Urban regeneration; case study cluj-napoca Essay

Urban regeneration; case study Cluj-Napoca

Literature review

Urban areas are complex systems which are continuously changing, evolving for better or for worse. Towns and cities are prime generators of many changes as they are centers of political and social power. On top of the inner activity which makes the urban areas active and dynamic, the external forces which meet these areas, are also influencing and creating a need for the cities to adapt in order to stay fit to grow in all the needed areas. (Granger, 2016)

Urban regeneration is a natural response for urban degeneration, however this is not generally true. Urban regeneration can also be planned proactively as to avoid some declining industries or to improve the prospects of a neighborhood or a touristic central plaza etc. Urban regeneration is an answer to a specific problem or need. (Granger, 2016)

Throughout the history there were some major themes which dictated a natural reaction in developing strategies such as this. The urban issues and opportunities, the relationship between physical conditions and social response, the continuous need for the physical replacement of many elements of the urban features, the importance of a prosperous economy, the need to use the urban space as efficient as possible and to develop new urban projects in a sustainable way and the importance of recognizing and understanding that the urban policies are a mirror of the socio-political active powers and strings.

Urban regeneration is defined in the “Urban regeneration” book by its authors as a: “comprehensive and integrated vision and action which seeks to resolve urban problems and bring about a lasting improvement in the economic, physical, social and environmental condition of an area that has been subject to change or offers opportunities for improvement.” (Granger, 2016)

Principles of urban regeneration:

In the literature I found several principles which distinguish urban regeneration and enhances it:

o -be based on a detailed analysis on the condition of the said area

o -be focused on the simultaneous adaptation of the physical fabric, social structures, economic base and environmental conditions of said area;

o -attempt to achieve the simultaneous adaptation in a comprehensive and integrated strategy that deals with the problems in a positive and balanced manner

o -ensure that the strategy is developed having in mind a sustainable approach

o -align the regeneration strategy to other initiatives in the local area such as well-being activities or health

o -set clear operational, quantifiable objectives

o -make the best use of natural, economic, human and other resources available

o -seek partnership with other stakeholders with legitimate interest in the project

o -monitor your progress and set specific objectives

o -accept the likelihood that initial programs might need to be revised or changed due to not being relevant anymore (Granger, 2016)

All these principles were established after years of experience. Peter Roberts created a table of the evolution of urban regeneration until 1990. I am sure that urban regeneration has evolved a great deal since then but let’s just take a look on he major emphasis points and see if the essence more than the aesthetic of this has changed.

(Granger, 2016)

Same authors on a more up to date analysis created a comparative view of the key principles and purpose based on the evolution of urban regeneration. Following, a table on how the urban regeneration process should happen (Granger, 2016):

It is important to understand that urban regeneration can be layered in multiple styles. What we mean by this is that it can be easily tailored in an industry or other, as long as it helps that area catch cultural and economic life or prevents it from losing it. Urban regeneration is usually service oriented but has been made more appealing for the public eye with the help of culture, as a tool. (GARCIA, 2004 November)

An issue when speaking about urban regeneration, specifically cultural regeneration in the urban context, is the lack of policies. Bianchini (Franco Bianchini, 1993) identifies a range of dilemmas that are still relevant nowadays. These are ‘spatial dilemmas’ such as tensions between city center and periphery and the risk of gentrification; ‘economic development dilemmas’ such as that of encouraging consumption over production; and ‘cultural funding dilemmas’ in the choice to support ‘ephemeral’ activity such as events and festivals or ‘permanent’ activity such as infrastructures.

In Romania, urban regeneration focused a lot on the socialist buildings and constructions, one of the general needs being rehabilitation, modernization and renewal of the old buildings. Cleaner air and a sustainable development of all these constructions, residential and industrial is much needed and demanded. (Luca, 2009)

Although urban regeneration is a need that needs to be taken care of on a national level, in Romania the economical differences are huge between communities and geographic regions. Many times, the questions is if funds can be redirected into that area or not, but more importantly, is urban regeneration’s potential understood?

The planning of urban regeneration project is highly dependent on energetic environmental factors. This means that certain polluting industries must be re-localized as to address the environmental abuse. This means that the possible bad economic consequences need to be mitigated by planning and developing a plan with the stakeholders for an easy transition. (Luca, 2009)

“City structure is defined by the connections between the different elements within its urban activity, which can be competitive, complementary or auxiliary for the territory within the city. This structure has an order and in turn this order has a spatial character. In addition, this order responds to historical, cultural, social and economic influences and, thus, is expressed differently in different regions. Urban spatial structure indirectly responds to a set of needs, through its functional structure, and indirectly to a series of feelings taken into account from ethical, aesthetic, psychological and social point of view. The pressure of globalization, which includes a multitude of complex processes with a variable dynamic, becomes a factor in accelerating the expansion of the city, nowadays there are at least four differences compared to previous processes of city development. Firstly, urban regeneration process operates at a higher speed than in the past. Improved technologies enable the transport of goods and people more quickly, and almost instantaneous transmission of information. Secondly globalization operates at a much larger scale, few people being unaffected by this process. Thirdly, global connections purpose is general and has many dimensions (economic, technological, political, legal, social, cultural) each of these dimensions having another characteristic. Fourthly, the dynamic and immediate interaction of many global actors have given rise to a new level of complexity of the relationships between policy and practice. Now we are in a different phase, in which stands out two territorial characteristics: extensive use of land within the city and increased mobility of the population due to both dispersion and activities within spatial structures.” (MOȚCANU-DUMITRESCU, 2016)

Daniel Dranca in a study on metropolitan area focused on urban regeneration (Dranca, 2013) discusses the Regional Operation Program in Romania and more specific in Cluj Napoca. The author discusses the concept of a growth poll. The Romanian Regional Operational Program (ROP) was approved by the European Commission Decision no. 3470 from 12 July 2007. By adopting this decision, a polycentric urban network was created which is supposed to aim for a balanced territorial development and lower inter-regional disparities. In 2008, this decision was updated, and thirteen urban development poles were planned to be set up - Arad, Baia-Mare, Bacău, Brăila, Galaţi, Deva, Oradea, Piteşti, Râmnicu-Vâlcea, Satu-Mare, Sibiu, Suceava and Târgu-Mureş and seven national growth poles. These cities were chosen in order to attenuate the migration towards the growth poles and to bring a balance by demographic, economic and spatial equilibrium of the region. At the same time, the urban development poles were designated to act as a linkage between the growth poles and a third category of towns, the urban centers (towns of 10",000 inhabitants and over, others than growth poles or development poles). (MOȚCANU-DUMITRESCU, 2016)

According to the Government Decision Reasoning Note no. 998/2008, the seven growth poles and the thirteen urban development poles were selected based on the following criteria (MOȚCANU-DUMITRESCU, 2016):

 the level of functional specialization;

 innovation capacity;

 existing business infrastructure;

 the level of diversity and intensity of the connections between regional and local actors;

 accessibility and public services

Cluj-Napoca was set to be a growth pole. For this to happen in 2008 Cluj-Napoca Metropolitan Association was created, while the Integrated Plan 57 for Urban Development (IPUD) was approved by its 19 members (17 villages, Cluj-Napoca municipality and Cluj County) during the year 2009. (MOȚCANU-DUMITRESCU, 2016) The major areas of interest are:

 Rehabilitation of the urban infrastructure and improvement of urban services, including urban transportation

 Development of sustainable business environment

 Rehabilitation of social infrastructure, including social housing and the improvement of social services

What Cluj-Napoca has done until the moment of the analysis is a promise and a nice view of what will happen in the next few years. Unfortunately, I was unable to find more up to date information. However, I don’t think the name of the projects is important but the general nature of it.

 Rehabilitation of Urban Infrastructure:

1. The rehabilitation of the tramway line;

2. The rehabilitation of the Central Park and Casino Building;

3. Modernization and extension of public transport network in CMZ – first

4. phase Cluj-Napoca, Apahida, Baciu, Chinteni, Floreşti; and

5. Self-service stations for bicycle renting (50 stations).

Cazino before rehabilitation – Cluj Napoca source: (http://www.adrnord-vest.ro/galerie-foto/Restaurarea-ansamblului-monument-istoric-parcul-central-Simion-Barnutiu-si-Cazino-din-Municipiul-Cluj--eID1110.html)

The new rehabilitated Casino – Cluj-Napoca source: http://www.adrnord-vest.ro/galerie-foto/Restaurarea-ansamblului-monument-istoric-parcul-central-Simion-Barnutiu-si-Cazino-din-Municipiul-Cluj--eID1110.html

 Development of Sustainable Business Environment

1. The treasure City – promoting tourism in Cluj-Napoca; and

2. Regional center for creative industries.

 Rehabilitation of Social Infrastructure

1. Quality social housing – Albac 21 (24 social apartments);

2. Integrated social houses for the community – Iuliu Coroianu Street; and

3. Multifunctional center for integrated social services ‘Wonderland’.

Other notable projects in the rehabilitation and especially urban regeneration are:

Rehabilitation of the Central Square – Piata Unirii

Central square graphical image of Piata Unirii, source http://gazetadecluj.ro/clujenii-de-la-planwerk-au-castigat-lucrarile-de-proiectare-din-centrul-municipiului-bistritai/

Piata Unirii after rehabilitation; source https://www.digi24.ro/regional/digi24-oradea/traficul-auto-inchis-in-centrul-oradei-interdictia-se-aplica-in-fiecare-weekend-748249

Further projects can be found on the municipal website or on the official documents issued by the municipality. To have a better understanding how the urban regeneration is planned and what are the key points followed in the research and documentation part, we will study how urban regeneration on str.Mogosoaia-str Almasului and the parking construction on str Mogosoaia no.9.

The plan is designed to incorporate a big area constructed in the communist era. It is supposed to regenerate the buildings, bring new businesses in the area, create more spaces for recreation and a safer and livelier environment for the area’s inhabitants.

The holistic view incorporates two big areas which should be compiled by several zones U.T.R. Lc_A_R – residential area build before 1990 which needs to be regenerated and U.T.R. Va_R – green public area which host building with a different purpose that the area.

The key urbanistic indexes found for all the zones are as follow. Since this is just for display purpose, the values are not applying to all the areas.

-prevailing function: collective homes and upgrades of the existing buildings

-urban indexes: the maximum POT (percentage of the occupied area) will be regulated by RGU (urban general regulations) or specific norms for the architectural plan whiteout exceeding

- for common parcels: POT max= 60%, CUT(utilized area coefficient) max. =2",2

-for corner parcels: POT MAX= 75%, cut MAX 2",8

-withdrawal from alignment, withdrawal from the posterior and lateral margins, the maximum admitted height

-circulation; street profiles

Primaverii street – profile

Ion Mester street, Mogosoaia street, Almasului

Emil Cioran street

-access; from Emil Cioran street and Mogosoaia street for the zone S_P

-Stationary cars – in specialized spaces in basement and ground

-parking equipped with a technical team

U.T.R. Lc_A_R parking zone is planned to have 4 specialized subzones: S_P, S_Et, S_Va, S_Is.All the key urbanistic indexes used are the same with the ones already explained above for the sake of the example, will only describe the function.

S_P zone: predominant function: parking buildings

S_Et zone: exclusively for tertiary economic purposes: administrative, banking- financial, commercial with ADC of 1000 mp max, public markets, services, manufacturing, science research, cultural and medical services.

S_Va zone: green public area situated in areas with a different nature (not in the parking area): alley system and platforms for pedestrians and biking, urban furniture, playgrounds, rest, sports and other activities etc.

S_Is zone – services and institutions of public interest – churches

The U.T.R. Va_R has as purpose relaxation in nature, planning to create parks with unlimited access and gardens are planned. Obviously, the predominant function is recreation.

The viability period for the documentation is 5 years, the document was created in 16/10/2017.

(Napoca, 2017)

Looking at the way the project was created to revitalize the area, we can say that it successfully complies with the principles exhibited at the beginning of this paper.

o -be based on a detailed analysis on the condition of the said area – a study on the area has been done before making the plans

o -be focused on the simultaneous adaptation of the physical fabric, social structures, economic base and environmental conditions of said area; - the program aims at improving the quality of life by creating new green spaces, rehabilitate old buildings, create new commercial spaces and clear the streets of the old huts in which the cars were parked

o -attempt to achieve the simultaneous adaptation in a comprehensive and integrated strategy that deals with the problems in a positive and balanced manner – the main issue the inhabitants from the area have is how crowded the streets are because of the old garages; the program plans getting rid of them and offers an alternative solution by creating a shared parking lot with commercial spaces; not stopping here, the programs aims to rehabilitate the hole area by improving the air quality by creating parks and gardens.

o -ensure that the strategy is developed having in mind a sustainable approach – I am not sure what are the materials used in the creation of the parking lot, but I’m sure that by rehabilitating the old building and improving the green space, the neighborhood life is revitalized on the long term and in a non-harmful way for the environment.

o -align the regeneration strategy to other initiatives in the local area such as well-being activities or health – the parking lot should also host commercial spaces, clinical cabinets, banks etc.

o -set clear operational, quantifiable objectives – the plan was split in categories and zones with specific functions and purposes

o -make the best use of natural, economic, human and other resources available – already stressed this above

o -seek partnership with other stakeholders with legitimate interest in the project – the city hall involved the representatives of the area, a technical committee; a construction firm Marbo Construct Consult

o -monitor your progress and set specific objectives – probably happening as this is being paid by the beneficiary party

o -accept the likelihood that initial programs might need to be revised or changed due to not being relevant anymore – I think the implementation period is too small to worry about this.


Dranca, D. (2013). CLUJ-NAPOCA METROPOLITAN. Transylvanian Review of Administrative Sciences No. 40 E/2013, , pp. 49-70.

Franco Bianchini, M. P. (1993). Cultural Policy and Urban Regeneration: the West European Experience. New York: Manchester University Press.

GARCIA, B. (2004 November). Cultural Policy and Urban Regeneration in Western European Cities: Lessons from Experience, Prospects for the Future. Local Economy, Vol 19, No. 4, 312-326.

Granger, P. R. (2016). Urban Regeneration. Sage.

Luca, O. (2009). URBAN REGENERATION PROCESS IN ROMANIA. Theoretical and Empirical Researches in Urban Management, Number 1(10)/2009, 136-143.


Napoca, C. L. (2017). Hotarare privind aprobarea P.U.Z. de regenerare urbana - etapa 1, str. Mogosoaia- str. Almasului si P.U.D. pentru construire parking 2S+P, str. Mogosoaia nr. 9. Cluj Napoca: Consiliu Local al Municipiului Cluj Napoca.

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