Stockholm on the Move

Ideas, visions and challenges for a city in transition

Previous activities

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Dhaka

November 2019

An investigation of the rural and urban aspects of the landscape in collaboration with Bengal Institute of Architecture, Landscape and Settlements.

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Tbilisi

October 2019

Field visits along the river banks and islets, to parks and to the historic district, followed by seminars and workshop in collaboration with the Faculty of Technology at Caucasian University and Project ArtBeat.

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Cambodia

2018

Meetings to create a network in the region for exchanges in culture, architecture, urban planning and issues related to human rights.

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Yangon

December 2017

Workshops, conference and a car free street-fair on one of central streets of the city.

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The Ukrainian Puzzle

Autum 2017

"The Ukranian Puzzle" - a touring exhibition and public program building on the experiences from four Ukrainian cities.

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Odessa

September 2016

"The Ukranian Puzzle" - about dialogue and participatory urban planning. Finds connections between organisations, activists, artists, politicians and citizens. 

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Yangon

Nov 2015

A follow up on the visit in May to promote better mutual understanding and a holistic view. 

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Poltava

Sep 2015

Focusing on strengthening civil society, the fight against corruption and visions for the future.

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Kaliningrad

Oct 2015

A connection between culture and water through the Val, the Water Ring of Kaliningrad

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Yangon

May 2015

Democratic acupuncture through art and urban planing.

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Ternopil

Nov 2014

Strengthening of civil society networks and models for communication with authorities.

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Alexandria III

2014

Sustainability, security, recycling and the specific needs of children and women.

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Kharkiv

2013

"The older teach the younger, but in the end I'm not sure who actually learns something."

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Alexandria II

2013

Digital communications were vital in the political changes -what comes after?

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Mostar

2012

This disputed area is in the middle of change. How to make this into a place that unites and creates spaces for all of Mostars inhabitants?

Jakarta

Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Surabaya

2012

Discussions about disaster prevention and walkable and bicycle friendly cities.

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Amman

2012

Amman is currently going through changes that affect the growth, urban form and socioeconomic dimensions of the city.

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Stockholm

2011

Exchange of experiences and identify problematic and successful aspects of the city of Stockholm

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Alexandria I

2011

Barely a year after the revolution, artists, architects and students met in Alexandria to discuss the city's history, idenity and potential. 

Skopje

2011

The city of Skopje is a mix of a lot of different styles and cultures. In later years, the central parts have gone though big changes.

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Chișinău

2010

In co-operation with the artistic institutes of Oberliht and Gallery Ў, Färgfabriken created a space for intense talks about urban development.

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Minsk

2010

City parks threatened by big constructions and anonymous module suburbs emerging at breakneck-speed. 

New Urban Topologies in Alexandria, session II

 – February 21–23 2013.

In February 2013 New Urban Topologies returned to Egypt to conduct a follow-up to the visit in 2011. During the workshop we also produced the film "New Urban Topologies Alexandria" (above). The film depicts the situation in Alexandria today and imposes several general issues that could be applied to many cities around the world.

On 20–24 February 2013 Färgfabriken in conjunction with its Egyptian partner Gudran carried out an extensive session on dialogue, communication and participatory planning in the city of Alexandria within the New Urban Topologies (NUT) program. The participants were municipal representatives, architects, urban planners, scholars, students, activists and ordinary citizens from the cities of Alexandria, East Jerusalem, Beirut, and Jakarta and Stockholm. The initiative has a strong connection to the ongoing democratic transition in Egypt and was a result of a request from the Egyptian participants in previous sessions.

The purpose was to empower the individual participants and the NUT network through the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and analogue participatory methods.

Background
After three years New Urban Topologies (NUT) have grown to be an important program for establishing new contacts within and between cities, knowledge transfer and cross-sectorial dialogue on urbanism. In previous sessions, NUT has shed light on different aspects of the cities visited, such as urban identity, cultural heritage, architectural ambitions, transport systems, segregation and public space. During the NUT session in Alexandria in October 2011 it became clear that the matter of dialogue and communication was the core challenge in a city where the uprisings earlier that year had shaken the society deeply.

ICT and democracy
Digital communication has played a crucial role in the recent political changes in the region. But what comes after Twitter and Facebook? The second session of NUT Alexandria wanted to investigate the next step in using Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and further how these tools could be used together with the best-proven analogue participatory planning methods, such as open space workshops and charrettes. Complementing these methods with ICT could possibly create a holistic entirety where the two would fuse in a fruitful way.

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The questions above were some of those posted by the young activists and students during a four-day long training that was offered by Färgfabriken. The intense course aimed to teach the participants how to use digital tools, in this case film cameras and movie cutting programs, to produce documentary material highlighting the realities on ground in Alexandria and empowering the participants to speak up and involve in the future of their society. After the workshop the participants went out in the streets to ask the citizens of Alexandria questions dealing with different aspects of the ICT theme. They then produced four short films that were shown for a large audience before the New Urban Topologies workshop.

Public seminar on participatory planning
The first public event of the second session of NUT Alexandria included a full day seminar where participants from the cities of Alexandria, East Jerusalem, Beirut, Jakarta, Mostar and Stockholm discussed local and global urban prospects and challenges with a focus on dialogue and communication. The conversation targeted community participation in official planning as well as and activist strategies of communication in the cities presented. (Please download full report from the seminar here.)
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Photo: Rebecka Gordan

Kafr Ashri case study excursion
The case study area of the second New Urban Topologies session in Alexandria was the residential district of Kafr Ashri, located in the industrial district of Minet El Basal in the vicinity of the western harbor, close to the inner city and framed by the Mahmodia canal. The good location, a mixed used fabric and the high land value makes it easy for the inhabitants to commute to the city and for visitors to come there. Lately there has been a decrease in the industrial activities in Minet El Bassal, which resulted in a substantial number of vacant industrial buildings and a high percentage of unemployed. However, the vacant buildings and the location offer many possibilities.
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Photo: Rebecka Gordan

A selected group of New Urban Topologies participants got to visit the area and talk to some of its inhabitants. The group was guided by Sameh El Halawany and Hebattallah Abouelfadl. At the site the group sat down with the local community representative Adel El Said who told them about the area and the problems the community is facing. The group was shown new badly constructed residential illegal buildings, streets in bad condition, the lack of street lights, empty warehouses in the vicinity of the area and the only bridge connecting Kafr Ashri to the south, made by cardboard and plastic and guarded by a man that asked for money when inhabitants are crossing.
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Photo: Rebecka Gordan

The group also got a change to talk to a few children. They said what they most wished for in Kafr Ashri was playgrounds and to have a school for girls. As for now the young girls have to walk a long way and also make use of the rundown bridge in order to get to school. The visit indicates that local actors as door openers when entering an area are crucial, and that partnering with local NGOs – which is a part of the NUT strategy – is a necessity.

The workshop – problems and possibilities in the Kafr Ashri area
The workshop session was introduced through the screening of a documentary short film made by Gudran where a couple of inhabitants of Kafr Ashri share their views of the area and their personal situation. The documentary was followed by a discussion and finally the young activists and students presented the documentary short films that they had worked on during the week within the NUT-ICT training course. Together with Gudran and the Swedish Institute Alexandria Färgfabriken then hosted a workshop in which the attendants were placed in four groups where they were mixed according to their professions and nationalities. Each group was designated to discuss one topic. The overall theme was Trust, the four topics were Public Space, Economic Local Development, Services and Housing. Each group worked on their specific them and made a public presentation. The presentation was followed by a final discussion where community representative and the Director of the Urban Planning Department discussed the themes of the day together with the audience. (Please download full report of the workshop here.)
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Photo: Rebecka Gordan

NUT-ICT; a new platform
The last day in Alexandria Färgfabriken organized a workshop that focused on Information and Communication Technologies and how NUT could develop through a digital platform for communication and knowledge sharing. Introducing the content of the day, Färgfabriken underlined the urge met earlier on in the NUT sessions by participants from different countries to share knowledge and build new networks together. The participators in the workshop – consisting of urban planners, artists and activists, all active within the field of local urban democracy working in the cities of Alexandria, East Jerusalem, Beirut, and Jakarta – came to talk about Internet access and the fact that many people do not have it in their countries. They all found their official digital infrastructure insufficient.

With around 35 million Internet uses in Egypt, the participants identified the need to develop and empower this phenomenon and make use of the full potential of this digital revolution. Hand in hand with the need to make good use of the digital transformation goes the NUT-ICT network, the participants concluded. A better communication within the group would affect also external communication. One further point was that local inhabitants outside the professional sphere should be invited to participate and share their views at the platform. “The architects need these people to give input to their design, and the people need the architects to be able to make use of the design tools allowing change”, one of the participants concluded.

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Photo: Rebecka Gordan

Visualizing the Platform
After discussing the major needs, the participants were divided into three teams designated to come up with ideas and proposals for how a NUT-ICT platform could be used and function. The participants imagined the platform as their portal collecting the different experiences from the NUT network that would inform the visitor. It was said that the platform needs to be very interactive with a design that is flexible. The basic idea of the teams was to create an international virtual portal with the participating cities and where participants could reach out. In this portal you have your respective city that you work with, but others can also share experiences they think could be of help to you. The teams underlined that the setup of a platform also is very connected to what they named “Security ICT”. They stressed that participants living in countries that do lack in freedom of expression must have their security guaranteed when contributing to the platform. On the other hand, if secured the platform could be a vital breathing space for these participants. In line with this, it was highlighted that authorities that normally do not publish their documents online could do so at the platform.

Mapping, sharing and strengthening the network
It was advised that the digital platform should include a presentation of New Urban Topologies, its aims and core values and a specific NUT dictionary. The site was also suggested to contain data on global urbanism as well as the specific NUT cities in the form of capturing texts, facts and figures. It was also suggested that the site should have one closed part for the NUT participants and one open part for the public. Regarding the content, the teams also stated that the platform should include a database of information, some sort of ”shared experience tool”. The possibility to compare the strategies of one’s own city to other cities was seen as an important ingredient. The teams stressed the importance of communicating the ideas of NUT. These ideas could come from anyone, which would make it very important to clarify that NUT is about listening and involving different perspectives and topics, from cultural heritage to informal economies. Sharing experiences and methods was identified as the main task of the platform.

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Photo: Rebecka Gordan

The participants found it very interesting with e-learning, and one team brought up the importance of developing a methodology similar to the Swedish “folkskola”, equivalent to a free public school open to all. All participants agreed on that personal development within the NUT program is very important and that a future online platform should give participants a possibility to develop. In line with this they stated that NUT should not only focus on institutions, organizations and municipalities but also the people the network consists of. Being part of the NUT network is a personal choice and the participants stressed that they engage not only to make a change in society but also to learn new methods and get new perspectives that they can make use of in their own daily work.
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Photo: Rebecka Gordan

Reaching Out
How can the findings of NUT be spread outside its core network? This was an issue that all the groups discussed. One of the teams stated that there must be communication tools on the ground before realizing the digital version of NUT. Inhabitants and other participants could be reached with various unconventional methods as graffiti on walls, art in public space, cultural activities, t-shirts, marketing campaigns and photography. The web site could then be based on these actions. Some participants stated that they were a bit afraid that the use of digital media exclude rather than include certain groups. This indicates that there is a need for ICT training and an inclusion of interviews on the website with those not connected to digital channels.

Concluding comments
As in the first session of NUT Alexandria the participants still stressed the need for greater dialogue between citizens and decision makers and asked for a greater transparency within processes of city planning and urban design. The gap between the people and the authority that they identified back then can though be said to have decreased to a certain extent as the second session made a serious interaction between the municipal urban planning director and two engaged inhabitants of a poor and neglected neighborhood happen. Summarizing the five days, Färgfabriken also identifies a strong wish among the participants for a sustainable digital platform that will fill the gaps between the analogue meetings. The essential functions of this site would be knowledge transfer within and between different cities and stakeholders, effective e-learning with an international perspective for a local adaptation, and a secure space for freedom of expression.


In the New Urban Topologies menu you can find reports, reflections and pictures from each city. It's also possible to download and read the two publications "The Chisinau and Minsk experience" and "Alexandria – City of Layers". New Urban Topologies is supported by the Swedish Institute and by the Swedish Institute in Alexandria.

 

On New Urban Topologies

– by Thomas Lundh, advisor New Urban Topologies.

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For more than a decade, Färgfabriken has been active in the fields of urban planning, sociology, and architecture. Färgfabriken has a dual function, both being an exhibition space and a meeting place for different disciplines. Facilitating new net-works between public and private spheres, Färgfabriken wants to promote new ideas and strategies for our urban future.

A successful example using this method was Stockholm at Large, a pro-ject in several steps that Färgfabriken initiated in 2001 and produced. Here, the future of Stockholm in a long-term perspective was analyzed, considering a population growth of 600,000 people. This is one of several projects in the fields of urban planning and development, all with different starting points and perspectives, which Färgfabriken has organized. By making the complex process of urban development more accessible through exhibitions, seminars and publications, we believe more people will find it meaningful to engage in the development of their cities.

With extensive experience in initiating meetings on the city’s future and potential, Färgfabriken decided to fund a program with an inter-national scope in 2009, New Urban Topologies. The aim of the initiative is to create an open and free platform for an exchange of experiences be-tween the different stakeholders and the participating cities. This is in order to strengthen political participation and transboundary networks.

At the moment, New Urban Topologies is focusing on projects in the Middle East, the Balkans and in Eastern Europe. There are also plans for programs in South East Asia. Up until now, we have executed projects in Chisinau in Moldova, Minsk in Belarus, Skopje in Macedonia, Alexandria in Egypt, Amman in Jordan and Mostar in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Our main objective at these sites has been to start a process where Färgfabriken, in conjunction with participating local partners, initiates a discussion regarding urban challenges and possibilities. Together we identify a number of geographical areas of interest for development or general discussion and problem solving. The purpose is not to deliver complete solutions or answers, but to pinpoint different ways of thinking and to address and discuss complex matters.

It is our evaluation that the intentions of New Urban Topologies i.e. to be a steppingstone for new contacts, knowledge and understanding, between different groups have become reality. We have seen how new contacts between different groups within and between the cities have developed after each single New Urban Topologies session. This informal working method has proven an easy way to loosen up hierarchies and what seemed to be cemented power relations.

 

Alexandria – City of Layers

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The book Alexandria – City of Layers documents the New Urban Topologies project with summaries of workshop presentations and interviews with participants. It also includes essays on Alexandria, and a rich assortment of images. Translated into English and Arabic, the book was launched both in Alexandria and Stockholm during 2012. The electronic version is now available for free down below. 


City of Layers

- contributing essay by Joachim Granit.

The meeting with Alexandria in Spring 2011, after the big upheaval that the whole of Egypt had been through, was an experience in many ways. The city is worn-down with an intense life, lots of people and ideas—everything in a complex blend where the past meets the present. You could feel it in the air that there had been a change in the Egyptian society. It was liberating to see happy and proud people who had just had the chance to vote in the first round of fair elections.

Situated by the Mediterranean Sea, Alexandria has been a center for thoughts and ideas for millenniums. Here, different cultures and religions have met and been inspired by and confronted with each other. The traces of these trails of thoughts can still be found today in different layers, both physical and mental. It was this process of movement and meetings that we wished to high-light when, in co-operation with Gudran Association for Art and Develop-ment, Alexandria University, and the Swedish Institute Alexandria, we decided to organize the first New Urban Topologies in the Middle East.

When we came back to Alexandria six months later to carry out the New Urban Topologies program, the atmosphere in the city had changed. The euphoria from the past months had turned into uncertainty about the future, and impatience with the fact that a new Egypt seemed to take its time to be formed. Who and what groups of people would take over power?

On our way to the Swedish Institute, walking along the beautiful Cor-niche, we passed the courthouse where the trial against two police officers accused of the death of young activist Khaled Said had just begun. The web page We are all Khaled Said had led the way for the revolt, and the ten-sion in the air was obvious. The Military was present and a number of combat vehicles were parked on the street. I saw gripping scenes with people who expressed a deep sense of despair; people who fought for their rights.

Change takes time, and Egypt will eventually find its way forward. How, and in what way, is at the present moment hard to tell. During days of seminars, excursions and intense workshops, the temperature rose. Through meetings, discussions and working together new ideas took shape.

The questions were related to the planning of the city and a possible path to democracy. Alexandria worked as a catalyst for a future Egypt. It be-came an important experience for all of us, both the ones active in Alex-andria and the ones who traveled in from Stockholm, Amman, Istanbul, Damascus, Beirut, and Cairo. We all had different experiences from work-ing with culture, entrepreneurship, universities and the public sector. The diversity created energy.

The first cities were founded almost six thousand years ago, today they symbolize our civilizations. The cities will outlive most of us, but, while we are active in them we have a unique opportunity to create conditions for functioning and exciting urban environments, both for ourselves and for generations to come. We all have a responsibility and we must use it in a clever way. We, who represent Färgfabriken, believe that new struc-tures and new contexts can arise as we work with different sectors of the society and create informal meetings between different groups and wills —with and without power.

During this period that we are referring to as the Arab Spring we have seen clearly that it is in the public spaces that debates take place and where the people challenge the political structures. In Sweden, as in many other countries around the world, there has been a discussion about how these “lungs” should be managed so that they can continue to exist and expand. This important question, along with many other issues that came up during the intense days in October 2011 will be discussed further in this book.

Alexandria has something special. In cities where everything has not been designed and processed in detail, there are many opportunities for an intense dynamic life. This is in strong contrast to my own hometown, Stockholm. I cannot help compare with the present Swedish situation. In our eagerness to plan and structure everything, have we in the process lost what is informal and coincidental, the things that give our cities a soul?

The purpose of New Urban Topologies in Alexandria was to create a mental sphere for a new inventory of the many creative resources that exist in the city, all within a framework of history, culture and future possibilities.


To download the electronic version (PDF) of the book, just click the icon down below.

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To order the paper version of the book please contact, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

New Urban Topologies (NUT) is supported by the Swedish Institute and by the Swedish Institute in Alexandria.

Mostar – The Movie


 


By Johanna Bratel, 2012.

New Urban Topologies in Stockholm

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On 6–9 December 2011 Färgfabriken carried out an extensive program for the key participants within the New Urban Topologies (NUT) project. The aim was to gather these stakeholders for the first time in order to facilitate a common discussion on planning strategies, transparency/democracy, and the future of NUT. An important goal was also to identify problematic and successful aspects of the city of Stockholm and by so further ease the exchange of experiences. Among the participants were architects, urban planners, artists, educators, and researchers from Sweden, Belarus, Moldova, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt.

Reception at Färgfabriken
The starting point of the New Urban Topologies (NUT) program in Stockholm was a reception at Färgfabriken where all NUT key participants met for the first time. In addition to the Färgfabriken staff and representatives from the Swedish Institute, architects, urban planners, artists, educators, and researchers from Belarus, Moldova, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt were present. The directors of Färgfabriken, Pernilla Lesse and Joachim Granit, welcomed the group and gave a brief history of Färgfabriken. Project Manager Thomas Lundh described the program of the coming days. Hans Lepp, Counselor at the Swedish Institute, gave an informal lecture on the soul of cities. He also explained how the Swedish Institute is backing the NUT project in order to promote democratic development and new paths in cities all over the world through a connection of people. Finally, the participants got a guided tour through Färgfabriken’s latest exhibition.

Stockholm by bus
The second day the participants visited a number of key sites in Stockholm on foot and by bus. The excursion had been put together by Färgfabriken in collaboration with architect Ola Andersson who had prepared a map of the route and a text with background information of the different stops.

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The tour started at Fjällgatan in Södermalm in order to give an overview of the city. The participants got information about the planning history of Stockholm and the current debate on Slussen. Driving through the city center, the next stop was Gamla Enskede, an area built a decade ago as a part of the movement where inhabitants got state loans to build their own homes, “egnahemsrörelsen”. The group discussed gentrification, closeness to service and the social life in Stockholm and in cities in general, as many perceived Enskede as empty and segregated, with no impressive social life.

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Driving through the southern industrial areas, the next stop was the main square of the suburb Årsta. The group talked about the Swedish model and the social democratic visions for the society at the time of the Second World War. They noticed how the commercial activity was more vibrant in the streets, but that the square still hosted the cultural center and popular library.

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The following suburb visited was Bredäng with its large scale housing blocks built in the middle of the 1960s. Ola Andersson described the background of the housing program at the time, miljonprogrammet, and the events following with an escalating segregation where immigrants and low-income households constituted a bigger and bigger part of the population. The participants thereafter discussed how to make such neighborhoods more socially lively. The question was of particular interest to the Belarusians who have an experience of living in Minsk, a city where such blocks and suburbs are built in even a larger scale at the very moment.

The next stop was GlashusEtt, Hammarby Sjöstad's environmental information center. Here Carl-Gustaf Hagander, Architect and Technical Judge at the Land and Environment Court of Appeal, took over as the excursion guide and explained the thoughts behind the new district. A long discussion followed on participatory processes, energy efficiency, land use, how to make streets lively, and ways to create socio economic diversity. Finally, the group went to the central islet of Riddarholmen to see the new Waterfront conference building beside the City Hall. The participants reasoned about the tension in city planning that often arise between the forces that want to preserve the old image of the city and these arguing for new structures. The group finished the day at the Museum of Architecture and the Museum of Modern Art at Skeppsholmen. At the dinner two artists were invited from Intercult, an NGO that engages in trans-border cultural projects.

Visit to the city planning office
The next day the participants were split into three groups according to their professions for study visits at respective institution. The officials from the city planning offices were invited to The City Planning Office in Stockholm where they met with representatives from this office as well as from The Office of Regional Planning, Stockholm County Council. The theme of the meeting was Communication and Participation.

The day started with short presentations where the NUT participants described the major aims and challenges in their cities. In Amman the land use is a central issue where the City is aiming for a more compact city in order to make it sustainable. In Alexandria the Planning Department is working on a new strategic plan, something the city really needs as the present situation to a large extent is chaotic an unplanned. In Chisinau the planners face a problem with private investors that aims to build on public spaces. There are also problems in preserving the architectural heritage, and with the infrastructural system. In Minsk there is a present housing shortage and a need to develop the infrastructure and quality in housing which has put a great pressure on the planning office. There is also a need to preserve green spaces threatened by private investors. In Beirut the great challenge is that most of the land is privately owned, which limits the City’s possibility to act. After these presentations the Stockholm planners described the Stockholm administrative systems, explaining the functions of the regional plan, the comprehensive plan and the detailed plans. The following discussion regarded different land use laws and how to deal with the private sector. Thereafter the group talked about ways to execute and secure participatory processes and successful methods when involving citizens and how to make use of their input in the best possible way. Here the Swedish planners shared their presently used tools in the participatory field, among them web sites, sending out proposals to key institutions, visits to schools, ads in the newspaper and public exhibitions. Finally the group went to Kulturhuset to view a full model of Stockholm.

Visit to the Royal Academy of Technology (KTH)
The meeting at the Architecture School at The Royal Academy of Technology had four themes: The role of activist groups in urban planning; The relation between public authorities and private companies in contemporary planning; The colonial planning; The mechanism of coping with unplanned development. The day started with talks by Swedish representatives from the Department of Urban Planning and the Department of Architecture. The educational system was described as well a few chosen student works. Short presentations followed where the NUT participants from the respective universities developed their views of the different themes.

In Skopje the university staff has taken a new role in bringing together different stakeholders in the city, among them officials, activists and researchers. In Mostar the image is quite dark, with insufficient funds to the architecture- and planning education, few activists and great divides in the city. In Chisinau some young people have squatted heritage buildings in order to protect them but been forced out. In Beirut public space is used as a tool to attract people, not bringing them together which is much needed in the divided city. However there are activists working in the urban field. In Minsk there are no activist groups as of political reasons. This means that knowledge from abroad is absolutely vital. In Alexandria inhabitants have now discovered that they can be heard and therefore show a new interest in taking part in the urban planning process. In Amman the voice of activist groups is just about to emerge, they mostly focus on heritage protection and environmental issues. The subsequent discussion came to focus on the role of activism within the urban field. One aspect was preservation of buildnings and monuments of the past and how these can be uniting forces in cities battered by conflicts and war. Another issue was the power of private investors, and how to find urban pockets beyond their radar to develop democracy and creativity. In this process activist groups were seen as important stakeholders. Another topic was the educational system and how it can include more knowledge from institutions from abroad. The panel finally concluded that professionals within urban planning and architecture must take a more active role, and that this must be done in their role as professionals, not only in their private free time. This means that a shift is needed in the educational system as a whole where the universities must produce thinkers – not a labour force alienated to the society.

Visit to cultural institutions
The NUT participants coming from NGOs started the third day with a tour of Siri Derkert’s installation on Östermalmstorg. Here questions came up as: Who gets the assignments? Is it prestigious? One participant saw the permanent public artwork in the subway as contradictory as it is a place of movement and therefore the art should be mobile and developed.

The tour was followed by a visit to the Slaughterhouse Studios and a tour of the project Room With a View, which discusses the planned redevelopment for the area. The discussion focused on: How to find your place as an artist in Stockholm? How do one get accesses to premises? How does the state contribute? The fact that artists are working together in a collaborative way surprised some of the participants. They also wondered if the Swedish artists were interested in the urban development in general or if it was the local context that made it an affair of the heart. Parallels were drawn to activities in Alexandria and Amman, where the NGOs work in similar ways to strengthen cultural heritage sites and spread information to the citizens.

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The visit at the Slaughterhouse Studios (Stockholm Meat packing district)

In the afternoon the group visited Konsthall C and the exhibition ”En ömsesidig sak” about political solidarity and struggle, and art as acting space. The discussion came to touch upon how to work with local populationa and linking artistic activities to a local context. The participants also talked about the Swedish model and the program for artists and culture in Sweden. Moreover, the group discussed how Sweden could stop believing in their own model when it worked so well. Finally, the participants visited an exhibition on Gallery Index with images from Chernobyl. Together with the project manager they continued the discussion on how and why the Swedish model was abandoned and how it affects society and culture today.

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Konsthall C

Presentation on study visits and discussions on Stockholm
In the evening, all NUT participants met again. Each group told the others what they had discussed during the day. The conclusion from the university was that the most important issues discussed was public participation in urban planning, the planning field’s strong connection to politics and lastly the new role for professionals as activists: ”More ethics than estetics”. The NGO team mentioned the role of art regarding the issue of gentrification, learning and sharing strategies with local communities and the responsibility of artists to take action in the process of urban change as the most vital issues during the day. The participants that had visited the City Planning Office told the others that the most interesting things discussed were the regulatory frameworks of the comprehensive and detailed plans and their legal status in the different countries, and what to learn from each other. They also found the topic of public participation a fundamental issue; how to approach the public and get their feedback. The next morning, the group met for a final discussion on the city of Stockholm and the future of the New Urban Topologies project.
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The Slaughterhouse Area (Meat packing district). The next part of Stockholm to be gentrified?

Except for the foreign NUT participants, Bojan Boric from The Royal Academy of Technology, Anders Öhrn from The Swedish Institute and two journalists from the program Kulturnytt at Sveriges Radio and Arkitekten, were present. Initially, Thomas Lundh asked for experiences and criticisms of Stockholm. On the positive side, the participants described a well-connected city where the inhabitants walk and bicycle a lot. The street system is very accessible and well planned. The air is unpolluted and the buildings colorful with an appropriate height. The openness and the large amount of water was seen as a pleasant asset. The nature is integrated in the city with parks and natural forests that are easy to access. The low income-groups seem to have access to good facilities. There are a lot of playgrounds for children. The public transport system works really well, ”everything as practical as Ikea”. The streets often continues into public spaces. Usually there is public art at these sites which gives an inclusive feeling. The inhabitants looks happy, safe and satisfied. The planning process seem really effective and has a focus on community participation.

On the negative side, Stockholm is inevitably affected by the coldness and darkness. People seem to be stressed and constantly on the move. The water is not used as a part of the city life, which it could be with public boat traffic and better quays. The communities doesn’t seem natural but prefabricated. Because of the planning monopoly people don’t have the possibility of creating their own spaces, nor shape the city according to their wishes and needs. The city is over regulated, over controlled and isolated. Everything seem to be according to a certain template – diversity is needed. The city seems to offer a lot, but in fact everything is the same. Stockholm doesn’t feel vibrant or diverse even though people with many different backgrounds live in it. The fact that culture is branded entertainment is worrying. The city has clear tendencies of gentrification. It is over commercialized. Everything is expensive, from food to museum visits.

The future of NUT – common conclusions
The last part of the NUT Stockholm meeting was a workshop and subsequent presentations of ideas of how New Urban Topologies can evolve in the future. The suggestions for upcoming NUT projects came to focus on both on the preparatory work, the execution itself and the required strategies after the visits. The advices were the following:

Prior the visits: Create a sheet with photos and bios of the participants that can be shared within the group. Put together a qualified basic material about the city that the participants can reflect on before visiting the cities. Set up an online blog or a Facebook group where the participants can exchange information on beforehand.

During the visits: Each participant should have to write down their reflections on the process each day during program, which could be published online. Each local participant should present a site or phenomenon during the excursion.

The three steps with seminar, excursion and workshop works well. The mix of artists, architects, academics and officials is good, but more officials need involve. The seminar should give more qualified information about the current city. Some said that three days are sufficient, that no more time can be spared. Others asked for a two-day excursion.

After the visits: Gather the results – this could be done online, through social media, or/and in a travelling exhibition. A book with the results is good, but not enough as the process must evolve and continue. Instead of a book there could also be a small editorial board that gathers the material, this would make the reporting quicker. Perhaps the material gathered by this editorial board could be presented in a folder or magazine which also would be translated into the local language. Make the process visible, leave something behind in the city, as an exhibition or a public presentation where locals and officials are invited. Set up a social media platform where participants and others can discuss problems and exchange experiences and advices any time.

Participants and contributors in Stockholm:

Sweden: Färgfabriken; The Swedish Institute; The City Planning Office in Stockholm; The Office of Regional Planning, Stockholm County Council; The Royal Academy of Technology in Stockholm; The Land and Environmet Court of Appeal.

Egypt: Gudran for Art and Development, Alexandria; Alexandria Governorate, Urban Planning Department; Alexandria University, Faculty of Fine Arts.

Jordan: Hamzet Wazel Foundation; Amman Institute, Urban Development; Jordan University (JUST).

Lebanon: The City of Beirut; Académie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts (ALBA).

Belarus: Gallery “Ў”; General plan workshop “Minskgrada”; Belarusian National Technical University Architecture department.

Moldova: Oberliht; Chisinau Project Institute; University of Moldova.

Macedonia: Press to Exit Project Space; University St. Cyril and Methodius in Skopje, Faculty of Architecture.

Bosnia and Herzegovina: University Herzegovina, Faculty of Civil Engineering in Mostar.


The text is an shortened, and partly re-written, version of the report "New Urban Topologies Stockholm" by Rebecka Gordan.

 

New Urban Topologies

– a short presentation

     

    Cultural exchange trough Art and Urbanism
    What cities do we wish for? How can we build and convert our cities and create a greater sense of participation among the citizens? In 2010 Färgfabriken initiated the program New Urban Topologies (NUT). The aim of this initiative is to create an open and free platform for an exchange of experience between different cities and different stakeholders; like governments and decision-makers, artists, architects, NGOs, activists, citizens, colleges and universities. The objective is to create informal meetings, and a democratic platform for urban development.

    No matter what city one lives in, the urban human wants to be able to move freely and easily, to have access to the necessary elements of life such as education, work, social care, security, entertainment, leisure, parks and public places. And a possibility to express yourself as an individual and as well interact with other people. The city is an opportunity. But does this opportunity include all citizens?

    An important perspective in NUT is to investigate the cities through lenses which focus on a holistic cultural perspective. NUT is a common learning process where Färgfabriken in close collaboration with local partners investigates and develops themes relevant for the city in question through alternative and site-specific perspectives. The NUT process has created several interesting spinoff projects as research programs, networks, exhibitions, publications, short documentaries and cultural organizations such as the ADA center in Mostar.

    The NUT project has so far identified and reflected over relevant topics which many cities in the world are struggling with as:

    • Socio/economic aspects of the city, inclusive communication between all stakeholders and about infusing art and architecture into the planning and communication process.

    • Lack of meetings between citizens’ communities, civil society and government. NUT provides communication methods between the people and the authorities. NUT therefore invites government agencies, civil society organizations, activists, artists, students and architects.

    • Strategies to promote local democracy and political participation; to give voice to those whose voices are otherwise not heard.

    • There is a need to take a holistic look at urban development by examining several subtopics as: The identity of the city, the use of public spaces, digitalization, pollution and traffic jams resulting from inappropriate public transport, hazardous waste treatment etc. All these issues and many more create complex patterns, which need to be highlighted in a cross- sectoral dialogue.

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    Our cities will always transform and change. Many different stakeholders want their voices to be heard. NUT is therefore a project who will adapt and be an instrument with the objective to strengthen the contemporary discussion of how we are composing our societies in global rapidly changing world. A world with many different needs and cultural contexts.

    In the New Urban Topologies menu you can find reports, reflections and pictures from each city. It's also possible to download and read the two publications "The Chisinau and Minsk experience" and "Alexandria – City of Layers"


    New Urban Topologies is supported by the Swedish Institute, by the Swedish Institute in Alexandria and by Forum Syd.

     

    New Urban Topologies in Minsk

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    On 27–29 October 2010 Färgfabriken jointly with its Belarusian partner Gallery “Ў” carried out an extensive program on urban topologies in Minsk for city hall representatives, architects, urban planners, students and other interested participants. The aim of the initiative was to identify ways to strengthen positive values and transform challenges facing the city of Minsk.

    City parks threatened by flashy constructions and anonymous module suburbs emerging at breakneck-speed. These are some of the challenges and opportunities facing Minsk, the Belarus capital city.

    The starting point of the project New Urban Topologies (NUT) in Minsk was a reception hosted by the Embassy of Sweden where a dialogue among the Swedish and Belarusian participants took off. A seminar at the Gallery “Ў” and a excursion in the city of Minsk followed. At the seminar the Swedish Ambassador to Belarus Stefan Eriksson underlined the importance of strengthening the Swedish–Belarusian relations in the field of urban topology. The director of Färgfabriken, Joachim Granit, spoke on the projects of Färgfabriken and the history of Sweden, from the 1800s urban slums to 1960s massive housing projects to the segregation of today, whilst NUT project director Thomas Lundh explained the working methods of Färgfabriken, which are focused on gathering of different kind of professionals for an exchange of experiences and ideas. Cecilia Lindahl from the Office of Regional Planning in Stockholm also underlined the significance of participation from stakeholders of different sectors at different levels, whilst Ludvig Elgström from the City Planning Office spoke on the challenge of a growing Stockholm, with new housing and infrastructure. Ebba Högström from The Royal Academy of Technology explained the education system for architects and urban planners in Stockholm and highlighted some recent research projects. Aliaksandr Akentieu, head of the general plan workshop “Minskgrada” described the main directions of the territorial development of the city of Minsk and the centralized planning process that is a heritage from the Soviet times. His colleague, Siarhei Bahlasau, head of architecture and design within the same project, spoke on the historical centre of Minsk in the modern city. Lastly, the artist Artur Klinau proposed a marketing concept for Minsk, focused on promoting Soviet architecture for foreign visitors.

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    Minsk by Bus
    The route through the city included several sites that all had been picked by the vice president of the Belarusian Union of Architects Mikhail Haufeld with the aim of showing a wide spectrum of what the city of Minsk is today. On the basis of the presentations during the seminar, informal discussions and the sites shown during the bus excursion Färgfabriken and the Swedish participants summarized it all into four themes. “Livable Spaces“, addressed issues such as street life, green areas, recreation places and diversity within architecture and city planning. “City of History––Looking Into the Future“ focused on heritage preservation, renewal of industrial areas, the recapturing of the past and the values and identity for Minsk. ”Exchanging Ideas” included topics such as global versus local, urban strategies and urban education and how to include the opinions of the city dwellers when developing the city. ”Sustainable Mobility” targeted alternative transports, how to create a healthy city, local production and decentralized connections within transport infrastructure.

    Then followed a workshop where four groups, consisting of both Belarusian and Swedish participators, intensively discussed and developed the chosen themes. Finally they came forward with interesting results which we're presented later the same day.

    Workshop outcome
    The participants in the group that focused on the topic "livable spaces" decided to address the unused industrial area surrounding the white plant on Krasnoarmejskaya Street. The team members did not want to demolish existing buildings but instead turn them into centers for sports activities, contemporary art, social facilities, and housing for students and guest researchers from other parts of the country.

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    The group that focused on the historical city and its prospects for the future came to name their proposal “The River of Time”, an analogy for the flow of history. As a case study they had chosen the large and old industrial complex in red brick on Oktyabrskaya Street, where there are almost no workers today. One idea was to turn the industrial plants into lofts, another to build new structures on top of the old. The group also wanted to extend the river by widen it and construct additional watercourses, insert more green areas, build a new tramline and tram station and perhaps also introduce old-fashioned horse carts. The aim was to create a boiling street life with room for creativity and meeting places. The participants that discussed exchanging of ideas decided to look at the city from the perspectives of experts, citizens and decision makers. Firstly, they discussed the diversity and individuality in architecture from the viewpoint of an inhabitant. Stories were told of how people create their own space in front of their apartments by adding flowerpots and how you deal with that as a neighbor if your taste differs. The team members suggested that, as people seem to want to add individuality to anonymous buildings, the city should provide unfinished structures to which the people could add their creativity.

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    The participants focusing on the subject of "sustainable mobility" discussed intellectual infrastructure as well as transport infrastructure. It was stated that the two existing metro lines are functioning well, as does the railway lines. With a high-speed train line however, inhabitants from the satellite cities could be brought closer to the central city.The team members also suggested better transport infrastructure between the suburban areas. They were concerned about traffic jams and pollution and suggested a prohibition of private cars in the historic center of the city. Moreover, the team saw a need for environmentally friendly transportation, they wanted to continue the construction of bike lanes and insert a new aerial cable car.

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    Closure Minsk
    One of the important discussions that came out of NUT dealt with the branding of Minsk and the directions for the development of the city. Today, new architectural projects are compared with the ones of Dubai and Las Vegas. The residential housing is focused on large cheap multi-story buildings in the outskirts of the city. Parts of the city center and some religious structures are being meticulously rebuilt. But many of the participants expressed a particular animosity towards these directions, asking for residential areas and architectural monuments at a more human scale and new ideas within the built environment rather that a rebuilding or repeating of the old. Among most local participants there was an expressed desire for an extended dialogue between decision makers and citizens, as well as a wish for a greater transparency within the planning process. A wish for international collaboration was also articulated, both among students and professionals.


    Participants and contributors in Minsk:

    Belarus: Gallery “Ў”; Committee for architecture and urban planning under the Minsk City Executive Committee; Belarusian Union of Architects (BUA); The Ministry of Culture Committee Historical and Cultural Heritage Protection and Restoration; Belarusian National Technical University Architecture department; Belarusian State University Department of Arts and Centre for Visual Arts; Minsk voblasts Committee of Architecture “Design and Production Architecture and Planning Bureau”; Town Planning Department; A number of local architects and students.

    Sweden: Färgfabriken; The City Planning Office in Stockholm; The Office of Regional Planning in Stockholm; The Royal Academy of Technology in Stockholm; The Swedish Embassy in Minsk.

    Moldova: Oberliht.


    The text is an shortened, and partly re-written, version of the report "New Urban Topologies Minsk" by Rebecka Gordan.

    New Urban Topologies in Chișinău

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    On 13–15 October 2010 Färgfabriken jointly with its Moldovan partner Oberliht carried out an extensive program on urban topologies in Chişinău for city hall representatives, architects, urban planners, students and other interested participants. The aim of the initiative was to identify ways to strengthen positive values and transform challenges facing the city of Chişinău.

    Meeting Chisinau
    The starting point of the project New Urban Topologies (NUT) in Chişinău was a seminar in the City Hall. At the opening, the Swedish Ambassador to Moldova, Ingrid Tersman underlined the importance of an elaborate participatory process within the fields of architecture and city planning. The involvement of the people is the major challenge for planners, and a great opportunity for citizens to influence the future, she said. Chişinău’s Vice Mayor, architect Nistor Grozavu, stressed that the city need to pay more attention to the environment and the use of renewal energy. The transportation system needs to be developed and more parking lots included, he said, adding that another important topic is the preservation of the historical structures.

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    Involving more citizens in the planning process, as women and children, was another issue he found essential. The founder of Oberlicht, Vladimir Us explained how public spaces did not represent any value in the Soviet system, and that they after 1991 were taken over by commercial and political interests, which in turn has created a continuous excluding of the city dwellers. This is the reason for Oberliht to operate in public places and try to encourage participation at these sites, he said.The director of Färgfabriken, Joachim Granit, spoke on the projects of Färgfabriken and the history of Sweden, from the 1800s urban slums to 1960s massive housing projects to the segregation of today. NUT project director Thomas Lundh explained the working methods of Färgfabriken, which are focused on gathering of different kind of professionals for an exchange of experiences and ideas. Niklas Svensson from the City Planning Office in Stockholm spoke on the challenges and benefits of the city’s population growth, the planning tradition of Stockholm, the present structure of the planning process and future projects that will take place in the city. Mohamed El Abed from The Office of Regional Planning in Stockholm talked about the successful technological systems of the region, but also its lack of housing and problem with segregation. He also underlined the importance of preserving green spaces and the creation more meeting places for people of different background. Bojan Boric from The Royal Academy of Technology in Stockholm described the structure of the school and how it relates to urban design and planning. It is essential that the students learn how to read and present cities and that they are taught about the connections between the local and global level when it comes to cities, he said.

    Travelling through public space
    The second day, the participants visited a number of areas, places and monuments throughout the city in order to generate a discussion and new thoughts within the group. The route included 15 sites that had been picked by Oberliht with the aim of showing a wide spectrum of what the city of Chişinău is today. The excursion included an open space for contemporary art on a public square occupied by parked cars, a memorial complex in the shape of rifles from the Soviet times, informal spaces for street art in the city’s periphery, multi-storey Soviet buildings, urban gardening, and new residential luxury housing.

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    After the 15 sites were visited, a group discussion followed at the location of the last stop, Centro 73. The Moldovan participants were asked to contribute with topics and issues for the workshop the coming day, and most of the partakers did add a topic or question. On the basis of the presentations, the informal discussions that had taken place earlier and the suggested topics Färgfabriken and Oberliht summarized it all into three themes: Public Space for People; Ecology of resources; City of History – Looking Into the Future.

    There is a lot to discuss!
    The discussion on public spaces spontaneously led to the case of the main public square in the center of Chişinău, Piaţa Marii Adunări Naţionale. The team members concluded that the square today is very monumental, empty and uninviting––a space of politics, monuments, control and security. They perceived the square as a space that is difficult to access because of the wide roads in front and around it. I was also stated that any sorts of protests are not allowed and that only the government stages the cultural events that occur on the square. The participants were bothered by the presence of the commercial billboards that could be seen from the square. The subsequent discussion and sketches presenting the alternative spatial proposal reflected the need for making the square more public and to allow diverse public functions including music, public art, sport activities, free wi-fi internet, and cultural events that could happen more spontaneously and whose organization would include people of Chişinău.

    chisinau13

    The group that focused on the ecology of resources came to discuss the relation between the green structures and their surrounding areas and how these interact or not. Riscani Park, located in the northeast part of the city, was picked as an example. The team members proposed that this green space should be preserved and further developed into an area that the city dwellers can use and be proud of. Today, only parts of the park are used, which allows new constructions to be built on its unused grounds. This was something the participants sought to prevent. The recommended strategy included a protecting edging of ecological villas, a cleansing of water for urban fishing and a new meandering road crossing the park, which would connect neighborhoods and constitute an attraction itself. The team members agreed upon the statement to use the economic forces to develop the park and the surrounding areas. The affluent people that would live in the villas and the tourist visiting the park would function as the “guardians” of the park, the group argued. In line with this, central values for Chişinău were discussed. The city has been known for its large amount of green belts and parks. As the present pollution and many centrally located industrial areas make it hard to market the city as a sustainable and “green”, the group came to the conclusion that Chişinău could be internationally promoted as “The Forest City".

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    The group that focused on the historical city and its prospects for the future came to analyze many aspects within the theme. One focal point was architect Nicolae Ischimji’s proposal of a reconstruction of the street grid in the old town, which was destroyed by the construction of two main boulevards built after the Second World War. Another suggestion was to arrange architectural competitions, which, according to the group, does not take place in Moldova at the moment. This strategy could be used to support a more diverse architectural scene in Chişinău. Students should also be encouraged to participate in international competitions. The team members also saw the need for contemporary buildings that could interact in a better way with the historic parts of the city. Further suggestions included an aerial cableway for public transportation and a renewal of the areas surrounding the river Bic, where new boardwalks and a transformation of the mainly unused plants where vital parts.

    A city grown in the forest
    One of the important subject matters that came out of NUT was that a successful path in making Chişinău attractive to its own citizens and making the city appealing to foreign visitors might go hand-in-hand. The city needs cultural centers as well as better infrastructure. According to Mohamed El Abed, the city of Chişinău has a market value that combines the profile as a "city grown in the forest" as a way to draw tourism which at the same time could function as protection of green spaces for the city dwellers. the young people of Chişinău have a strong desire for an extended dialogue between citizens and decision makers and a greater transparency within processes of architecture, city planning and urban design. As Bojan Boric put it, "the issue of public space reflects the nature and the degree of development of democracy in every society".

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    Participants and contributors in NUT Chisinau:

    Moldova: Oberliht, The City of Chişinău, The Agency of Inspection and Restoration of Monuments, The Moldova State University, The Romanian Culture Insitute, ISP Industrial Project, Chişinău ecological map, Digger phenomenon, Squatting movement and several independent architects, students and citizens of Chisinau.

    Sweden: Färgfabriken, The City Planning Office in Stockholm, The Office of Regional Planning in Stockholm, The Royal Academy of Technology in Stockholm, Embassy of Sweden in Moldova.


    The text is an shortened, and partly re-written, version of the report "New Urban Topologies Chisinau" by Rebecka Gordan.

    New Urban Topologies in Skopje


      On 16–18 November 2011 Färgfabriken in conjunction with its Macedonian partner Press to Exit carried out an extensive program on urban topologies in Skopje for Swedish and Macedonian city hall representatives, architects, urban planners, academics, students and other interested participants. The aim of the initiative was to identify ways to strengthen culturally positive values and transform some of the many challenges facing the city of Skopje. An important goal was also to create a platform for an exchange of experiences among the participants.

      Background
      The city of Skopje is a mix of different styles and cultures. In recent years, the city centre has undergone a great change. Parts of the old town has been demolished and replaced with modern architecture. However, this has led to big demonstrations and expressions of dislike. The city is divided by the river Vardar, where one side consists of mostly Orthodox Christians and the other of the population with Albanian and Muslim background.

      The Skopje seminar
      The starting point of the New Urban Topologies (NUT) project in Macedonia was a reception at the residence of Swedish Ambassador of the Republic of Macedonia Anders Wahlund where city hall representatives, architects, urban planners, artists and academics were invited. The four-hour long seminar the next day, were students also were present, took place at the Plenary Hall of the City of Skopje. At the opening Yane Calovski of Press to Exit expressed his gratitude to the Faculty of Architecture at University St. Cyril and Methodius in Skopje for bringing in their research into the Färgfabriken method. The Faculty had come to the conclusion that Skopje is not a divided city, as often stated, but instead a city that should be looked at in the context of urban fragmentation. Yane Calovski said that two municipalities had been chosen for the Skopje NUT project, namely Centar and Chair.

      skopje05

      Swedish Ambassador of Macedonia Anders Wahlund said he was very happy to take part in the NUT project. He described his history working in the Balkans since the 1990s and said when in Skopje 2002, the city was much more divided than today and that the present situation is much better, even if he would like to see more efforts to improve the condition of the old town in the city, The Old Bazaar.

      NUT Project Director Thomas Lundh gave an introduction to NUT and its background with ten years of experience working with urban issues since Färgfabriken launched the project Stockholm at Large. Since then, the method of Färgfabriken has been to gather different kind of professionals and stakeholders from many countries for a more fruitful exchange of experiences and ideas.

      Christoffer Carlander, Urban Planning Strategist from The City Planning Office in Stockholm described the structure of his institution and the City’s latest comprehensive plan, The Walkable City, and its focus on strategic nodes, connecting districts and participatory processes. The aim of the planners has been to reach out to the inhabitants and meet them on their own terms, when and wherever they wanted. After he finished, the audience had many questions regarding visibility, transparency and tools to integrate the thoughts of the citizens as well as the visions of the City into the strategic plan.

      Architect and Educator Bojan Boric from the Urban Studio of the Royal Academy of Technology discussed the growing trend of environmental and social sustainability and how the school takes this knowledge into many exchange programs with other schools around the world in order to achieve a comparative perspective. He also described a project where his studio in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity worked with Roma people in Skopje. Furthermore he notified the audience of the student project in Chisinau earlier in fall 2011 – a project sparked by his involvement in NUT – and the gap between the planning office and the society there.

      Ognen Marina, professor at the Faculty of Architecture of University St. Cyril and Methodius in Skopje, explained how the geopolitical context historically has affected the city and stated that a general problem always has been a top-down planning system. Together with PhD Candidate Jovan Ivanovski he then presented the research Skopje: Fragmented City. The conclusion of this study was that Skopje is not a divided city but should to be described as a complex stratification of different layers and fragments that should be seen as parts of a holistic image of Skopje. Furthermore, the informal use of urban space should be seen as an asset and a tool for bringing in different concepts, not solely a problem. They also underlined the importance of keeping what already exists in Skopje and not create an entire new city, which might be about to happen. The fragments have valuable authenticity.

      Aljosha Shopar, Deputy Head at the Urban Planning Department, City of Skopje, told the audience about the present process in making a new master plan. One of the goals is to make use of the unexploited spaces and by doing so connecting the city. Among the present problems are the lack of infrastructure, the fact that 80-90 percent of the land is privately owned and the future of the existing and potential public spaces, as the inhabitants seem not no care about these spaces according to him. In line with this, democratic participatory processes and strategies also need to evolve so that the planners can use these strategies properly and not only see them as obstacles. In addition, he said that he hoped that the NUT project and the collaboration with the university would result in something the planning department could use in the future.

      The Skopje Tour – impressions and aftermath
      After the seminar, the plan was to visit a number of areas and places in the municipalities of Centar and Chair in order to get an understanding of their structure and the urban fragments that were identified by the Faculty of Architecture in their research. After the tour was finished the participants gathered for dinner in The Old Bazaar. Färgfabriken had prepared a sheet with possible themes and sub themes, based of the presentations during the seminar, the preparatory work of the university and informal discussions with the Macedonian participants. The sheet sparked many discussions and was modified collaboratively. The final version had the following themes: 1. Unidentifiable Spaces (Mapping relations of areas; Contextualizing; What narrative by whom?; Specific qualities; Level of intervention; Potential uses and possible danger; Designing an interface.) 2. Spaces of Publicness and the Process of Dialogue (Access to the decision-making processes and public debates; Green spaces as ecological and environmental asset in the city as well as public space; Communication between professional actors, the public and the decision makers; The thoughts and preferrings of citizens.) 3. Identifying the City (The multiplicity of the city and complex urban identities within; Opportunities and energy of the city; Values that promote the communication and collaboration among citizens; Architectural values of the past – how to measure architectural heritage; Choosing a strategy for the future; Construction of identity or strengthen authenticity.) 4. Public Values versus Private Ambitions (Urban regulations policies; The long term planning; Dynamics between the private property development vs. public interest.)

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      The team members that that focused on unidentifiable spaces described a situation with many mainly unused spaces that people have difficulties to relate to as they have unclear boundaries. Among them is the space under and on top of the train station, areas that they choose as case study. The station is seen as a barrier between neighborhoods. It has two large elevated tracks that have never been used and large empty spaces underneath, some used for parking. The areas are seen as unattractive and shady and are used only by some “outcasts”. The group suggested a transformation “from empty spaces to social spaces”, as a skate park, restaurants, etc. The visions of the group were an inclusive process of planning and a greener city where the tools of architects are better utilized. The way to achieve this, they thought, goes through cheap urban interventions executed through participatory processes including the academia, planners and inhabitants. It could also be so called guerilla actions, as painting parking lots all over the main public square or putting traditional market bookstands where new commercial buildings are planned to be raised. This would raise the attention of the public and so create pressure on politicians.

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      The participants who discussed ways to identify the city saw many identities that are not part of the common language describing Skopje, among them is the Roma neighborhood. The group underlined the importance of accepting that the city has many and complex identities, visible and invisible, and that the planning of the city should be performed in accordance to this. They pointed out some good and bad aspects, among them a diverse coexistence, a unique city center, bad infrastructure, and nationalistic architecture. The participants were also worried that the politicians now try to construct a single identity for the city and its inhabitants, raising new historical large statues, among other things. In this process the team members recognized the value of preserving and evaluate architectural heritage and sites of memory – and the danger in destroying these in order to construct something new.

      A story to be continued
      The last day the participants from Sweden met with Ognen Marina from the Faculty of Architecture, Yane Calovski from Press to Exit, and Aljosha Shopar from the Urban Planning Department. He explained the challenges that the City is facing. Skopje has a lack in infrastructure, of investments, and a problem with privatization. The Planning Department is loosing its tools to act and influence the decisions regarding the city, but hopefully, with the new master plan, perhaps things can change.

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      The following discussion led to a comparison to the Stockholm planning strategies, and the existing and non-existing collaborations among different stakeholders in Skopje, as NGO:s, architects, officials, and the academia. During the final discussion at the NUT workshop Thomas Lundh concluded that the lack of communication between different stakeholders is a crucial aspect in the city of Skopje.


      Participants and contributors in Skopje:

      Macedonia: Press to Exit Project Space; Urban Planning Department; City of Skopje; Urban Planning Department; Municipality Centar; Urban Planning Department; Municipality Chair; University St. Cyril and Methodius in Skopje; Faculty of Architecture; Line Initiative and Movement; Coalition for Sustainable Development.

      Sweden: Färgfabriken; The Swedish Embassy in Republic of Macedonia; The Swedish Institute; The City Planning Office in Stockholm; The Royal Academy of Technology in Stockholm


      The text is an shortened, and partly re-written, version of the report "New Urban Topologies Skopje" by Rebecka Gordan.
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