Since 2010, the World Bank has partnered with the Austrian Government in the Urban Partnership Program (UPP) aimed to strengthen the capacity of local governments, to support cities in a process of modernization and reform and to promote and enhance urban development and governance in cities and municipalities of South-East Europe (SEE). The main idea in the current phase is to continue building leadership capacities of senior officials through various activities and implement EU standards with the final objective of achieving sustainable development. The Program is piloting participatory approaches in Serbia through supporting participatory planning and placemaking capacity building in major cities of Serbia, including Belgrade, Nis and Novi Sad.
The first Placemaking workshop was held in Nis in June 2018, and around 40 participants from Nis, Novi Sad and Belgrade were introduced to and trained in placemaking techniques and how to use them in their daily work. The second workshop, held in Belgrade in September 2019, was focusing on applying the learned placemaking tools in a real case study for the City of Belgrade. The participants comprised urban planners, architects, landscape architects, local economic development officers, city officials, young professionals/academics, Civil Society Organizations, and representatives from the local government association of Serbia and the Ministry of Construction, Infrastructure and Transport. They joined together to learn about the potentials of placemaking and people centered urban planning in general, and link them to the concept of Transport Oriented Development (TOD).
The main objectives of this workshop were to strengthen the capacity of urban planners and associated officials in the area of participatory planning, to introduce new tools and approaches in planning and to develop and organize a participatory planning intervention that addresses the local challenges and builds on the opportunities of an area within one urban neighborhood in the City of Belgrade. The workshop was designed and delivered in collaboration with Roland Krebs, Mara Haas and Katarina Sesic, urban planners/academics from the Vienna University of Technology, Austria and Superwien Urbanism, Vienna. A step-by-step guidebook on placemaking will be developed as a result of this process. The guidebook will cover general placemaking strategies for cities and public spaces around railway stations in the context of Transit oriented Development (TOD).
The workshop introduced placemaking as an innovative planning approach, a method to transform a space into a place, a method where a public space is being activated and made more attractive by and for the local residents and entrepreneurs. Placemaking was introduced as an additional tool for urban development and a strategy for co-creation, which focuses on economic and social well-being and quality of life. It is a strategy for coping with urban problems and the actions to be taken in a neglected area with the aim of upgrading and revitalizing it. As both an overarching idea and a hands-on approach for improving a neighborhood, city, or region, placemaking inspires people to collectively reimagine and reinvent public spaces.
After the introductory session on the first day of the workshop, the participants learned more about Transit Oriented Development, a planning and design strategy that focuses on creating urban development patterns which facilitate the use of public transit, walking and cycling as primary modes of transport and which supports vibrant, diverse and livable communities. For the purposes of this workshop, the concept of TOD was linked to the principles of placemaking, as one of the important tools for achieving successful city projects. A variety of good local and international examples and practices were shared during the workshop. Participants were also introduced to the 8 TOD principles that can be implemented on the regional, corridor and station levels. They align human and economic densities on mass transit lines and nodes to ensure greater accessibility, thus creating compact regions with short commutes and ensuring resilience for the areas connected by mass transit. TOD should create vibrant, people-centric public spaces around mass transit stations.
Participants also had the opportunity to test some of the learned Placemaking tools using a case study in the city of Belgrade, which was the basis for the walk-on sessions that followed. During the Walkshop and Place Game sessions, the participants were divided into five different groups, each focusing on one particular case study area (Marsala Birjuzova and Sremska streets, plateau and corner of Sremska Street, passage from Sremska to Zeleni Venac and Zeleni Venac bus station area). An extensive list of results and recommendations was created based on the analysis of the gathered questionnaire responses and observations, as well as possible intervention and improvement areas for each of the public spaces.
A film screening at the local Remont gallery was organized during the afternoon to show and discuss a couple of short documentary films about topics similar to Placemaking. The first movie played was ´Open Book Shelf´, a film by Yilmaz Vurucu, from Austria. The storyline was about a small street library where people could exchange or borrow books. The second film was ‘Stara Trznica`, produced by Eutropian for Open Heritage. It shows the activation of an old market hall in Bratislava, Slovakia, which was closed to the public for many years.
During day two of the workshop, participants continued to work on their case study by creating a Project Framework for the entire planning area. Lastly, the Role Play session produced possible insights in potential stakeholders’ perspectives on different activation scenarios. It was very helpful and interesting to see how different stakeholders like students, retirees, business owners, elderly women and parents may react to different outcomes and ideas for space improvement.
The workshop in Belgrade generated great interest and participants appreciated the inputs and information shared, as well as the positive energy and new knowledge which they are eager to apply in their future work. The expectations of the workshop, which were identified at the beginning of the workshop, were fulfilled: The participants gained new knowledge and shared their experiences. They learned new tools that follow a citizens-oriented, participatory and creative approach. By testing the new tools in the local context, a common vision for this planning area was created, but participants also got new ideas and inspiration for their own projects in their home towns.
The most useful and easily applicable parts for the participants were collective brainstorming and dialogue between different cities, sharing of ideas and innovative approaches. This is why UPP plans to continue with a follow up practical, implementation centered workshop in Novi Sad, which will focus on a topic that fits well with the local situation and will also bring into action additional placemaking concepts and techniques and participatory planning methods.
WB_UPP_Placemaking Workshop - Annex 1_Toolbox
WB_UPP_Placemaking Workshop - Annex 2_Placemaking and TOD Input session
WB_UPP_Placemaking Workshop - Enabling TOD in Belgrade Placemaking workshop 19. 09. 2019.