a regeneration strategy using four nature-based solutions tested by the pioneering cities Dortmund, Turin, Ningbo and Zagreb. In October 2021, the city organised a workshop to start the planning process.
Image: Workshop brainstorming for objectives and vision of the urban regeneration project
The city plans to implement community-based urban farms and gardens, green walls and roofs, accessible green corridors and local environmental compensation processes. The planned urban regeneration area of Cluj-Napoca is characterised by an industrial railway and surrounding nature, with the Someș and Nădaș river corridors. The city plans to have a network of green infrastructure in place by 2030, stemming from the urban regeneration area, creating connections between the inner city and the nature surrounding it.
Image: Planned intervention sites
Through the co-design activities organised in the first planning workshop in Cluj-Napoca a long-term vision was established for the urban regeneration area for 2035:
- The local communities can easily access the new improved green infrastructure. The blue-green corridors are no longer considered limits or barriers but act as connectors between different functional areas, communities, and green spaces.
- The natural identity of the area is enhanced through varied plant species that are well-adapted to local conditions. Planted areas will include grass, shrubs and trees. The biodiversity of the area will be improved and key parts of Someș and Nădaș river corridors renatured.
- The green infrastructure network in the area will be well developed, creating a balance between nature and constructed elements. The infrastructure will connect the area to the surrounding nature: Hoia and Făget forest, Sugeacu-Rădaia natural area, Lower part of Someș and Valea Chintăului street green corridor.
- The area will contain a variety of community-oriented green facilities: community gardens, horticulture, parks, green corridors, therapeutic- and educational gardens. The nature-based solutions implemented will improve the attractiveness of the areas, mitigating the differences between the residential- and industrial areas, they will be tailored to serve local communities.
- The local communities within and near the urban regeneration area will have daily contact with nature, benefitting from the newly developed green infrastructure. Locals will be engaged in community activities, and planning and implementation of nature-based solutions. Local communities care about the environment and nature and interact with it in a sustainable way.
Analysis conducted in the workshop outlines actions that are needed to achieve this vision. The green corridors and local ecological networks will need improvements to allow animal mobility and enhance biodiversity to create a more resilient and sustainable landscape. Spaces will need to be landscaped to make them attractive. Community-driven re-design of existing areas, needs to be harnessed in order to incorporate local knowledge and needs in the regeneration project. The locals should be engaged in the project throughout through co-design and educational activities. All nature-based solutions need to be implemented with great consideration over the ecological character of the area. The next steps will entail follow-up discussions with locals and scenario-building workshops.
Top image: Planned sites for green corridors and urban gardens