POINT (14.315193 40.889321)
  • Increase natural and public spaces, regenerate brownfields and existing settlements, enhance the historic centre and reconnect the urban region, new job opportunities and co-management regulations

    City of Casoria (Naples Metropolitan area)

    The city of Casoria is a medium size Italian municipality - 77.000 inhabitants in 12kmq – placed closely the city of Naples suburban.

    After the second world war, the city developed rapidly, thanks to the joint effect of public aid as “Mashall Plan” and the proximity to Naples and its mobility infrastructures (port, railway, airport, motorways).

    Between the 1950s and 1960s, the rural centre of Casoria was transformed into an industrial hub, and the population increased from 20.000 inhabitants in 1951 to over 80.000 in 2001.

    The urban growth has not been supported by adequate public policies, as consequence both manufacturing and residential districts have disorderly developed outside a general framework, in absence of urban planning rules.

    In the long run this uncontrolled increase was not helpful for the economic development and since the early 1980s industrial activities start to dismitted.

    Today Casoria is characterised by low quality of life, and congested public space, and the large private industrial areas contiguous to the city centre, are abandoned and colonised by a sort of natural “third landscape”.

    Additionally, tertiary sector as office complexes and shopping centers located along major mobility infrastructures, have gone bankrupt because of the last financial crises.

    As social consequences the unemployment rates around 30% (65% youth unemployment), crime is on the rise, and the most educated and whealthy young people migrate elsewhere.



    Main areas of interest

    The city of Casoria is engaged in the implementation of and articulated urban regeneration programme aimed at improving urban liveability and overcoming these problems.

    The integrated urban regeneration programme is based on the Local Action Plan elaborated during the involvement in URBACT III network “Sub>urban. Reinventing the fringe” (2015-2018) with city of Antwerp (Belgium), Baia Mare (Romania), Barcelona (Spain), Brno (Czech Republic), Wien (Austria), Dusseldorf (Germany), Oslo (Norway), Solìn (Croatia).

    Recently (dicember 2022), the city approved the Municipal Urban Plan, which provides a general urban planning framework for the ongoing projects.

    In the last years in order to increasing citizens’ trust in public actions and test from experience, some interventions have been carried out as preview of the urban municipality plan strategies.

    Respecting the principles of environmental sustainability and social inclusion, the objectives pursued by the ongoing interventions are:

    • Increase natural areas ;

    • Increase public spaces ;

    • Create new job opportunities ;

    • Regenerate brownfields ;

    • Regenerate existing settlements ;

    • Enhance the historic centre;

    • Reconnect the urban region ;

    • Draw up co-management and civic use regulations.

    An important focus of the plan is on environmental sustainability especially on the circularity of resources in the peri-urban sphere (water, energy, waste), and on the relationship between periphery and city centre to promote a trigger transformation effect between the two.  At least the city is debate on different forms of co-management of public facilities undergoing transformation as

    • Consolidation and restoration of the complex of Carmine’ Church in Piazza Cirillo for the creation of the Religious Tourism Centre;

    • Construction of a socio-educational structure for children in the confiscated building in the neighbourhood of Stella;

    • Redevelopment of the former court building to house social and health services;

    • Redevelopment and energy efficiency of the former municipal building in Piazza Cirillo to create a centre for youth creativity;

    • Centre for biodiversity in the building of the Former Air Force Park in Via Michelangelo;

    • Art and theatre workshops to support youth creativity - adaptation of existing facilities - M.L. King Contemporary Art Museum CAM Theatre.


    Casoria sbs_lab
    Municipality of Casoria
    Are you a candidate Lead Partner looking for partners
    Are you a potential Partner looking for a Lead Partner
    Your job title
    Institution website
  • sub>urban

    LEAD PARTNER : Antwerp - Belgium
    • Casoria - Italy
    • Solin - Croatia
    • Baia Mare - Romania
    • Vienna - Austria
    • Brno - Czech Republic
    • Oslo - Norway
    • Dusseldorf - Germany
    • Barcelona Metropolitan Area - Spain


    CONTACT: City of Antwarp, Grote Markt 1 - 2000 Antwarpen


    All video stories are available here.


    Kick-off meeting in July (Antwerp). Transnational meeting in November (Casoria).

    Transnational meetings in February (Oslo), June (Brussels) and October (Dusseldorf).

    Transnational meeting in January (Brno). Final event in May (Barcelona).

    The cities from this network searched for a solution to the following challenge: how can we make existing 20th century urban tissue attractive and qualitative again? How can we add a different urban layer? For the past two decades, urban development and planning practice in European cities and regions have focused on the renewal of metropolitan cores and historic inner cities. This has resulted in numerous success stories, but the wave of urban renewal in centres has generally coincided with strong population growth and demographic changes. Many inner cities have reached their peak in terms of density, population and mobility. At the same time most of the housing in 20th century (sub)urban areas are in need of renovation. The next logical step is a combined solution to these issues by reconverting this areas, to create a more sustainable and attractive environment.

    sub>urban APN logo
    sub>urban logo
    Reinventing the fringe
    Ref nid
  • Resilience and communities: URBACT at the Venice Architecture Biennale

    Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

    “How will we live together?” asks the 17th International Architecture Exhibition. URBACT has some answers.


    Resilient communities can be defined as those where the effort of reacting to rapid changes is a collaborative exercise: in a few words, where collaboration among people contributes to finding solutions to the challenges of the cities we live in.

    ‘Resilient Communities’ is also the title of the Italian Pavilion at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale. The pavilion proposes an interesting reflection on the role of cities, and architecture in general, to respond to the ambitious question featured in the title of this year’s Exhibition: “How will we live together?”.

    The main elements of the URBACT programme – the active engagement of residents and stakeholders, definition of integrated action plans to be implemented in the medium and long term, and collaborative governance of challenges connected to the different dimensions of urban sustainability – can all be considered part of the answer to this question posed by the Exhibition’s curator, internationally renowned architect Hashim Sarkis.

    The relevance of the URBACT methodology as part of a wider reflection on future models of inhabiting urban spaces is particularly tangible in Italy. Not only considering the high number of cities involved in URBACT networks, but also due to the role that the programme is playing in the national urban debate and in fostering connections among local decision-makers, stakeholders, architects and practitioners.

    These aspects pushed the curator of the Italian Pavilion, Alessandro Melis, to invite the representative of the National URBACT Point for Italy to be part of the Pavilion’s Advisor Board. The objective was to include the experiences of the Italian and European cities of URBACT in the wider picture composed by different visions on the contemporary city.


    URBACT and the collaborative mapping of community resilience

    The Italian Pavillon, a true cultural laboratory for rethinking the role of architects and cities on how we live together, is showcasing the complexity of relations among urban spaces, nature and people, with a dense programme of activities and events from 22 May to 21 November 2021.

    The National URBACT Point for Italy was involved in mapping stories of community resilience, together with City Space Architecture and Unipolis Foundation. The main focus of this mapping, set to continue after the end of the Biennale Exhibition, was on stories carried out at different urban levels, from small municipalities to metropolitan areas. This highlighted the role of active residents’ participation in improving the capacity of cities to respond to rapid changes and hardships.

    The action of collaborative mapping, available online or accessible through a QR code at the Italian Pavilion, was based on a selection of some of the most interesting solutions developed in diverse URBACT networks. These include a participatory scheme for the creation of new green spaces in Potenza, shared in the Resilient Europe Action Planning Network, and the opening of new public parks and infrastructure in Casoria, co-designed with support from the Sub>Urban network.

    The mapping also explores practices adapted and transferred in URBACT Transfer Networks, such as the tools to tackle urban poverty implemented by Bari in the framework of Com.Unity.Lab or the models of urban co-governance transferred by Naples to other EU cities in the Civic eState network.

    Activities developed under the Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) programme and then transferred with the UIA-URBACT Transfer Mechanism are also featured. Examples include Turin’s re-use of public spaces and underused structures developed with Co-City, and transferred to other cities in the CO4CITIES network, as well as Milan’s model promoting the agri-urban economy, which is being transferred to NEXT AGRI network partners.

    All these stories emerging from URBACT networks, narrated by the civic officials and elected representatives who implemented them at local level, have been making an important contribution to reflexions on the future of cities promoted by the Italian Pavillon. These practical experiences are presented alongside the principles of community resilience that were being studied by academics and experts well before Covid-19 raised the urgency of consolidating innovative urban solutions.


    Events at the Italian Pavillon

    These resilient city solutions were presented to national and international audiences in two seminars organised by the National URBACT Point for Italy in the arena of the Italian Pavillon on 21 and 22 September 2021. Representatives of Italian and European cities highlighted examples of community resilience, and showed how methodologies such as those promoted by URBACT are helping improve the governance of urban challenges.

    While the first meeting was mostly focused on an Italian perspective, the second enlarged the reflection to include the curators of the Slovenian Pavilion, National URBACT Points (Spain and Slovenia) and the cities of Madrid (ES) and Cluj Napoca (RO), which are testing similar methodologies of civic imagination and active involvement of residents and stakeholders on topics such as urban security or the future of work.

    The diversity of the experiences presented in Venice makes clear how different models of community resilience are shaping the future of public spaces, city services and urban infrastructures to respond to hardships and unexpected events.


    The Peccioli Charter and the legacy of the debate on community resilience

    The active contribution of cities and communities to reach the global goals on climate, a theme that re-emerged strongly from COP26, is one of the most relevant possible evolutions of the concept of community resilience in the years ahead.

    This approach was also shared by the Peccioli Charter, the document signed by all the members of the Italian Pavilion’s Steering Committee, which aims to be “a Constitution of the nation of the Italian resilient communities”. The document was officially launched in November 2019 in Peccioli, an Italian village which turned a wasteland site into a cultural and artwork space for all the community, a tangible example of resilient community. Meant as a legacy of the Pavilion, it defines the commitments that resilient communities need to put in practice in the medium and long terms. Among these, promoting knowledge and innovation, re-imagining cities and sharing urban spaces, being smart and anti-fragile.

    These are the sorts of actions being implemented by the cities and communities that are using the URBACT methodology to increase resilience, in the sense of “being brave communities, able to put in practice a permanent revolution, to adapt to rapid changes and to offer endless opportunities for reaching the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals,” as stated in the conclusions of the Peccioli Charter.


    Find out more

    Photos by Simone d’Antonio

    From urbact
    Ref nid

    Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

    Използвайте финансиране по УРБАКТ, за да разберете, адаптирате и подготвите иновативно решение!


    Използвайте финансиране по УРБАКТ, за да разберете, адаптирате и подготвите иновативно решение!

    Кой се страхува от новаторство?

    След успеха на мрежите за обмяна на добри практики по Програма УРБАКТ, секретариатът на програмата заедно с този на инициативата на ЕС за Иновативни действия за градско развитие (ИДГР) разработи пилотен механизъм за трансфер на иновации, осъществени по вече завършили проекти, финансирани по ИДГР.

    Пилотният механизъм ще финансира до четири мрежи за обмен на иновации. Всяка мрежа ще със състои от 4 партньори-европейски местни власти, в т.ч. водещия партньор. В резултат на сътрудничеството в мрежите партньорите ще изготвят план за внедряване на иновацията, предлагана от водещата община.

    Как да кандидатстваме?

    На адрес: са поместени Общите условия и Ръководството за кандидатстване по поканата. Първо, обаче, следва посетите т.нар. „Пазарище“ -, което съдържа подробна информация за потенциалните водещи партньори, изпълнили успешни проекти по ИДГР. Те включват Нант, Болоня, Бирмингам, Виена, Лил, Милано, Барселона, Билбао, Париж и др.

    В случай, че проявите интерес към тематиката на тяхната добра практика, следва да се свържете с тях чрез вградения формуляр за проява на интерес към включване в съвместна мрежа. На база получените формуляри и набрана допълнителна информация водещите партньори следва да стиковат мрежата и до подадат заявление на финансиране по програма УРБАКТ. С цел по-удачно териториално покритие в мрежите може да участват по една община от държава-членка на ЕС.

    За всякакви оперативни въпроси по участие в поканата кандидатите може да се обръщат за помощ към секретариата на УРБАКТ на ел.поща:

    За съдействие при проява на интерес българските общини могат да се обръщат и към експертите от екипа на НСОРБ, работещи по УРБАКТ и ИДГР: и

    Крайният срок за подаване за заявление за финансиране по поканата е 1 февруари 2021 г., 15.00 ч. централно европейско време.

    From urbact
    Ref nid
  • Breathing new life into abandoned spaces

    Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedIn
    This is the report of the Creative SpIN Final Event, held in Birmingham, 21-22 April 2015

    Located 10 km from Naples, in a mess of urban sprawl beneath a major airport flight path, Casoria has struggled through years of economic and social crisis. If it once benefited from the post-war boom, there is little evidence today beyond the shells of old factories. A maze of roads and railway lines chokes the chaotic modern city, which is home to an estimated 7 000 unauthorised buildings. Many of these sit empty, surrounded by concrete. Unemployment is at 30% — rising to 65% among young people — and more and more people are forced to leave the area to find work elsewhere.

    Trying to improve these conditions is notoriously difficult. Some problems are a reflection of national and regional inequalities. Others go back decades or are rooted deep in society. Despite this, in 2013 the municipality drew up an ambitious new urban plan, based on sustainable ecological models. The idea was to develop a network of abandoned and underused spaces that would be transformed into green or cultural hubs as the basis for a radical regeneration. After two years of preliminary work, as they waited for approval from the regional government, the municipality joined URBACT to share planning experiences with other cities

    Starting from zero

    We had no experience of an initiative like this,” says Francesca Avitabile, an architect in the municipality’s Public Works Department. “Before anything else we had to learn how to work as a community.” Thanks to their participation in URBACT, the city set up a group of local stakeholders (URBACT Local Group) to plan actions. The group’s meetings were large while the minutes were published online. The aim was to plan a series of small interventions in line with the broader urban strategy. From the offset, for example, owners of key brownfield sites were asked to provide temporary public paths on their land to connect future regeneration sites directly with the city centre. This was a simple and effective way of challenging the city’s fragmented geography.

    The group closely followed a step-by-step strategy, which formed the basis of their Integrated Action Plan. They had already identified Michelangelo Park, an overgrown ex-military base, as a pilot site from which to begin their gradual improvement of the town. “Transforming this was a practical demonstration of future visions, a prefiguration of those urban transformations that would be infeasible today,” says Enrico Formato, an external expert for Casoria, based at the University of Naples. During the development, the local group coordinated guerrilla gardening events and citizen-led clean-up initiatives. Even the furniture was co-designed during participatory sessions and procured for free, thanks to a programme of public sponsorship.

    Rebuilding a local identity

    In April 2018, Michelangelo Park was finally opened for use and it is now the biggest green space in the town. “This was the first tangible result of participatory methods in Casoria,” says Ms Avitabile. “It was the start of a whole new process for the community.” Even more remarkably, this was achieved in spite of sizeable political changes. In 2016, a new municipal administration was elected. And while the new party supported the park, they slowed down the wider implementation of the 2013 Structural Plan. That the sub>urban integrated plan survived this shift in policy is testament to the project’s popularity among citizens.

    As a result of URBACT, a network of associations and civic committees has been formed and consolidated in Casoria,” says Mr Formato. “Today even without a strong coordination of the municipal administration, they are carrying forward the ideas and methodologies shared during the sub>urban experience.” The ongoing development at another green site, Boccaccio Park, is the most visible sign of this unfolding impact. The main legacy, however, has been a shift in mentality. “URBACT is very important for people here,” confirms Ms Avitabile. “This wasn’t just about a park; it helped us rebuild our local identity.”


    You can find the Cities in Action - Stories of Change publication just here.


    From urbact
    Ref nid
  • New URBACT book: ‘Cities in Action - Stories of Change’

    Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedIn
    The Creative SpIN Local Action Plan in Rotterdam

    Paris, 24 January 2019 – A new publication by the European programme URBACT shares positive stories from 40 cities that took a more integrated approach to local policy-making while learning from EU peers in their ‘Action Planning Network’.

    Reviving a town centre, welcoming migrants, re-using abandoned buildings, boosting entrepreneurship, engaging citizens… ‘Cities in Action - Stories of Change’ shows cities finding new ways to tackle diverse urban challenges, bringing long-term improvements.

    It is about cities that have dared to experiment, that have succeeded in achieving results in the fields of social inclusion, economic development, urban planning, or greener ways of living,” writes Corina Creţu, EU Commissioner for Regional and Urban Policy, in the introduction. “City-to-city cooperation is the best way to facilitate exchange, adaptation, implementation and up-scaling of good practices all over the world.”

    Read the publication ‘Cities in Action - Stories of Change’

    These stories will be really inspiring for any urban practitioner looking for simple ways to bring people together and make their cities safer, cleaner and more prosperous. URBACT has sparked community-led improvements like these in more than a thousand cities since 2002.” says URBACT’s Adele Bucella

    The 40 cities range from Aarhus (DK) and its plan for collaborative citizenship, to Zagreb (HR) and its 11 new smart city initiatives. With URBACT’s support, each city formed a local group including officials, local stakeholders and urban experts, to co-create an Integrated Action Plan – many of whom contributed lively accounts to the publication. Meanwhile, cities also worked with up to 10 other partner cities in their URBACT network, including site visits and peer reviews.

    Today, more than 66% of these URBACT cities have had their Integrated Action Plan approved, nearly 50% secured funding for it, and more than 80% of them have already started implementing it.

    Locally-driven solutions

    The new publication includes:

    • A message from Corina Creţu, EU Commissioner for Regional and Urban Policy;
    • A clear summary of the URBACT method and its principles of horizontal and vertical policy integration;
    • Stories of locallydriven improvements in 40 EU cities, with solutions in nine key areas: urban mobility, jobs and skills in the local economy, reuse of abandoned spaces, climate adaptation, innovative public procurement, digital transition, inclusion of migrants and refugees, urban poverty, sustainable use of land;
    • Key information on the 20 Action Planning networks, including full partner lists.

    Lasting impact

    If we hadn’t joined MAPS I think we’d still be searching for one big aim, one big new reuse of the whole territory. And instead, the area must be split up, and different uses must appear. I think we’re now sure in the municipality that we’ve had the wrong approach over the past more than 20 years.
    Ágnes Győrffy, Project Manager for the Mayor’s Office of Szombathely (HU)

    As a result of URBACT, a network of associations and civic committees has been formed and consolidated in Casoria. Today even without a strong coordination of the municipal administration, they are carrying forward the ideas and methodologies shared during the sub>urban experience. This wasn’t just about a park; it helped us rebuild our local identity.
    Enrico Formato, University of Naples external expert for Casoria (IT).

    Visiting delegates had very powerful thoughts, and gave us the confidence to be strong in our desire to shape wider policy to tackle our city’s disadvantaged and neglected communities. We hope to have the support of this network to challenge politicians and decision-makers in Birmingham to ensure that a wider systems-thinking approach is continued, rather than reverting back to silo working.
    Ravinder Bains, Birmingham City Council (UK)

    From urbact
    Ref nid
  • Are you working on fringe?

    Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

    Maarten van Tuijl takes a look at the “sub>urban, re-inventing the fringe" network, across 9 cities, re-thinking city fringes over the past 2,5 years and working on the implementation of local action plans on pilot sites. So, he asks: what did we learn and what are our recommendations for working on the fringe?


    The fringe is the post war urban area in between the inner city and the suburbs. Besides being an unsustainable fragmented belt of often sub-optimal and mono-functional land usage cut by big infrastructure with pockets of social deprivation, the fringe also holds the promise of combining the best of both worlds. It has more amenities and is closer to the city centre than the low density suburbs, but also offers more space and green space than the city centre. To both face its challenges and to fulfil its promises, the renewal of the fringe demands a new approach to urban planning. Because most of the property in the fringe is privately owned and administrations have limited powers there, a new approach to urban renewal is needed.


    Located in the southern part of Düsseldorf’s fringe, Garath is a typical housing project district of the 1960s and ’70s. Garath faces specific challenges: the district is home to 18,730 inhabitants, of whom 11% are unemployed, a higher proportion compared to Düsseldorf as a whole. Rents are below the city average and the living space is often not adequate for today’s demands, which sometimes leads to a concentration of social problems. In addition, there are other urban deficits such as a patchy retail supply and a lack of attractive green and open spaces.

    To develop a strategy for Garath, process management has been implemented focu¬sing on participation of different stakeholders, especially the residents. The process has been developed within a year: Defining the roles of expert skills and knowledge:
    - a high level steering committee (mayor, aldermen, head of offices)
    - a working team (offices, external expertise),
    - a local team (offices, stakeholders)
    - and an advisory board (members of local council, stakeholders).

    A special feature of the Garath 2.0 project is the comprehensive participation of citizens, with different formats integrated into each planning step. Managing the transformation is only possible if the inhabitants are involved and support the change. Therefore, the residents have been included in the planning process right from the start. The participation formats aim at gaining the active cooperation of different sections of the population and different age groups and to involve them in the

    planning phases. This intensive participation fosters the network of initiatives already there and supports a better exchange.

    Neighbourhood Branding

    Particularly noteworthy is Neighbourhood Branding, a project aimed at mapping a shared perception of the future of the neighbourhood. The residents specified what they saw as needs for action and development. To gain this information different kinds of participation tools were used: a kick-off meeting, a community festival, neighbourhood talks, interviews with the mayor, aldermen, administration and stakeholders, a branding session, workshops and a future conference. Children and young people were also invited and involved. Based on this input 50 measures have been planned in total. Some are already being put into action, while others are still being planned.


    Start with a careful analysis of what is already there. Know your fringe: the buildings and the people. What are the characteristics of the present fringe?
    How does it function at the moment?
    What are its assets?
    Who is living and working there?
    Who are the owners of the land and buildings?
    Who should be involved (participation)?
    What exactly should be done for whom?
    These are questions that all cities must reflect on when planning for the fringe. It is not only about analysis, it is about recognizing and reinforcing these qualities. Go from tabula rasa to tabula scripta.


    Because of Solin’s rapid growth, the public domain is fragmented and is generally underused. In the past few years, citizens have noticed this and expressed the need to reconnect with the waterfront. Large physical infrastructural barriers are not easily removed, however, especially not for a small municipality in Croatia. Building a large tunnel or reducing the number of lanes or the speed limit is not possible at this moment. Instead of being paralysed by these problems, Solin focused on making the mental barriers smaller. By making small, inexpensive and innovative interventions in the segregated urban space, the barriers themselves

    were put in the spotlight and treated as an opportunity. Solin has realized several specific projects aimed at creating new connections and uses.

    The first project is a pedestrian underpass beneath a street with heavy traffic, which children use daily on their way to and from school. To avoid the danger of making it an unattractive and dark space that ends up underused, the walls were painted with site-specific graffiti. The underpass area is larger than its primary function requires, making it more of a space and less of a passageway. There is even scope for small-scale sporting activities. Thus, the underpass has become a new public space and a new tourist attraction because the artists are internationally known.

    A second project concerns the refurbishment of the beach. This beach had been used for generations, but because of industrial expansion during the 20th century and regional infrastructural networks, it had become isolated and abandoned. The city decided to adopt a participatory approach to activate its underused areas, involving the local citizens in the design process. Together they have started with a clean-up of the beach and seabed. Currently, they are in the process of site-development and landscape works. Even with these small improvements, citizens have started to use the beach again, reclaiming the public space.

    For this site, nearby industrial companies and the County were persuaded to provide funding as a sponsorship of the public space.


    Many parts of the fringe have been neglected for too long.
    The buildings and public space in the fringe need to be upgraded.
    Increase the sustainability of existing buildings.
    Stimulate more sustainable, less car-based, mobility.
    Improve conditions for existing communities.
    Make better use of underused areas and buildings.
    Diversify mono-functional areas.
    Open up fenced-off areas.
    Find new, interesting typologies for housing.
    Integrate social infrastructure, jobs and production.
    Turn this unloved outcast into a loved part of the city.


    The Lageweg area is locked in a status quo. It is a hybrid building block, where different zoning areas (indus¬try and housing) are touching each other. Almost all the land is privately owned, there is almost no public land position. There is no real social connection between inhabitants and users of the place. It is in need of transformation lest it continue to deteriorate or be developed plot-wise without added public value. It was paramount that the city should break through this local status quo. The aim for the city is to create an integrated development. Therefore, the city planned 5 discussion moments around a table with the landowners:
    - Mind Opening Dialogues & Ambition Levels - A kick-off based on possibilities
    - Design Table & Interactive Scale Model - To create trust in the collectivity 
    - Safari on Site & Brochure with future prospect - Linking imagination to the experience of the group
    - Declaration of Engagement & Personal Assistance - From best content to best possible content. - From receptive involvement to active involvement
    - Spatial & Financial Calculation Model - From a linear to an iterative process

    Starting with mind-opening dialogues and an exploratory kick-off discussion, collective ambitions for the area were defined. The first idea of a multi-plot development was born. Each owner started looking beyond his/her own plot, enlarging the spatial opportunities. Another instrument was a safari tour of the site in the form of a guided walk with all the stakeholders. The brochure made for the walk showed the soil contamination and possible future development scenarios in one, five and twenty years’ time. On the one hand, this information made the owners aware that the current land use plan needed to be changed in order to realize the long-term plan. On the other hand, it became clear that soil decontamination was an issue for more than one owner. One of the owners demanded that the land use plan (RUP) be altered or he would withdraw from the co-creation project on this site. At this point, the role of the

    city evolved from facilitating to regulating, denying the owner’s demand in order to stress the importance of a joint plan and a common urban vision.

    A second step was co-creating a design plan for the area and making it more visual by using an interactive scale model. This prompted one of the private partners to ask: “What is my financial gain?” In a classic process, providing the answer to that question would delay the entire process. In the Lageweg process, however, we started to work simultaneously on the financial aspect of the multi-plot development. Working on parallel tracks speeds up the process instead of blocking and delaying it. The financial question demonstrated the benefits of the collective process used in Lageweg.

    The Lageweg pilot project is a learning process, both for the city and for the owners concerned. The government has to assume the role of facilitator to get all stakeholders to support a co-creative vision and ensure that the owners make it happen. At the same time, it is necessary to guard the common interest. This balance is a continuous challenge.


    The fringe is the manifestation of individualism and consumerism.
    To have any impact here it is necessary to create incentives that make it appealing to go beyond individual interests.
    Link people and projects to one another.
    Deploy temporary use and place-making as tools to create stronger communities.
    Stimulate private owners to work together in their own interest.
    Make collective spaces more attractive. Encourage multifunctional use of spaces and interaction.


    The Viennese municipality boundaries are very tight around the historical city, leaving Vienna no choice but to work together with neighbouring communities to provide houses, amenities and jobs for its growing population. Vösendorf, a small neighbouring community of 7,000 habitants in the south-west, built large retail and shopping centres on the boundary with Vienna during the 1960s and ’80s, which proved to be very profitable but has put strain on its relationship with Vienna. Today, however, both municipalities need each other. A large part of the retail area in Vösendorf is decaying and in need of transformation while Vienna is actively looking for new neighbourhoods to absorb their growth in a connected and sustainable way. The two municipalities decided to work together in the URBACT network to imagine a future for a part of Vösendorf and Liesing, bordering the 23rd district of Vienna.

    According to Austrian constitutional law, the municipality – the lowest administrative entity – is responsible for land use planning. Each of the nine Austrian provinces has its own planning law, and the municipalities are obliged to apply it in their own spatial plans. Vienna is a province and a municipality at the same time. While our neighbouring municipality Vösendorf applies the Lower Austrian Planning law, Vienna uses its own. Thus, there is no formal authority that coordinates and regulates planning across provincial borders in a formally binding way.

    As there is not much likelihood of any change in the near future, Vienna is trying to work together in a more ‘informal’ way. The Stadt-Umland-Management acts as an intermediary to help us manage such processes. Generally, institutions act within their own competences and hierarchies. When elaborating the Integrated Action Plan, Vienna tried to overcome this hurdle and asked all relevant stakeholders to contribute to the discussion by thinking very freely about ideas for the cross-border project area.

    The stakeholders were invited to a series of workshops, walks and bilateral talks and followed the principle that any event should take place on the spot, for example in a local discotheque. The various participants drafted a vision, which led to four scenarios: the so-called Stories from the fringe. They act as the basis for implementation projects we want to initiate. The structure provided by the URBACT sub>urban network allowed us to establish a more sustainable working routine. At the beginning of the project, we reached a formal agreement between Lower Austria, Vösendorf and Vienna on personnel and financial contributions. We got to know our neighbours, their perception and visions. We contributed to a better climate of trustfully working together. The project acted as a broker for cross-administrative relationships. We reached the most relevant institutions and players on an administrative and political level, and some of the landowners. As one outcome of the Integrated Action Plan we are going to tackle five implementation projects. As a second step – in line with the topic of each project – we would like to involve the people who work or live in the respective area. We are starting to notice an increase in awareness. Cooperation between all administrative bodies in a metropolitan region seems to be essential for prosperity and a sound settlement development.


    Planning for the fringe can’t be done from a fixed and single perspective.
    Work on the level of the city´s urban strategy and test this strategy in one or more pilot projects at the same time.
    Complement concrete findings on the local level with the ambitions of the strategic plan, and vice versa.
    Integrate interaction and reflection on both levels.


    Today, the formerly booming industrial town Casoria, next to Naples, is in crisis. Several industries have relocated their factories, many shopping centres are struggling, and there are a lot of vacant office spaces while services have been cut back. In addition, the population is in decline, unemployment stands at 30%, and citizens are generally distrustful of public policies. The urban settlements were built in a dense and illogical way and there is a lack of public space. Too many challenges to tackle all at once, therefore Casoria has launched the step by step lab as its new urban plan, addressing short term, midterm and long term goals in an intelligent and interconnected way.

    The first Operational Program focuses on the abandoned, underutilized and degraded areas – the so-called ‘wastescapes’ – flanking the major infrastructures that cross the territory. The strategy uses wastescapes to push the urban transformation. In this case a large open park (forest, playground, additional facilities) – whose extension in 2025 will amount to a quarter of the entire municipal territory – will change the urban structure of Casoria, especially the perception of inhabitants and stakeholders. The current brown-grey settlement will be progressively converted into a living green city.

    Real and executed transformation projects are essential for the success of the planned activities. That is why the strategy starts with small-scale actions: temporary public uses of abandoned lands, massive planting of trees and hedges, and steady redesign of pedestrian, cycling and ecological paths. This first steps show direct results which builds the trust of citizens in the local government. At the same time it is a learning experience for the city offices, the politicians and the participating citizens. Gradually the step-by-step strategy moves forward to more complex transformations: the redevelopment of brownfields,

    the renewal of high-density urban areas and the restoration of historical settlements.

    As a first step Casoria has transformed and opened a formerly fenced off Military base as a public park in this dense city lacking public space. During its first URBACT local Group meeting the stakeholders present were asked why public space in the city was taking care of so badly. This has lead to awareness that each citizen has a responsibility towards the public space and its maintenance and eventually to citizens the co-management of the park. ). A wide participation process has been facilitated by a massive information campaign, conducted on social media. Thus, many citizens and local stakeholders are now involved in the co-creation and co-construction of the public Michelangelo Park (about 3.5 ha, the largest in Casoria).


    Work with a flexible plan and integrate learning moments.
    Work today on short, intermediate and long term plans.
    Plan for the fringe based on the full life cycle of an area.
    Work with the current context, learn from it and anticipate the new operational phase by organizing management.
    Each step can feed the learning process and can help the strategic plan grow to achieve a more sustainable and inclusive fringe.

    From urbact
    Ref nid
  • Densification beyond the city centre: urban transformation against sprawl

    Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

    Densification of urban areas beyond the core of the cities is not an easy task but it is a challenge worth taking to fight against urban sprawl.. City centres, which are usually already dense and mostly regenerated, are surronded by transitional belts (sometimes called fringe areas) which have diverse urban functions with lower density, offering in principle good opportunities for densifying interventions towards the aim of compact city development. However, the task is not easy at all: physical interventions to achieve environmental benefits have high risks of negative social externalities; moreover they require substantial financial means in a period when the public sector suffers from the consequences of the financial crisis. 

    The challenges of densification are first discussed from a theoretical point of view and illustrated by city examples. Then the approach of the URBACT Action Plannig Network sub>urban is highlighted, showing innovative approaches in four of the project partner cities. Finally a snapshot is given about the dynamic way in which sub>urban is dealing with this challenging topic in transnational meetings. 

    Urban sprawl

    The challenge of urban sprawl

    Density is one of the central issues in the recent debates about the urban future. The reason for that lies in the contradiction between the private and public interests in relation to the density of urban living: most actors (households, developers, businesses, etc.) strive to increase their individual, private benefits which, however, can only be satisfied at the expense of public interests. For example, most families prefer less dense urban forms, and their dreams result in sprawling suburbs which are very harmful from the perspective of sustainable urban development.

    This contradiction between individual interests and their disastrous collective consequences is described as the ‘Tragedy of the Commons’ (Hardin, 1968). The problem lies in the fact that the gains (returns) and the costs are neither accrued to nor born by the same actors. Moreover, the gains are often abstract and lie in the future while the costs are concrete and fall due in the present. This is a big challenge of the future: how can the – in the long run – more sustainable forms of (compact) urban development get more accepted by households, against their own immediate preferences.
    This challenge is further complicated by the fact that density is not the only aspect of sustainable urban development. Sustainability in a broader sense should mean a dynamic balance between economic, environmental and social considerations. Therefore, in the end it is not density in itself that is interesting, but the relationship between the economic, environmental and social outcomes produced by different density levels. However, the environmental and social aspects of densification get often in contradiction with each other. Transitional areas are usually dominated by lower income residents, who are endangered by densification, at the risk of being pushed much further away from the central areas, and therefore with lower chances (and higher costs) to access inner city jobs. In that way the environmentally positive densification usually leads to negative social externalities, combined with the often occurring gentrification effects which decrease social mix.
    Pictures 1-2. Suburb in the making close to Madrid in 2009; A typical transitional area in Rotterdam in 2016 
    The challenges of urban development – and among them densification, as one of the tools – are present in all growing cities. In a recent seminar (Amsterdam, 2016) the case of the dynamically expanding Amsterdam was presented, which has to build 300 thousand new units by 2040. All traditional reserve areas (hospitals, military, etc) have already been used. Some reserve still exists in empty office and factory buildings and through densification, which would allow for 40 thousand additional housing units. For the other 260 thousand units only quite inconvenient options exist: super densification, demolishing 19th century areas in good shape; constructing on the green wedges (fingers), protected since many decades; or densifying Almere and the other new towns, outside the administrative borders of the city. Thus in the (extreme) case of Amsterdam the ‘normal’ practices of densification would not even be sufficient to answer the challenge of dynamic growth. Even so, densification (and keeping the already existing dense areas liveable) is unavoidable. 
    The sub>urban approach
    The URBACT Sub>urban network, led by the city of Antwerp, followed by the Lead Expert Maarten van Tuijl, concentrates on the urban fringe. This is defined as the often non glorious post war area surrounding the historic city, encompassing a mix of large modernist housing estates, low-density private housing, malls, logistical companies, recreational areas, businesses and industrial zones (van Tuilj, 2016). The aim of the network is to explore and compare the options to densify the urban fringe in an integrated way, taking both the physical and social characteristics into account. Densification through the „Regeneration in the urban fringe should be aimed toward mixed cultural and ethnic backgrounds and people of different incomes, education levels and ages. Therefore, the challenge also lies in spreading the benefits of growth and of regeneration equally and in providing affordable housing, jobs and facilities for all.” (ibid)
    The conditions for densification of the fringe areas in the partner cities of sub>urban are not optimal, to say the least: the financial position of the municipalities is bad, the once dynamic public actors (e.g. housing associations) are in financial troubles, the banks are very cautious to invest in anything. On the top of all these in most cities properties in the fringe area are privately owned, both by big corporations and private households, thus the planning influence of the municipalities can only be indirect and limited. 
    Under such circumstances cities have to find new, innovative approaches to achieve their strategic aim, the densification of the urban fringe in an integrated way, i.e. avoiding negative social and environmental externalities. The general approach of sub>urban is described here.
    Below, I describe how 4 of the sub>urban cities try to engage all potential stakeholders, such as owners of land and buildings, investors, developers, residents, workers and potential newcomers in their strategies.
    Antwerp experiences a strong population growth outside the inner city. It has selected 7 action planning areas from the large territory of the urban fringe, with very different challenges and identities. Lageweg, a formal industrial site, is one of them. The area is characterised by a high number of owners with small plot sizes. There, the municipality applies specific pilot measures to speed up the development process (van Tuilj, 2016). It organises activities such as mind opening dialogues and kick-off discussions to explore collective ambitions for the area, co-creative design tables involving an interactive scale model of different scenarios in order to build collective trust, guided walks with all stakeholders with a brochure showing possible future scenarios, adaptable spatial and financial calculation models to test the feasibility of several options. Thanks to these tools most of the land owners were gradually convinced and decided to sign a declaration of engagement to work and invest together in the project. The success of the initiative was that it allows to work across property borders and to make an effective plan for the whole area, for a step-by-step development.
    Oslo wants to solve the conflict of dynamic growth versus spatially limited urban area (the city is surrounded by highly valued green belt which can not be touched) by densifying former monofunctional industrial areas, within the city border but outside the city core. 5 pilot project areas are selected to test a new process, with the objective to make transformation more flexible. The city focuses on the essentials and leaves room for private parties to come up with their own ideas. A Planning Program defines general guidelines, urban development principles and rough parameters for land use, height and utilization (van Tuilj, 2016). This is extended by a Principle Plan for the Public Space, which defines the boundary, size and desired qualities of public spaces, identifies and describes public projects and builds in a certain flexiblity, so that market parties can fill in the rest.
    Brno has been characterized by heavy suburbanization in the last two decades. To mitigate that, the city is looking for opportunities of densification within the city border. Two action areas have been selected. They are relatively close to the city centre (10 minutes by tram). A dynamic university campus has been built in the area, which is still surrounded by little gardens. Some of the gardens are already abandoned as the owners know that the area will change: the future use will be housing – although no infrastructure and transport links exist yet. Brno municipality decided for an experimental approach instead of the usual top-down decision-making. As a first step links have been created between the relevant municipal departments, the mayor and the 3 affected district mayors. Nearby residents were waiting for the municipality’s ideas (e.g. immediate re-zoning) and were prepared to oppose these. To their greatest surprise they were approached by the municipality and asked about their ideas. This new type of planning process is unusual in post-socialist cities, it has to be explained not only to the different units of the city and district administrations but also to the politicians. The URBACT project and the need to create Local Support Group was a good occasion to start this journey towards an uncharted territory in policy-making.
    Casoria is the largest municipality in the northern Naples area, only 10 km away from Naples. The population (around 78 000) has been decreasing in the last two decades. From the late 1970s on, Casoria has lost its role as major industrial centre: production activities stopped, factories and industrial sites were abandoned. The city developed a strong services sector but today even the services sector finds itself in crisis. Local residents are leaving the area due to traffic congestion, unemployment, low quality settlements, poor quality housing, inadequate infrastructures (roads, facilities) and lack of public green space (see Sub-urban Baseline Study, 2016:95). In Casoria, the need for densification comes not from urban growth or suburbanization but from the high number of underused areas and buildings from the industrial and services sectors and from the plans of the municipality to create large suburban public parks. The city promotes flexible planning in transparent arenas, testing tactical urbanism. Instead of top-down decisions, the public administration wants to work with private owners and city users (associations). Cooperation with other municipalities is planned towards a strategic plan beyond the municipal borders.
    The four cases show the different circumstances and reasons under which densification of the urban fringe might become an important aim towards more sustainable urban development: not only in dynamically growing cities (Antwerp, Oslo) but also in stagnating (Brno) or even shrinking (Casoria) cities. These cases also illustrate that cities have to start dealing with their transition areas even before having completed the regeneration of their inner cities. Even if inner city renewal is unfinished, to continue it might be very costly and cities may decide to change priorities towards cheaper interventions in the transitional belt, where more flexible approaches are possible. 
    Sub>urban in action: Messages for the Future of Casoria 
    The Casoria transnational meeting of the sub>urban network included discovery walks of the city in small groups and provided the opportunity for partners of the network from other cities to leave their messages for the future of Casoria. Have a look!
    Pictures 3-4. The urban walk in Casoria: the map and the group underway. 
    Pictures 5-6. The sub>urban group in Casoria’s largest brownfield area. 
    The walk was followed next day by an urban gardening action in the course of which all partner cities got the opportunity to plant a tree and leave in this way their message for the future development of Casoria. 
    Pictures 7-8. Urban gardening and peer review discussion about the Local Action Plans in the Contemporary Art Museum 
    From urbact
    Ref nid