BRAILA LABORATORY - Alternative approaches to urban peripheries

Project facts

Project promoter:
'Ion Mincu' University of Architecture and Urbanism
Project Number:
Target groups
Initial project cost:
Final project cost:
From EEA Grants:
€ 76,958
The project is carried out in:


The project comes to meet the real situation of the current General Urban Plan of Braila City taking place this time and that has planned to respond to the inhabitants’ needs, in order to harmonious urban development. According to socio-urban survey conducted in 2010-2012 by INCD-URBAN PROJECT, “the indifference and lack of community involvement is at extremely high level in the opinion of over 77% of subjects surveyed, only 6.5% of them saying that they care of Braila citizens problems". The project is an educational collaboration that looks to engage the city of Braila as an urban laboratory to explore and develop alternative and critical positions to urban peripheries within the shrinking city. The project consists of (1) preparatory research (2) an international conference (3) a spring workshop. The project relies on a "in the mirror" approach for the cities Bergen and Braila - position that will facilitate an alternative investigation and various modes of questioning the relationship between citizen and city. Using this deep overlap between the applicant and partner institutions, the project intends to serve as a generator for new methodologies and approaches to the shrinking city by engaging directly with its peripheries – ethnic minorities, social minorities, economic minorities, abandoned, underused public spaces, buildings and landscapes, waste materials, etc – working to make them into active components of city development. The Norwegian partner experience involves an inclusive approach with cultural openness and will to explore and develop new techniques / strategies / methods for planning peripheral areas, those not suitable for master plan based planning. It will tests stimulus actions, catalyst scenarios, targeted interventions and demonstrations on a small scale spaces, in order to reach more directly to the interests, values, abilities and expectations of the local population towards the development of their own city.

Summary of project results

The shrinking condition is quite common for many cities and towns across the world, and it has led to new forms of urban poverty and inequality. The current traditional top-down planning approach became ineffective in coping with these newfound realities of crisis-like conditions. The joint educational project of the Ion Mincu University of Architecture and Urbanism – Faculty of Urban Planning (UAUIM-FUP) and the Bergen School of Architecture (BAS) in cooperation with Braila Municipality have engaged with the City of Brăila as an Urban Laboratory in order to explore and develop alternative and critical positions to urban peripheries within the shrinking issue. The specific objectives were achieved as follow: the project creates an active and open Urban Laboratory, an international exposure, the project built an intercultural dialogue and a multidisciplinary exchange of experience and good practices, started a bilateral cooperation between two complementary schools, the involvement of architects and urban planners together with artists, writers, anthropologists and sociologists. The following results were achieved a spring / summer workshop, an exhibition, the complimentary small research, the publishing of articles and participating to conferences, itinerating the exhibition "This place is pretty good", an open seminar on the theme "Good places in shrinking cities", the project website, an exploratory workshop at Braila, an open debate and film evening, an open lecture, the web-site implementation and content updating, 2 presentation texts for the exhibition's brochure, an exhibition named "Explorations- Tactics – Actions", an international round table, the publication of the project results as a complex book in 2 volumes Markers. Explorations, Tactics and Actions into Braila, Romania. The sharing of knowledge and experience of the two different academic schools (BAS and UAUIM) were developed on two different cultural backgrounds, but they have been verified and applied into a common situation - the city of Braila, thus conceived a an Urban Laboratory. The project helped connect the local population to their built environment, by involving them in the process of re-activating of different deteriorated peripheral zones. Also, the B-Lab captured the aspects of the daily life in the urban peripheral areas, making also a contribution to the cultural history and archaeology of places, especially those situate in decline areas.

Summary of bilateral results

The partnership between UAUIM - University of Architecture and Urbanism "Ion Mincu" (promoter) and BAS-Stiftelsen Bergen Arkitekthøgskole (partner), consisted of the following contributions of the Norwegian partner: SUMMER WORKSHOP / SUMMER WORKSHOP BAS coordinator - with the results: work-theme / in situ report / intervention - event / poster / flyer / exhibition brochure. Contribution through conception, activity coordination, execution, expert involvement, dissemination and promotion. International Round Measure And Exhibition - BAS coordinator and UAUIM. Partner contribution to the design and organization of the MNAC exhibition, the transportation of guests from abroad, dissemination and promotion. Communication and promotion of the project - coordinator BAS and UAUIM. Partner contribution through: The concept of the event "This place is pretty good", co-participation in the website, conception and production decision 1 brochure + 1 leaflet (Phase 1), contribution to the publication of the project results (volume coordinated by BAS- This Space Is Pretty Good: Spatial Approaches to Braila's Latency - Stage 4. These partner outcomes were essential to meeting all the project goals, helping to achieve the indicators assumed by the grant application. The two universities- UAUIM and BAS - differ significantly beyond the study funding system (public for UAIM / private for BAS), especially as to how students are "exposed" to realities on the ground, and effectively involved in the current problems of urban life. This distinction was constructively speculated in the project, becoming an opportunity for confrontation and method innovation. In terms of shared results achieved are worth mentioning the method implemented in the field for detection of the problems of the city in peripheral areas by means of critical elements, carrying a spatial, functional, aesthetic or social message (urban markers) and the concept of urban reactivation actions, through the contribution and co-participation of the inhabitants, and the transmission of the message of the existence of inexpensive internal resources available.