The lead partner of the project is Co-PLAN, Institute for Habitat Development from Tirana, Albania | while other partners are: the Coalition for Sustainable Development (CSD) from Skoplje, Macedonia; EXPEDITIO from Kotor, Montenegro and Polis University (International School of Architecture and Urban Development Policies from Tirana, Albania.
The project will last for two years, until December 2012.
The project is funded by the Swiss Cultural Programme in the Western Balkans (CSP) under the Regional Cooperation Projects programme line.
City Squares in Balkan Cities - Background
City squares, as places for democratic and cultural expression in contemporary cities and focal points for civil and social relations, are a vital stimulus to entrepreneurship and development of the cities.
With this in mind, the project “Revival of City Squares in Balkan Cities” seeks to meaningfully add a share towards creating solid bridges between various actors and facilitate a community-based process that engages a full range of local stakeholders (citizens, professionals, policy makers), and brings people with diverse ideas into dialogue in an inclusive process that produces workable recommendations with significant impacts. As its overall goal, our project aims to contribute to revival of city squares as viable public places that foster cultural identity and promote diversity through enforcement of public policies and active community participation. The action intends to achieve two major specific objectives: to promote national and regional policy discourse on how city squares can be transformed into pulsating community places (indeed, knowledge dissemination is the first step towards introducing new ideas and approaches) and develop a platform for transforming open public spaces into vibrant places that serve community needs.
The aim of the project
As its overall goal, the project “Revival of City Squares in Balkan Cities” aims to contribute to the revival of city squares as viable public places that foster cultural identity and promote diversity through enforcement of public policies and active community participation. The action intends to achieve two major specific objectives: to promote national and regional policy discourse on how city squares can be transformed into pulsating community places and develop a platform for transforming open public spaces into vibrant places that serve community needs.
As the final result, the project should provide policy makers and local officials with tools on how to carry out city square transformation process collaborating with the community.
The main activities envisaged with the project are designed to create an overall framework that encompasses elements of systematic approach:
- Examination and analyses of the current use of city squares in 4 cities: Tirana, Durres, Kotor and Skopje and an assessment of potentials for their transformation, through a Survey and a Comparative analysis
- Three Regional workshops for students and young professionals, including architects, spatial planners, artists, etc., one in each of the partners’ counties.
- Consultative process on validation and support of guidelines with the key stakeholders (including public officials, segments of civil society and citizens) through meetings and round tables
- Elaboration of a set of viable guidelines on city square transformation
- Development of local policy documents on city square transformation
- Mapping and networking with organizations/actors that operate nationally or/and in the Balkan region
- Dissemination of practices and knowledge gained in pushing actions forward for the transformation of city squares, through
Kick off meeting of the project in Tirana-Local websites on revival of city squares
-Project/event pages on interactive social platforms
-Articles in the Forum A+P
-Publication “Roadmap for Liveable Cities”
-Regional Closing Conference
The project started with a kick off meeting organized at Polis University in Tirana, on 17th and 18th of February 2011, where the representatives of all the involved organizations took part. During the two days of the meeting the partners agreed on the details and de
fined a plan for the project activities implementation.
Project visual identity
The logo born in fact from the union of two bodies, a man and a woman that together set a space of sharing, crossed by three lines, three as the organizations involved in the project (considering Co-Plan and POLIS University as one), that cross the space, born from the union of the bodies, in three different directions, sign of our will to actively involve the inhabitants in our work of location and re-thinking of the public space.
The logo was designed by U Polis / Co-Plan.
Project page on local websites, Facebook and blog
Information about the project “Revival of City Squares in Balkan Cities” is placed on local websites of the project partners, where the information about the project in both local and English language will be regularly updated:-Co-plan
-Expeditio http://www.expeditio.org/ in Montenegrin and English
Furthermore, in order to reach a wider audience, the project uses popular social networks on the Internet to publish information about its activities and events.
The Blog address of the project “Revival of City Squares in Balkan Cities” is
The project has its own Facebook group
Survey about the current use of city squares in 4 cities: Tirana, Durres, Kotor and Skopje and an assessment of potentials for their transformation.
The survey, designed to “check the pulse” of citizens and other relevant stakeholders and identify the significance, role and gaps in the use of city squares, is carried out in 4 cities: Tirana, Durres, Kotor and Skopje. Besides its main purpose to gather information on how public places are used, this activity will also serve to understanding the way how people want to use public spaces. The survey findings will be analysed and used as one of crucial inputs for all further activities and as valuable input in proposing the guidelines.
As a method to reach the community a questionnaire has been developed for this purpose. The partners together defined the key issues and topics that should be treated through the questionnaire and then a sociologist was engaged to complete the model.
For the local use, the questionnaire was translated into Albanian, Macedonian and Montenegrin, and distributed in Tirana, Durres, Kotor and Skopje. The questionnaire in English could be found here.
In Tirana and Durres, Co-Plan and POLIS University worked with the students from POLIS University. In Kotor, besides a field survey, the questionnaire has been placed on-line, and in that way made accessible to a wider target group. In Skopje, the initial feedback indicated a very positive response of those that took part in the survey (“Very good idea!”, “I’ve never thought about my favourite place in such a way before”).
So far, a large number of questionnaires has been distributed in Tirana and Durres (about 500), Skopje (about 400-500) and Kotor (about 300). The survey is still in progress, and the results will be available soon.
Research – a comparative analysis of city squares in 4 cities: Tirana, Durres, Kotor and Skoplje
In order to provide the basis for proposing possible solutions, the project envisages carrying out a comparative analysis of the city squares of Tirana, Durres, Skopje and Kotor and their importance as vectors for cultural and democratic expression and a vital stimulus to development processes.
The current understanding of the role of city squares is really insufficient. This comparative study and documentation will form the basis for the local debates, an input to the regional workshops, the base for proposing workable solutions and support to the national and regional policy discourse on how city squares can be transformed into vibrant community places.
At the start of the project, the approach and methodology for the research have been defined, and this activity envisages: desk review, data collection and information analysis, and preparation of draft research reports.
- Some of the issues that will be treated through the research will be:
- Historical use
- Urban/architectural/spatial characteristics /morphology and typology
- Functional characteristics
- Social issues /events, target groups, seasonal usage, …/
The research and comparative analysis could be used later on as a model for other cities in the Balkans.
Mapping and networking with organizations/ actors that operate nationally or/and in the Balkan region
This project uses participative approaches and partnerships to build on the already reached achievements in each of the partners’ countries and to secure active involvement of all relevant stakeholders. In order to strenghten a cross-sectoral aliance with other relevant organizations and actors that operate both nationaly and in the Balkan region, the project partners pay special attention to identyfinig potential local organizations/actors that have already worked in the same field and can potentially contribute to this topic. The project team has already started contacting organizations/actors and making a database. An effort will be made to invite representatives of the identified organizations/actors to participate in some of the project activities (workshops, round tabels and forums, the Closing Conference) as well as to join the City Square Rivaval platform.
We would like to invite all of you who are already working in the areas related to city squares and public spaces, their transformation and public participation, or who would like to work in this field, or have any ideas, comments or suggestions regarding the revival of city squares to contact us and share your thoughts with us.
(We would be happy if we could establish a valuable database (platform) for the Revival of City Squares in Balkan cities.)
This will help us to create a valuable database (platform) for the Revival of City Squares in Balkan cities.
The upcoming activities:
Different activities and performances presenting reflections on the areas investigated in the chosen cities
Regional workshops for students and young professionals in Tirana, Durres, Kotor and Skopje
With aim to stimulate regional exchange of ideas regarding the discourse on city squares/ public spaces and how they can be transformed into vibrant community places that meet community cultural, social and economic needs and foster new perspective and awareness, so that the idea of "city culture" (the way people think about public spaces and conceive them) can be developed, the project envisages realisation of a week of creative Workshops, one in each of the partner’s counties, for students and young people including architects, spatial planners, artists, designers, sociologists, etc. Young people are our future. Yet, practice shows that many of them feel that they have little or no influence in decisions about their city. Young people, (especially future professionals), must be fully involved in place making and policy-making if they are going to value, respect and take ownership of the spaces and places around them. The objective of these regional workshops is to stimulate young people to voice their ideas, aspirations and solutions for open public spaces and city squares and to inspire them to take an active role in future development of urban and cultural policies, both locally and on a wider regional level. The Workshops are planned to reflect the regional dimension, and stimulate exchange of fresh ideas, so essential for this project.
The workshops will be organised in each of the partners’ counties:
- The first workshop will be held in the second half of July in Tirana and Durres, Albania, on 18-24 July 2011
- The second workshop will be held at the end of August and beginning of September in Kotor, Montenegro, from 29 August to 4 September 2011
- The final workshop will be held in October in Skopje, Macedonia, on 10-17 October 2011
The themes and topics of each workshop will be based on the findings from the surveys (vox populi) conducted in each of the partners’ countries /cities in focus (Skopje, Tirana/Dures, Kotor).
- Shutina, overall project coordinator, Ova adresa el.pošte zaštićena je od spam napada, treba omogućiti JavaSkript da biste je vidjeli
- Stefano Romano, project coordinator for Albania, Ova adresa el.pošte zaštićena je od spam napada, treba omogućiti JavaSkript da biste je vidjeli
- Sonja Damchevska, project coordinator for Macedonia, Ova adresa el.pošte zaštićena je od spam napada, treba omogućiti JavaSkript da biste je vidjeli
- Aleksandra Kapetanović, project coordinator for Montenegro, Ova adresa el.pošte zaštićena je od spam napada, treba omogućiti JavaSkript da biste je vidjeli
Co-PLAN Institute for Habitat Development |www.co-plan.org|
Coalition for Sustainable Development – CSD |www.kor-csd.org|