Autori principali: arh. Marius Miclaus

Coautori: arh. urb. Teodora Constantinescu, arh. urb. Dragos Nistor, urb. Mihai Danciu, arh. Jan Jaroslav Vanko

Colaboratori arhitectură: stud. arh. Roberto Suharu, stud. arh. Iulia Ilie, arh. Andreea Morarescu, arh. Cosmin Morarescu, 
arh. Alexandra Stan

Colaboratori specialități: peisag. Bogdan Popa, peisag. Andrada Sfahiu, stud. arh. Alexandru Zaharia (imagistica)

Asociere: FUNDATIA ARCHAEUS, lider de asociere, 50% și SC EXPLORE ARCHITECTURE CONTINUOUSLY SRL, asociat, 50%

Planșa 1

Landscape, mobility and densification _ guiding principles for a participatory urban development in Sopor!

There is a pressing need for a paradigm shift in urban management and urban planning. In todays’ connected world, urban design can no longer be addressed from a singular top down perspective, but should result from an open and multilayered network of creative designers, technical experts, citizens and stakeholders.

We propose a holistic approach to urban sustainability within the spheres of: society, economy, environment and politics - to determine specific solutions and areas of action for Sopor. Four main principles stand at the base of the urban development strategy of the neighborhood: 

  • Landscape as a carrying structure for urbanization 
  • Mobility as guiding line for an integrated development 
  • Densification strategies - dynamics and mechanisms for a qualitative densification 
  • Participation - Sopor, a neighborhood built on relationships 

The ambition to densify Sopor demands new dwelling solutions and innovative typologies, as well as reimagining the relationships between built and open spaces, if the administration wants to achieve attractive living environments. However, the pressing question revolves around: How can we overcome the difficulties presented by the ownership patterns of this area? Besides thinking new spatial models, the housing production itself needs to be rethought as a chain of decisions and actions that generate the conditions allowing for smart solutions to emerge. Reflecting on ways to generate conditions favorable to a sustainable urban development of the neighborhood –and a set of new tools and processes to assist it – stands at the core of this project. 

We investigate the roles of operational instruments as crucial segments in the interplay between policy and inhabitants, between housing forms and housing production. The way in which the actors in the field perceive certain developments can limit or facilitate opportunities. On the one hand, we departed from this specific angle to formulate tangible innovative proposals that can help reimagine and reactivate the housing production. On the other hand we aim to open up the conversation to all actors involved by implementing a specific approach in which the operational dynamics, spatial proposals and financial instruments are seen, visualized and discussed as a complex interplay, thus taking further steps towards a more integrated and integral housing policy in which spatial solutions are developed in conjunction with policies and operational actions. 

Rather than an autonomous solution, we see the development of Sopor part of a process of carefully understanding the natural elements of the area, complemented with an urban mediation program in order to drastically increase the speed and variety of the densification as well as the sites’ diversity.  

“The good city is one in which the continuity of complex ecology is maintained while progressive change is permitted” (Lynch, Good City Form). 

Planșa 2

1. Landscape as a carrying structure for urbanization 

We based our reasoning on a process oriented approach to work with nature. This translates into placing little burden on the local environment by using natural processes and local species to create an abundant urban  ecosystem. Besides protecting the existing natural dynamics against the new development, the aim here is to make the neighborhood itself more ecological. We do so by inserting the proposed built fabric into a dense green mesh enhancing existing latent ‘blue corridors’. This will transform Sopor into a porous system of buildings and open spaces, of blue and green, a system that addresses the workings of climate, water and living organisms. 

The approach is to retain and develop contrast between blue and green natural infrastructures to ensure a mix of dynamic urban life and quiet places The quality of urban life depends on the opportunity to live on the border between these two worlds. 

To achieve this balance, a continuity must be created between the new neighborhood and the existing metropolitan green tissue. We propose an ‘urban forest’ Park, an important neighborhood space connected to the city scale green infrastructure. This will provide Cluj with a system of parks from Sopor, through the East Park, along the Somes river, all the way to the Citadel. 

We imagine the park guided by three main defining elements: 

  • The need of ‘new’ woods to address climate change challenges, increase and reinforce biodiversity.  This will permit the development of new habitats and biotic relations and will maintain the possibility of an evolving nature.  
  • A strong west – east connection between the Becas water stream and the water stream that runs at the east of the military barrack. 
  • A versatile strip to connect the system of public amenities to the dispersed public spaces. This translates into cluster formations under the form of social nodes that accommodate the required functions.

2. Mobility as guiding line for an integrated development 

One of the main challenges was to satisfy the need to link Sopor to the other parts of Cluj and the region, in a sustainable widespread manner. We thus propose a web that gives equal importance to the slow-green movement networks as to the arteries that support fast movements, returning new value to all the different infrastructural levels that form the neighborhood area. We envision a mobility network that responds to the stringent issues affecting the environment as much as society and the economy. 

The different areas of the site are connected through a continuous network of soft mobility (bike/pedestrian paths), leaving space for, and supporting the informal meetings of people. This creates a dynamic rhythm of activities and interactions. Equally, it generates a green infrastructure that functions as a continuous loop across the entire neighbourhood, linking all the public spaces. In order to stimulate a lower use of private cars we carefully treat the street profiles and accesses to the plots.  All these alternative means of transport are introduced in parallel with a series of regulations to the existing General Urban Plan, in order to increase the use of both public and soft transport (bicycle use, e-scooters, etc.). 

From a long term perspective on the mobility network scenario, we are sensitive to the intention of the National Railway Company to upgrade the existing rail infrastructure to sustain high speed trains and to complete the rail link Budapesta (HU) – Cluj (RO). As such, the public transport network we propose for Sopor foresees the connection to this larger scale. 

Planșa 3

3. Densification strategies - dynamics and mechanisms for a qualitative densification 

The challenge here is to design a neighborhood that will connect people to each other and to the everyday life around them as space comes into place. Sustainability is one key aspect in this dialogues: social, ecological, economic and politic sustainability. The challenge of increased urbanization is to develop systems that are capable to create urban symbioses. We identify and define a cohabitation scheme at the scale of the neighborhood and further detail a set of guiding principles that can sustain a high quality life sustainable urban densification.  

Based on these dynamics, we propose a number of tools and mechanisms that can induce and accelerate the densification process. The mechanisms will  engage various promoters and partners in different types of scenarios to tackle the challenge of densification, to remove barriers, concerns and obstacles on the level of the government, the residents and of various institutions. 

4. Participation - Sopor, a neighborhood built on relationships 

We propose a set of Strategies for Cohabitation for the development of Sopor. These strategies are meant to ease the dialogue between different actors to generate socially just and environmentally responsible projects by designing and developing strategies focused on:

  • Understanding the complex ecology of the neighborhood its urban system and its connection to the rest of the city. 
  • Producing new spatial relations involving citizens
  • Devising non-speculative and shared ownership property models to promote equitable and just urban environments
  • Transforming everyday life by creating new social relations
  • Developing emancipatory and cooperative economic processes by using people’s knowledge, local skills and available resources
  • Formulating actionable pilot public programs and policies involving decision-making and cooperation at different governance levels
  • Envisioning new collective urban imaginaries 

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