Stockholm on the Move

Ideas, visions and challenges for a city in transition


- Field visits along the river banks and islets, to parks and to the historic district, followed by seminars and workshop.



NUT Tbilisi Forum 2019 was funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the initiative of the Swedish Embassy in Tbilisi and in collaboration with the Faculty of Technology at Caucasian University and the Project ArtBeat.

Tbilisi, an ancient city at a crossroad, a cultural melting pot, victim of numerous invasions and conquest but with a strong identity and amazing development since the independence 20 years ago. The “soul” of the city was discussed as a starting point of the seminar; not only the old city centre with its historical buildings were mentioned; emphasis was rather on the immaterial cultural heritage; songs, dances, legends, customs, popular traditions – not to forget the dreams for the future of the young ones.

The city is plagued with very heavy traffic and an unusually brutal “traffic culture”. The effect is that the elderly and disabled become more or less excluded from the public space.
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After the breakdown of the Soviet Union, Georgia and its capital experienced a civil war for two weeks. Later on, mafia clans have from time to time engaged in armed fights with each other. In November 2019 there were for weeks on end demonstrations outside Parliament in favour of an amendment of the Election Law. The Swedish film And Then We Danced in which a young man seeks his sexual identity has caused strong reactions from the Orthodox church and other conservative groups.
Despite considerable improvements there is still a distrust of politics but a great engagement to keep the unique character of Tbilisi. This is however in conflict with former politicians and oligarchs who for example are trying to construct a private cable car line across the central parts of the city. Despite all this, Tbilisi is the stage for many interesting and exciting initiatives with cultural hubs in former industrial buildings. The city architecture is a fascinating encounter of styles and cultural influences, from neo classicism, to Byzantine, Art Noveau and Soviet modernism.

The river Mitkvari is the artery of Tbilisi. Along the riverside a highway was built during the Soviet time, closing off access to the river for the inhabitants. The riverbanks were coated in granite. The last public space by the river was occupied in the 2010’s by the new Palace of Justice. Now the Mitkvari should be re-invigorated for the purpose of tourist transport. Recreational areas could be created where still no granite foundations have been erected. A new park is in fact planned on a rivers island in the North. But, it was thought, there is a lack of collegiality between the city authorities, business and the citizens. A leading architect of the recently adopted general plan argued that the green areas “have been eaten”, that “nature has been expelled” and that “the nature must be called back”.

On cultural life and of communication between citizens and government, the old Melik Azariants house was quoted as an example of a multifunctional space, an example of “co-existence” between theatre, a photo school, pantomime, gallery etc. The example should be copied in other parts of the city. Also, public art projects should be encouraged in this contextSeveral speakers underlined the necessity to ask the citizens about their needs and wishes. An idea would be to establish a digital platform for the general public, the government and all stakeholders in city planning. We were informed that SKL – Sveriges Kommuner och Landsting – had been running a communications project with the Tbilisi city administration, but that the project had come to a standstill, with the ball currently in the city’s court. However, a key issue would be to see how the findings of the views of the public would relate to the plans and measures launched by the administration. A “consultation app” was suggested.

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A city tour took us to the yet unexploited riverbanks and islets, to parks and to the historical district. Three working groups were established on:

- Inclusive street design for a walkable city.
- Green corridors for access to the river.
- Participatory urban planning and tools for communication.

One working group focused on the traffic bottlenecks created by the extension of the city along the waterway, hemmed in as it is by mountains on both sides. The group suggested that then the river itself be used for transport, e.g. by water busses, by constructing cable car lines and a funicular. To these measures, bike lanes, green areas and special provisions for the elderly or disabled should be added.

Another group suggested the building of one or more cultural hubs with institutions and activities upstream where nature is less exploited, likewise the transformation of derelict former industrial areas into recreation zones. Anything from sports arenas to kitchen gardens could be accommodated within such zones.
All stressed the importance of finding out what the inhabitants want.

This was the first phase of a two-year project aiming to examine issues which will be further developed first with a study visit to Sweden in the spring of 2020 and then with continued work with key actors in Tbilisi in the autumn.


- Between the rural and urban. A programme designed by Färgfabriken and Bengal Institute for Architecture, Landscape and Settlements.

  • View from the river Bongshi, that flows past the city Savar. Photo av Suvra Kanti Das, 2019

    View from the river Bongshi, that flows past the city Savar. Photo av Suvra Kanti Das, 2019

  • View from the river Bongshi, that flows past the city Savar. Photo av Suvra Kanti Das, 2019

    View from the river Bongshi, that flows past the city Savar. Photo av Suvra Kanti Das, 2019

  • View from the river Bongshi, that flows past the city Savar. Photo av Suvra Kanti Das, 2019

    View from the river Bongshi, that flows past the city Savar. Photo av Suvra Kanti Das, 2019

  • View from the river Bongshi, that flows past the city Savar. Photo av Suvra Kanti Das, 2019

    View from the river Bongshi, that flows past the city Savar. Photo av Suvra Kanti Das, 2019

  • View from the river Bongshi, that flows past the city Savar. Photo av Suvra Kanti Das, 2019

    View from the river Bongshi, that flows past the city Savar. Photo av Suvra Kanti Das, 2019

  • View from the river Bongshi, that flows past the city Savar. Photo av Suvra Kanti Das, 2019

    View from the river Bongshi, that flows past the city Savar. Photo av Suvra Kanti Das, 2019

  • View from the river Bongshi, that flows past the city Savar. Photo av Suvra Kanti Das, 2019

    View from the river Bongshi, that flows past the city Savar. Photo av Suvra Kanti Das, 2019


    NUT Dhaka Session was conducted and carried out in collaboration with Bengal Institute of Architecture, Landscape and Settlements. The programme consisted of a field excursion to the Bongshi River and the city Savar, outside of Dhaka, followed by two days research work at Bengal Institute in Dhaka. The project is funded by the Swedish Institute.

    In Bangladesh, a country with a landscape dominated by the delta, a population of approximately 164 million and a capital rapidly approaching 18 million, many of the most crucial issues of our time are being put to the test. Dhaka’s extensive urbanisation is directly linked to global warming, as demonstrated by the country’s increasingly violent monsoon rains and rising sea levels that are devouring its delta and coastal strips. At the same time, Bangladesh is a country rich in diversity and culture. Being in the frontline of global change is leading to a rapid and dynamic development in its architecture and culture. 

    NUT Dhaka Sessions 2019 sought to investigate the connections between rurality and planetary urbanisation. In what ways can we see traces of planetary urbanisation in the rural landscapes of Bangladesh? And how can these rural landscapes survive alongside the ever-expanding mega city of Dhaka?

    The relevance of these questions extends beyond Dhaka and Bangladesh, being pertinent to growing cities on a global scale. What kind of a relationship between the rural and the urban is desirable? And how can we activate these questions?

    • NUT-workshop at Bengal Institute in Dhaka. Photo by Suvra Kanti Das, 2019

      NUT-workshop at Bengal Institute in Dhaka. Photo by Suvra Kanti Das, 2019

    • NUT-workshop at Bengal Institute in Dhaka. Photo by Suvra Kanti Das, 2019

      NUT-workshop at Bengal Institute in Dhaka. Photo by Suvra Kanti Das, 2019

    • NUT-workshop at Bengal Institute in Dhaka. Photo by Suvra Kanti Das, 2019

      NUT-workshop at Bengal Institute in Dhaka. Photo by Suvra Kanti Das, 2019

    • NUT-workshop at Bengal Institute in Dhaka. Photo by Suvra Kanti Das, 2019

      NUT-workshop at Bengal Institute in Dhaka. Photo by Suvra Kanti Das, 2019

    • NUT-workshop, at Arcadia school, Alipur near Savar. Photo by Suvra Kanti Das, 2019

      NUT-workshop, at Arcadia school, Alipur near Savar. Photo by Suvra Kanti Das, 2019

    • NUT-workshop at Bengal Institute in Dhaka. Photo by Suvra Kanti Das, 2019

      NUT-workshop at Bengal Institute in Dhaka. Photo by Suvra Kanti Das, 2019

      Identifying symbiotic strategies to prevent the negative development of Savar:

      The NUT Dhaka session 2019 created a transdisciplinary methodology for the purpose of identifying local challenges within global parameters. In our analysis of Savar and its main sustainability challenges, the programme came up with five themes for a sustainable future. The themes consider the area’s environmental, site-specific, social and cultural characteristics. The themes have enabled the programme to develop various interconnected strategies to stop Savar being devoured by Dhaka and succumbing to its dense urban structure.

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      The themes:

      1. Between locality and planetary urbanisation:
      Investigate the connections between rurality and planetary urbanisation: in what ways can we see traces of planetary urbanisation in the rural landscapes of Bangladesh? Can these rural landscapes survive alongside the ever-expanding mega city of Dhaka?
      2. Regenerative Savar:
      Today the city of Savar is experiencing dramatic urban growth reminiscent of when Dhaka began its own accelerated growth in the 70s. Can Savar avoid the same fate? What kind of design and policy thinking is needed to develop a regenerative Savar?
      3. Thinking about the delta:
      What kind of knowledge has been and continues to be produced in the delta landscape? In what ways do we see an architecture of metamorphosis in the delta? Do we see an architecture and use of space that adapts and transforms along with the transformation of the delta?
      4. Elements of land and water:
      What are the ecological characteristics of these landscapes and waterscapes? Why is it necessary to document them and incorporate them into spatial design?
      5. The scales of hinterlands:
      Mapping and developing the different scales of hinterlands in relation to Savar and its surrounding delta landscapes: can we provide a wider way of thinking that disconnects from the centrum-periphery way of imagining and designing space?

      By applying a situated analysis and recording Savar’s local characteristics and systems according to the five themes, the project produced several outcomes, ranging from the importance of a local culture and local knowledge production that are closely related to the river system to waste management as a potential source of energy and educational campaigns that target local decision-makers and citizens.

      NUT Cambodia

      – Regional Urban Forum

        After the NUT program in Indonesia and Myanmar, Färgfabriken got the opportunity and resources to implement a program also in Cambodia, in cooperation with HEINRICH BÖLL STIFTUNG. The purpose is to create a network in the region for exchanges in culture, architecture, urban planning and issues related to human rights.

        Cambodia has been one of the world's poorest countries, but GDP has now risen for a number of years, though in rural areas poverty remains high. Respect for human rights has long been a problem in the country.

        Due to the political situation in which many organizations working on human rights issues have been harassed by the authorities, Färgfabriken chose to organize a first NUT as a regional conference in Bangkok, Thailand on March 23-24, 2018, with participants from Cambodia, Myanmar, Indonesia and Thailand. A second meeting took place in the idyllic coastal town of Kep in Cambodia in November 16-17, 2018. Both times, several representatives of Cambodian human rights organizations, as well as architects and organizations with experience of working processes involving citizens and civil society, participated. Due to the sensitive situation in the country and given the participants, we have chosen not to post names and pictures of the participants.

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        Below a few quotes from participants in workshop and seminar in Kep, Cambodia:

        "Trash treatment is an example of a specific issue that could be used to integrate architecture and urban problems. Lessons learned are to include problems of flooding, access to housing areas and transport roads in trash treatment plans. Advocacy to build infrastructure. Training of residents in trash handling and on land titles. Note that people follow rules only if the rules are convenient for them so any system of trash disposal should be practical and easily accessible. Inform about various kinds of trash. Trash can be reused e g in crafts. This can also generate income. The Initiative should come from the community or else it will not work. Try to set up a pilot project to inspire others. One organization had already developed a trash report app. All trash that cannot be recycled should be collected and NGOs can help arrange that with City Hall and a collection company. Architects can design solutions such as trash bins and access paths. Build with local materiel instead of imported and make sure it is not toxic but is down breakable. Artists can help by illustrating trash handling.”

        "Common interests were urban housing rights and involving residents in arts as a tool in urban planning. It was noted that poor communities are victims of excess trash from wealthier communities and construction. Severe lack of public space in poorer areas. NGOs should identify issues while architects could work on improvements, e. g, on public space. Form teams with artists, architects and NGOs to work together. Artists can also be tasked to convey urban issues to the public. The teams can raise issues and bring them to the public and explain them, but are not necessarily the problem solvers.

        Involve artists in social issues, including writers and photographers to connect people through cultural programs which also contain social issues. Youth and children should be included. Art can deliver reminders of the cultural heritage and history of the city To encourage the three A:s (artists, architects, activists) to engage together why not arrange a fair! But individual persuasion is also necessary.”

        "Our questions on NUT are;
        - How we can connect with each other except at meetings. We should implement a more real and integrated form of practical collaboration to discuss answer some questions that have been put during and after NUT with our partners and friends in the network.

        - In which part of the South East Asian region could we share knowledge and create a sustainable platform concerned with working and creating something together from different disciplines in our region or perhaps with the NUT network?"

        support from

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        IN collaboration with

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        Yangon Downside Up! By New Urban Topologies

        This program featured multiple sites and discussions, a workshop, street fair and partnerships with some of the cities most exciting and influential organizations like Doh Eain, Bikes in Yangon, and more.
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        Guests from Phnom Penh came to Yangon to share their own experiences working in an ever changing city, and joned New Urban Topologies for an exciting series of discussions, meals, activities and presentations. Let’s Change Yangon for the better with the interest of citizens at its core!

        Car-free Bank Street Fair: Re-imagining Yangon's Streets

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        Doh Eain, the Yangon Heritage Trust and New Urban Topologies present:
        Car-Free Bank Street Fair: Reimagining Yangon's Streets is a half day fair on December 9 to engage residents, street users and the broader Yangon community in re-imagining Bank Street and explore urban issues and solutions more broadly. Guests could join fun activities to promote open and welcoming city streets for public use! The program featured exhibitions, skate boarding performances, BMX performances, biking, street art, creative urban design workshops, a giant chess game, table tennis and much more! In anticipation of ongoing redesign activities of Bank Street, various new lay-out designs and prototypes for urban furniture was also presented.

        Supported by the Heritage Kempinski Hotel and Fargfabriken

        Read more about this in Myanmar Times.


        The Ukrainian Puzzle is a three-year project by Färgfabriken, within the program New Urban Topologies, and local partners in Ukraine, comprising seminars in four cities; Kharkiv, Ternopil, Poltava and Odessa resulting in a travelling exhibition to three of these cities. The touring exhibition was created at the initiative of our Ukrainian partners. Consisting of video films, still pictures and numerous notes and records from the four seminars, the Ukrainian Puzzle exhibition aimed to document the lessons learned from the whole program and to propose guidelines for a future discussion of urban issues. The travelling exhibition was complemented by workshops and events about urban issues of special local interest.
        The Ukrainian Puzzle has crystallized a number of key issues relevant to urban development in Ukraine, concerning transparency and communication between authorities and civil society as well ass competence building and networking within civil society.
        There are differences between the cities, and particularly between the eastern and western part of the country. But urban issues are similar throughout the country as are the solutions
        argued by young people. Changed attitudes within the administration will be a slow process, but the willingness to at least lend an ear to the views of civil society has improved. The relations with civil society now range all the way from listening without cooperating via considering civil society proposals to approving them but without contributing to their budget.

        A considerable number of civil society organizations dealing with urban and democratic issues have been established during the past three years, sometimes as a direct result of New Urban Topoogies/The Ukrainian Puzzle. The Puzzle exhibition itself has further strengthened the network between Ukrainian sister organizations, and an informal national network has emerged.


        The Ukrainian Puzzle

        - New Urban Topologies in Odessa, September 2016


        Vasilisa Shchogoleva and Bohdan Volynskyi from Critical Thinking introduces the Odessa sessions.

         "The Ukrainian Puzzle" is a series of NUT seminars in Ukraine, focusing not only on the specific cities but also aiming at portraying the situation in a large country with a complicated history and geopolitical situation, connecting people and ideas across between the east, west, north and south (Kharkiv, Ternopil, Poltava, Odessa). Focusing on issues like citizen dialogue and participatory urban planning "The Ukrainian Puzzle" promotes dialogue between organisations, activists, artists, politicians and citizens, and finds new connections between different cities of Ukraine.

        At the end of September 2016 New Urban Topologies went to the south of Ukraine, to Odessa, to continue the investigations gathered under the concept “Ukrainian Puzzle”, in order to develop new topics and challenges and to sum up ideas for a possible future travelling exhibition. Odessa became a meeting place for both new and former NUT-participants from Kharkiv, Kiev, Poltava, Ternopil and Odessa, joined by friends and colleagues from Sweden, Bosnia, Moldova and Romania.

        The new participants, who had applied to participate in the program with their own projects or issues, defined this year’s discussion topics. Among them Kiev architect and urbanist Roman Pomazan, from the project Urban Sustain Architecture  and UrbanLab who proposed an important and lively topic for discussion: education, specifically within architecture and urbanism. He described the main problems and challenges in this field, and presented steps that have been taken by him and his colleagues in the direction of creation a new program for urban education in Ukraine. Joe Plommer, originally from London, but since almost one year living and working in Kharkiv, raised the topic of engaging citizens through media. Joe is working closely with the initiative Kharkiv Observer . Through this English-language website citizens as well as foreigners who live in or visit the city are able to get information on cultural, educational, political, business and social events, but the site also presents opinions and discussions on current events, as one of the few alternative and independent media resources in the city.

        Plans and discussions for a potential exhibition on the Ukrainian Puzzle run like a red thread through the Odessa-NUT, with valuable insights from participants in earlier NUT Ukraine-sessions. The organisations Changing Ternopil, City Lab, Poltava and Critical Thinking in Kharkiv will continue working with developing ideas and activities in their respecitve cities.

        The working group sessions in Odessa were hosted by the ImpactHUB Odessa which has became a strong anchor in the city for young entrepreneurs, creative people and public forums.


In addition to the seminars and work sessions, public lectures were held at the Green Theatre, a young initiative in Odessa that converted an abandoned park in the city centre into an active public space for movie-screening, lectures and concerts. Senada Demirovic from ADA, Mostar (Bosnia-Hercegovina) gave a talk on how to create a cultural institution in the divided city of Mostar, and Vladimir Us from Oberliht, in Chisinau (Moldova) inspired the audience by talking about his experiences with socially engaged art in Moldova and how it can help to bring change to society. 

        architecture tour
        The city of Odessa was opened to the participants by Dimitriy Shamatazhyi from the history and photography project Architecture of Odessa, during a walking excursion around one of the oldest streets of Odessa, Marazlievskaya street. The organization Architecture of Odessa works to preserve the historical heritage of Odessa through photography. During the excursion we discovered that Odessa is a harbour not only in real sense, but also in a metaphorical, since it is a city built by people from all over the world since the very beginning. Somehow it makes us understand that Ukraine is slowly regaining influence into the big picture of the international world, through its people who live and work inside and outside the country. 

        The Ukrainian partner-organisations and Färgfabriken are continuing to work on the ideas for the future of the project - NUT*UP!

        New Urban Topologies – Yangon del II

        Yangon is in a state of flux with incredible futures and paths open to it. As the economic and cultural capital with 35% of all urban dwellers of Myanmar it is expanding rapidly as new migrants, capital, and ideas flow into, through, and around the city. While much is yet to be decided, the city’s inhabitants have decisions to make with generational impacts. “What type of city do we want and how can we get it?"

        New Urban Topologies was a three-day seminar held in Yangon May 4-6, 2015. The seminar facilitated the free exchange of creative ideas and innovative approaches to the future of urban development in Yangon and further explored the issues of public participation and communication between all stakeholders in the urban planning process. Designed to be part of a process in Myanmar and globally, the seminar and follow-up aims to perform ‘democratic acupuncture’ on the bodies of the city – its body politic, planning organs, physical infrastruktur, public spaces, and transport networks.

        For further reading, download a report from the seminars. 

        The short movie gives you an overview of the NUT project in Yangon.


        VAL - the Water Ring of Kaliningrad

        – In between culture, city and water

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        Färgfabriken’s international program Baltic Dimensions proceeds in October 2015 with the urban space of Kaliningrad, Russia. The aim of the project is to highlight a connection between culture and water through the Val, the Water Ring of Kaliningrad.

        With this project, we aim to bring understanding of this route as an entity. We want to highlight it as a valuable non-renewable, cultural and historical asset. The existing characteristics of the route, we believe, allow for cultural institutions to take the lead in this process. We believe that the cultural community can take conceptual ownership of this route and spread appreciation of it to the inhabitants of the city. It is the cultural community which can fill this role, at this early stage, when the splendour of the route is not yet obvious to all, and before the physical appearance is pretty. In this project we would like to initiate a conversation about its historical value, its role in the old and contemporary city identity, its unique natural characteristics in relation both to the water, man-made and natural terrain, planting and wildlife. We wish to discuss its potential to unite different parts of the city in a coherent and comprehensive manner. And not least of all, we want to raise consciousness and appreciation of its significance and beauty to all.

        Place: Kaliningrad, Russia
        When: 15 - 17 October 2015
        Moscow Partners: Green Design Society and Curator Sonya Guimon
        Kaliningrad Partners: Kaliningrad Zoo and Art Vorota

        For further information of the project see our online magazine.

        New Urban Topologies – Poltava

        – Focusing on strengthening civil society, the fight against corruption and visions of the future of Ukrainian cities.

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        After NUT programs in Kharkiv (2013) and Ternopil (2014) Färgfabriken returned to Ukraine at the end of September 2015 with a NUT program in Poltava.

        Poltava, the third city after Kharkiv and Ternopil in the program “Ukrainian Puzzle” hosted a NUT project in late September 2015. Communication between the authorities and civil society, as well as the effects of corruption were overriding themes, along with strengthening the internal network between civil society organizations active in urban issues.

        Despite difficulties with regard to communication and public transparency there have been encouraging developments. Our partners in Kharkiv have registered their own NGO, Critical Thinking while our Ternopil partner, Changing Ternopil, noted better relations and growing cooperation with the city authorities. City Lab in Poltava recently accomplished a popular biking project. Crowd funding for urban CSO projects have taken off in Franko-Ivanovsk etc.

        One of Färgfabriken’s oldest partner organizations, Oberliht in Chisinau, has assumed regional importance and came to Poltava to share their experiences. Of the Kiev based NGOs one is working with children and another one admirably with projects in the war torn Donbas area.

        Strengthening civil society to fill local gaps where the authorities can’t or won’t reach out attracted great interest; the approach should be to identify common interests and present concrete proposals, not just criticising.

        On the other hand, critical art expressions and mobile information booths or vans would serve the purpose of exploring the thoughts, desires and visions of all urban stakeholders. Social media were favoured as a tool to strengthen civil society.

        Last but not least, the participants in Poltava called for increased international exchange. To satisfy this in a modest way Färgfabriken has invited four participants from Kiev. Kharkiv, Ternopil and Poltava for a study and capacity building visit to Sweden during the last week of November.

        The “Ukrainian Puzzle” is taking shape!

        New Urban Topologies – Yangon

        – Democratic acupuncture through art and urban planing.

        • Performance by Kolatt

          Performance by Kolatt

          New Urban Topologies project in Yangon in Myanmar May 4-6 2015.

          Yangon is in a quick state of flux with new investment, rapid construction and migration into the city. At the same time there are valuables to safeguard; the historical heritage and the environmental assets that the lakes, the river and the greenery represent. Infrastructure and public transportation is under strain. It all has to do with the identity of Yangon, with the pride in a sense of belonging among the citizens, about creating a better life in a liveable city.

          By examples and experiences from abroad and from inside Myanmar, New Urban Topologies wants to promote better mutual understanding and a holistic view of the urban future, adding art and architecture to technology and keeping ears and eyes open to the actual needs and wishes of those who inhabit the city.

          Färgfabriken’s international program, New Urban Topologies is an initiative that rose from such questions. For example, those that challenge the lack of methods for dialogue between the cities’ different voices and interests. The program brings together different experiences and attitudes, which help us interpret our cities. The results vary from city to city. The essential idea here is to create possible communications between the cities’ policy makers and grass roots organisations. Activists, culture workers, city planners and architects often represent these groups. Until today, New Urban Topologies has operated in the Baltic States, Eastern Europe, the Balkans, the Middle East, North Africa and South-East Asia. The work was primarily carried out in cities in nascent democratic development which face extensive challenges, like endangered public spaces, a lack of transparency and significant environmental issues.


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