POINT (12.566099 45.630335)
  • CityCentreDoctor

    The Intercultural cities programme (ICC) supports cities in reviewing their policies through an intercultural lens and developing comprehensive intercultural strategies to help them manage diversity positively and realise the diversity advantage.

    Amadora launches a Guide on the welcoming of migrants

    Blue Economy Forum

    BluAct Toolkit

    BluAct: The Documentary


    Kick-off meeting in June (Heerlen). Transnational meetings in September (Medina del Campo) and November (Amarante).
    Transnational meetings in April (Nord sur Erdre), May (San Dona di Piave), July (Idrija) and September (Valmez).
    Final event in March (San Dona di Piave).

    Municipality of Athienou
    2, Archbishop Makarios III Ave.
    7600 Athienou Cyprus


    Municipality of Santiago de Compostela


    Municipality of Udine (Italy)


    For any enquires into Tech Revolution, email:

    Keep following our social media channels as we develop Tech Revolution 2.0 as part of the second wave of URBACT ||| Programme. 

    Follow our Twitter: @Tech_RevEu
    Follow our Linkedin:




    Av. Movimento das Forças Armadas

    2700-595 Amadora



    +351 21 436 9000

    Ext. 1801


    City of Rome

    Department of European Funds and Innovation

    Via Palazzo di Città, 1 - 10121 Turin (Italy)



    Câmara Municipal de Lisboa

    Departamento de Desenvolvimento Local

    Edifício Municipal, Campo Grande nº25, 6ºE | 1749 -099 Lisboa



    Laura González Méndez. Project coordinator.

    Gijón City Council


    Municipality of Piraeus


    City of Ljubljana

    Mestni trg 1

    1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia


    Project Coordinator Martin Neubert

    +49 371 355 7029



    Riga NGO House


    City of Antwarp
    Grote Markt 1 - 2000 Antwarpen

    Manchester City Council
    Manchester M2 5RT

    City of Rotterdam
    Coolsingel 40, 3011 AD Rotterdam

    City Council Bielefeld
    Bürger Service Center
    Phone +49 521 510


    City of Eindhoven
    Stadhuisplein 1, 5611 EM Eindhoven

    City of Loulé
    Praça da República, 8104-001 Loulé
    Phone +351 289 400 600


    City of Igualada
    Plaça de l'Ajuntament, 1, 08700 Igualada, Barcelona


    City of Ghent
    Stad Gent
    Botermarkt 1
    9000 Gent

    City of Genoa
    Via di Francia, 1 - XI floor. 16149 Genova


    City of San Donà di Piave Piazza Indipendenza, 13 – 30027


    The cities of this Action Planning network were challenged to identify the urban issues relate to their city centre, analyse perceptions and reality of those areas. All cities have a centre which historically and functionally brings residents, businesses, services and a range of social activities together. Thus, the involved cities shared ideas and practices, supporting each other to develop actions to strengthen the revitalisation of their city centres (which is often the nexus for social, cultural and, ultimately, economic local development).

    Revitalising city centres of smaller cities
    Ref nid
  • Five flawless ways to revitalise small town centres

    Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

    Are town centres ready to welcome people again? Five solutions to make small city centres more attractive in the post-Covid era.


    There is no doubt that town centres were among the places hardest hit by the effects of the pandemic, worsening a crisis already felt in many European highstreets. Nevertheless, many elements of these town centres can be potential engines for attracting new residents or creating new economic opportunities for small shops and other commercial activities. 

    Coming from a big city, the most striking aspect when you arrive in a small or medium-sized town is the silence, the slowed-down activity compared to the symphony of horns, buses and incessant background noise that characterises a day spent in a larger urban context. This is particularly true when visiting the partner cities in URBACT networks that deal with the revitalisation of small historic centres, such as City Centre Doctor. The network has represented in recent years one of the main arenas of dialogue for small and medium-sized European municipalities committed to finding common solutions to a plurality of cross-cutting issues to design the small liveable cities of the future.

    Environmental care, the promotion of tourism, the revitalisation of urban spaces, economic growth: these are just a few of the main concerns for cities whose centres were hit first by the economic crisis and then by Covid, with each new crisis increasing the risk of depopulation.

    San Donà di Piave (IT)

    Much smaller than nearby Treviso or Venice, San Donà di Piave (IT), with 40 000 inhabitants, is the right size to be able to experiment with shared methodologies for the recovery and improved quality of public spaces, creating spaces where new forms and methods of innovation and participation can be tested. It is perhaps no coincidence that this municipality is the first in Italy to have launched a Department for Participatory Urban Regeneration, with clear mention of the URBACT Local Group as a long-term tool to make the collaborative methodologies promoted by the European programme part of the regular activities of the municipality.

    Compared to bigger cities, it is easier to focus attention on these issues in small towns where social cohesion is stronger and local government actions can be more incisive in revitalising social spaces, in order to recreate a new community spirit. It is also in small towns that important approaches can be developed to make centres more liveable and inclusive, with valid lessons for larger urban contexts too.

    The solutions, and food for thought, produced by City Centre Doctor and other URBACT networks on the theme of small city centres have animated national and European debates on the implementation of European and global Urban Agendas, as well as contributing to the new European cohesion policy. Here are five key lessons:

    1. To revitalise a city centre, think about what you want to do with the urban space

    Many cities focus on using empty spaces for parking, but the experience of cities such as Amsterdam, Utrecht, and Copenhagen teaches us that reducing the space allocated to cars can be a decisive contribution to making a city more vibrant and liveable.

    The use of large spaces, such as squares, for a variety of functions is the ideal way to revitalise a city, whether large or small, perhaps even providing original uses: a playground, an urban beach, or a place for art installations, yoga, or music for young people.

    In small towns, it is possible to return to the concept of the square and enrich it with new uses. The same is true for streets, which are transformed into temporary open-air markets during neighbourhood festivals in Belgian cities, or given back to the citizens to pedal, walk, meet or eat together in Medina del Campo (ES).

    It's not just a matter of pedestrianisation, but also of making the streets more beautiful: covering them with marble, as in Portugal, or with street artworks, as in San Francisco or in Quito, Ecuador, where a work of tactical urbanism was created at the occasion of the Habitat III Conference in 2016.

    2. It won't be the big stores that save the historical centres, but small-scale, high quality commerce

    Can bringing Primark or McDonald's into a small town make it more attractive? Not really, especially if you think about the economic and social sustainability of the whole operation. Instead, create the conditions to make historic centres a framework in which quality commerce can grow, bringing creativity and value to small towns, starting with a redefinition of public spaces to make them liveable, walkable, and attractive. Heerlen has tried this with the widespread use of street artwork, making the Dutch town an open-air museum of urban art – certified as a good practice by the URBACT programme.

    Antwerpen (BE)

    But street art alone is not enough. Experimenting with new systems of rules to encourage creative entrepreneurship, for example by making it possible to open temporary stores or encouraging young people to open new businesses with specific training actions and exemption from paying local taxes for two years, are some elements of the strategies revitalising cities in Belgium or Ireland, for example. Solutions include Cork’s ‘Streetwise’ programme or Antwerp's ‘Pop up to date’ initiative, another URBACT good practice.

    Many small centres are also focusing on maintaining local stores and enhancing activities such as craft breweries and bars. They put the focus on quality and reasoned use of public spaces, giving inhabitants the perception of an attractive and liveable place.

    "A place needs to be cool, but you only create ‘coolness’ if you create better public spaces and properly support the work of entrepreneurs," comments Wessel Badenhorst, City Centre Doctor lead expert.

    Proximity shops proved their importance during the lockdown, helping revive community spirit in many towns and villages. What happened in 2020 is a reminder of the importance of this particular category of commercial activities, some of which innovated their offers to contrast the rise of online commerce with more personalised customer service.

    3. Kicking cars out of downtowns to make them more liveable

    In small towns, you can still see children riding their bikes on sidewalks, but residents are often dependent on cars to access basic services. There is no doubt that the longer cars stay out of town centres, the more attractive they become.

    The issue of mobility in small towns concerns not only the way people move from one place to another, but also the system of transporting goods, especially now that online platforms and courier lorries are revolutionising the way we shop, even in the smallest towns.

    Reducing pollution by organising mobility and supply systems differently is a key solution to improving the way people perceive the spaces around them. For example, the use of cargo bikes instead of polluting trucks to create delivery systems that are environmentally friendly and close to the end user is becoming increasingly popular in a sector that, despite a lack of major innovative improvements, can act strongly on established habits of the various links in the chain.

    Cure people from car dependency: an assumption that becomes the cornerstone of structured and collaborative actions and policies, especially in small towns.

    4. Making young and old the protagonists of change in historic centres

    Young people and the elderly are two social groups tied more closely than others to historic town centres. For young people who do not own a car, the historic centre can become part of their identity, with the consequence that if there are few local activities, they grow up hoping to leave, abandoning their small centre. Making young people protagonists of their hometown’s future is a solution to stop them wanting to ‘escape’.

    Idrija (SI)

    The mayor of Idrija, Slovenia, asked local young people to indicate a series of actions to be carried out in different parts of their town. Unexpectedly, rather than asking for disruptive, chaotic actions, they asked for re-appropriation of spaces, activities in the squares such as music and dance performances, or playing with skateboards. This proved that it is not just bars that make young people stay in a place, but rather the freedom to do their own thing. This was also true in Amarante, Portugal, where young people were able to organise a week of events on the theme of citizenship. "Young people are the ones who implement change in the inner cities," says Wessel Badenhorst.

    As for the elderly, and others who are unable to drive, access to healthcare and social services becomes a key factor in their ability to live in the area.

    Udine’s Playful Paradigm – a good practice shared with other medium-sized city partners thanks to URBACT – is one solution to help counter depopulation and promote social cohesion. The approach fosters links between different segments of the population through programmes and initiatives that strengthen people’s sense of belonging to the place they live, and promote its quality of life. Better urban planning starts from places and spaces designed and shared with people: Jane Jacobs' teaching is even more valid in centres where different parts of the population must cooperate to keep alive the branch of the tree on which they are sitting.

    Collaboration among residents of different generations during the Covid crisis is a perfect example of how communities can be resilient in small centres: a lesson for cities to implement in wider, integrated policies for social welfare, urban planning and liveability.

    5. Making inhabitants proud of the place in which they live

    Creating trust among people to change the collective perception of small historic centres is a political and cultural operation that participatory processes can help to revive by giving inhabitants a more complete picture of the in which place they live. By setting up URBACT Local Groups, and exchanging with other URBACT towns on the challenges of revitalising their historic centres, cities gain ideas and possible solutions not only to help manage, but also promote, their town centres.

    Though the history of a small centre cannot be changed, the trends and prospects for future development can be oriented to start again from an act of co-creation that makes people protagonists of the processes of change and management of their town centres. "No one owns the cities," said Jane Jacobs – and this is more true than ever in the centres, where collective action can lead to a collective re-appropriation of governance, in which everyone can have a decisive role. Making people proud to participate in the future development of their community also favours the visibility and attractiveness of small towns, the silent engine of a Europe that grows thanks to the vital and vibrant places that contribute original visions and practices in the time of big cities.

    From urbact
    Ref nid
  • Croatia earthquake: URBACT cities rally support for devastated Petrinja

    Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

    Find out how its former URBACT partner cities are supporting Petrinja at its time of need.

    Urban Renewal

    Since the central Croatian town of Petrinja was destroyed by a series of powerful earthquakes in December 2020, partner cities from the URBACT CityCentreDoctor network (2016-2018) have reacted quickly to send emergency support – more than two years after working together to revitalise their city centres.

    “URBACT created personal relationships between people from different towns and created a living network that has brought vital support at this difficult time,” said Petrinja resident Nina Ficur Feenan who has been helping with communications between her town and URBACT partners. “Such solidarity is a bright light during what has been a very dark crisis.”

    “The 6.4 magnitude earthquake on 29 December 2020 literally shook us from our foundations,” Nina said. “Seven people lost their lives on that day and one rescue worker also died later. Thousands lost their homes. The town does not exist anymore. Hospital, ER, schools, shops, banks, hairdressers, florists, cafes, restaurants, market, museums, cinema, boutiques, bakeries, butchers... it's all gone.”

    “Everything that makes a town is gone. It is hard to perceive that level of devastation.”

    Petrinja main square after the December 2020 earthquake.

    Small-city solidarity

    Despite the Covid-19 crisis, Petrinja’s former network partners – all small cities roughly the same size – reacted quickly with solidarity, practical support and funds. “They have a connection with Petrinja and have walked on our streets that have been devastated by the earthquakes and can, maybe, better understand the situation we are in,” said Nina.

    In the Irish city of Naas, Mayor Fintan Brett first heard about the quake on the CityCentreDoctor WhatsApp group where the 10 partner cities still share news, ideas and encouragement on their town centre improvements. He decided to take action. “What do we do? Just look at them? Or get up and do something?”

    With support from the Naas ‘town team’ – a continuation of the URBACT Local Group formed during the URBACT project – Fintan worked closely with Majella O’Keeffe of Naas Access Group to launch a gofundme appeal for Petrinja’s municipal council. Donors include Irish ambassador Ruaidhri Dowling, who is supporting efforts in Croatia. They also went a step further, mobilising hundreds of Naas residents and businesses to donate food, warm clothes, building materials and other items requested by Petrinja, including goods for people with disabilities. With logistics support from the council, volunteers packed these into a 45-foot container for shipping.

    Volunteer local truck driver Paul Kennedy transported the donated goods to Croatia in the last week of January.

    Daniele Terzariol, Deputy Mayor of San Donà di Piave, the Italian city that led the CityCentreDoctor network, also reacted quickly to the WhatsApp alert. Helped by the Italian National URBACT Point, he launched a fundraising appeal to all Italian cities in URBACT networks, past and present, encouraging them to send funds directly to the Municipality of Petrinja. His municipality also decided to make a donation, as did URBACT local partners in Heerlen (NL). Meanwhile, Radlin – a Polish city with a population of under 20,000 – also sent a shipment of goods.

    Daniele sees Petrinja as a ‘sister city’ that “needs the support of all of us in order to make the reconstruction and support of citizenship as fast as possible”. He said: “The earthquake that hit Petrinja caused the devastation of the city centre and neighbouring villages: as colleagues, friends and partners we cannot sit still without actively supporting the people who live in those places.”

    Lasting positive URBACT relations

    This welcome response in a time of crisis is just one example of how URBACT cities across Europe often keep up close links beyond the completion of their networks. CityCentreDoctor URBACT Expert Wessel Badenhorst attributes this lasting solidarity to the way URBACT guides cities to work together through an intensive two-year process, while leaving flexibility for meaningful personal connections to develop. He said: “This earthquake crisis is an example of how resilience can be gained from being part of a network that took two years of intensive development.”

    “Today we’re still all friends and we’re happy to keep our relationships strong and vital,” said Daniele. “URBACT networks and all the European projects are based on the values of solidarity and union and increase mutual knowledge based on common roots.”

    Badly damaged by war in the 1990s, as Petrinja sets out on a battle to rebuild yet again, Nina Ficur Feenan says: “We appreciate all the help and support we can get from our friends and partners as well as from strangers and friends we haven't met yet.”

    Interested to support Petrinja directly?  Find details of how to donate on the official city website.

    Cover photo by Nina Ficur Feenan on Flickr


    From urbact
    Ref nid
  • 5 URBACT lessons to improve Placemaking in your city

    Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

    From methodology to strategic planning and including a gender perspective, Jon Aguire Such shares the secrets of placemaking, URBACT style.


    How can we create great places in our cities? How can we make public spaces that are more dynamic, inclusive and safe? How can we develop community-led projects to make our neighbourhoods, squares and streets more liveable? The answer to all of these questions is: placemaking. During Placemaking Week Europe 2019, which took place June 12th to 15th at La Marina València, we explored ways to improve public spaces through collaborative design processes.

    Specifically, the Spanish National URBACT Point, in collaboration with our Italian counterparts, organised the workshop titled “From Placemaking to Citymaking” which focused on how URBACT networks and cities like Igualada (ES), San Donà di Piave (IT), San Sebastian (ES) and Medina del Campo (ES), all of which are boosting placemaking policies and improving public spaces. During that session we had the opportunity to dive deep into the lessons learned in RetaiLink and CityCentreDoctor URBACT Action Planning Networks, the Gender Equal Cities initiative and the PAM! project.

    Now, we bring you the five most relevant lessons we learned there.

    1. Develop effective participation through rigorous methodologies

    Placemaking is about building sustainable and creative places, strengthening communities and including diversity. The use of rigorous participatory methodologies is essential in order to obtain success in placemaking. Therefore, cities need to develop participation processes that are inclusive and top-notch. And of course, the results must be binding. A truly relevant participation process requires technical expertise and capacities for citizen’s engagement, as well as, means for communication. This implies establishing a wide range of participatory channels and spaces, from personal interviews with stakeholders to large public events. Moreover, defining an accompaniment strategy is essential for success.

    But, all these elements are worthless without a proper institutional framework and a clear political commitment. Local government representatives and civil servants must believe in citizen participation. If they don’t, the risk is that the old-fashioned ways of creating public spaces, with their characteristically closed and hierarchical apparatus, will kick in.

    2. Include a gender perspective

    The placemaking process that includes a gender equality perspective supports a more democratic practice to create safer, more inclusive and diverse public spaces. In this sense URBACT’s Gender Equal Cities initiative, coordinated by Sally Kneeshaw, who presented the URBACT programme during the workshop, shines a light on how cities are boosting profound changes through gender perspective. The report released in March offers a comprehensive analysis on how important it is to include transversal gender perspective in urban policies.

    In fact, the gender intersectional perspective also helps us to take into account other outlooks that can help to design superior public spaces. For example, in addition to paying attention to a gender perspective in order to create better equality in urban planning, the viewpoints shared by a diversity in age, socio-economical status, place of origin, and cultural diversity also enhance the placemaking process.

    3. Implement strategic planning

    As URBACT networks plentifully prove, integrated and participatory urban planning is the best way to start solving the problems of our cities. Placemaking also requires solid and strategic planning that combines long-term objectives (how do we want this place to be in the future?) with short-term actions (which quick wins can we reach easily?). But having a plan will not automatically solve the problems. It is just a first step in a long and exciting journey. After the plan, comes the implementation. In order to make our plan a reality, we need a time-line and of course, money. So, bear in mind, do not start designing a plan without foreseeing a specific budget to execute all of the proposed projects as well as to monitor and evaluate their implementation.

    4. Secure technical and political commitment and social support

    The key to securing wide-ranging social support rests on the involvement of stakeholders from the very start of the process and generating a solid atmosphere of trust and transparency. Without the community’s endorsement, it is extremely difficult for plans and projects to come to fruition. A committed, coordinated and responsible political agenda is fundamental, as well. It is important to set a clear and transparent working framework, define and communicate the legal limits, establishing who is responsible for the project, and to generate relationships of trust between the different stakeholders. But this is only possible with an attitude of empathy, an enormous desire to listen and understand other points of view, and a lot of talking and informal chats. And, of course, we must develop a close and reliable relationship with participants. Whatever we say or promise must be true and deliverable. Never create unreasonable expectations!

    5. Adopt co-innovation, co-creation and co-governance

    In order to design good placemaking plans and projects, adapted to the specific needs of a community, we must work through a transdisciplinary and multilevel perspective. But our approach to urban policy design must also be both horizontal and collaborative, enhancing bottom-up processes that gather citizens and relevant stakeholders. Moreover, it is crucial to share experiences, knowledge, learnings, achievements and frustrations to build up together innovative solutions and new management, monitoring and implementation procedures. All these elements lead us to collaborate, build successful placemaking projects and define new urban governance based on citizen co-responsibility.

    Come and join the co-urban revolution!

    More on URBACT Channels: From Placemaking to Placekeeping? and Gender Equality and Placemaking



    Placemaking is one of the most powerful tools that sustainable urban development relies on to improve our cities and public spaces. So, keep in mind, if there is something strange in your neighbourhood… who are you going to call ? Placemakers!

    From urbact
    Ref nid
  • How residents and businesses are re-energising their city centre

    Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

    Many in Heerlen (NL) wanted change, but didn’t know how to effect it. Following a wealth of inspiration, participation and activation through URBACT, things are now looking up.

    The challenge: revitalising Heerlen’s (NL) city centre


    Located in the far south-east of the Netherlands, close to the cities of Aachen and Maastricht, Heerlen was once a thriving centre for the coal mining industry — but suffered economically after the mines closed. The last few decades, however, have seen cultural sector investment and a growing service industry. Heerlen has been proactive in promoting urban revitalisation: in 2013, it set up Heerlen Mijn Stad (Heerlen My City), bringing various stakeholders together to work on improving the city’s attractiveness.

    Heerlen’s goal in joining the URBACT CityCentreDoctor Network was to transform ambition into action, and stimulate greater civic participation. In 2016, drawing members from Heerlen Mijn Stad, the city set up an URBACT Local Group and conducted a thorough place analysis and resident survey. They identified the city’s main challenges and aspirations: citizens felt there was no coherent, compact city centre of activity; vacant units were disliked; improved public realm and green meeting places were desired.

    The municipality together with local stakeholders developed 26 ambitions for change, including: transforming vacant real estate for creative industries; redesigning city squares; enhancing greenery; restoring building facades; supporting street art; enabling year-round public events; and investing in a ‘city lab’. The URBACT Local Group was involved in executing the 26 ambitions.

    Testing change with the Hotel Park Urbana

    With CityCentreDoctor’s support, Heerlen set up short-term prototypes, or beta actions, to test out potential features of its Integrated Action Plan. The most prominent was Hotel Park Urbana in summer 2017. The local group drew public space inspiration from CityCentreDoctor cities including Medina del Campo (ES), Nort-sur-Erdre (FR) and San Donà di Piave (IT), using Nort-sur-Erdre’s ideas market tool for project idea generation.

    Hotel Park Urbana was a free, open-air, pop-up hotel and park created in the city centre, on ‘de Vijf Pleintjes’ (the Five Squares). Coordinated by the URBACT Local Group, working with neighbouring businesses, the project drew crowds of people to enjoy extensive greenery, a restaurant, piano bar, nightclub, special tents to stay in, and a wellness spa. Feedback was so positive that an official foundation was formed to organise future activation of public spaces. Residents and businesses gave an ‘ambition document’ to the Alderman (Mayor), asking for more permanent greenery in de Vijf Pleintjes. The Alderman promised that improvements would be addressed and the design phase has now started.

    Evaluations show that Heerlen’s city centre has become greener since joining the CityCentreDoctor network — and more people are using public spaces. “This year we focus on possibilities for urban sports in the public space together with the young sporters” says Richard van Beek, Project Manager Urban Experience for Heerlen. Stakeholder engagement and participation has increased, as well as urban pride. Heerlen has presented its experiences at various conferences, and was labelled as an URBACT Good Practice for supporting street art. The challenge now is to maintain community momentum and political will, and secure funds. In addition to regular meetings, the local group plans to have annual inspirational trips to other cities.

    Learning from transnational city walks

    Visits to cities of the network were vital in informing ideas. “On every visit, we did city walks and looked at the nice things of the partner cities, but also confronted the challenges,” says Yvette Petit, City Centre Liaison for Heerlen Municipality, and URBACT Local Group Coordinator. “Together we were able to find guides for solutions.

    Heerlen learned from network partners like Amarante (PT) that greening public space can make cities both more lively and more climate-resilient. Medina del Campo (ES) gave Heerlen new ideas for hosting creative entrepreneurs in vacant buildings; as a result, 5 000 m2 of vacant real estate in Heerlen had been transformed for creative industries by the end of 2017.

    Partner cities’ visits to Heerlen also brought new insights. “The feedback that the visiting cities gave us was a great help in focus and creativity,” explains Douwe Dijkstra local group member, and Heerlen Mijn Stad Business Group Leader.


    Read Vitality of Smaller Cities Report

    Watch Vitality of Smaller Cities Video

    Discover Cities in Action - Stories of Change

    From urbact
    Ref nid