Compared with other cities in Romania, Timisoara seems to be doing just fine: it’s been praised in recent years by its accelerated economic growth and increased attractiveness to new residents. In 2016, the city won a fierce national competition to become European Capital of Culture in 2021.
However, this growth has also meant the city has to deal with some new challenges: economic pressures to supply work force, urban sprawl, lowering life quality due to traffic and pollution, decaying heritage buildings, and growing racism and intolerance towards vulnerable social groups – Roma, homeless, migrants – are just some of them.
To make it worse, the city is not prepared for natural disasters: in 2017, a severe windstorm killed two people, damaged thousands of roofs (most of them in historical districts) and left tens of thousands of households without electricity for several days, showing how vulnerable and unprepared the city is.
With their project, Team Timisoara is putting the topic of urban resilience on the local agenda, forming professional networks in order to strengthen knowledge and cross-sector cooperation.
The project will map relevant stakeholders, tools and opportunities to tackle the Romanian city’s vulnerabilities and increase the interest of decision makers, researchers, building professionals, and homeowners to understand the city.
After conducting research on the field of urban resilience to potential disasters as well as to other city challenges at the global and European level, the team launched the Resilience Lab Timisoara, a working group that introduces the topic of urban resilience locally, creating a platform for dialogue and cross-sector cooperation.
“With our combined energy, expertise and ideas, we map relevant stakeholders, data, tools and opportunities that help us understand chronic stresses and acute shocks our city might experience and explore ways to strengthen its capacity to survive, adapt, and grow.”
During two weeks in the summer, the lab’s Healing Grid Workshops brought together urban planners, IT specialists, landscape designers, engineers, geographers, academics and citizens to work on solutions for expanding the green infrastructure of the city. With workshops on spatial analysis, 3D mapping, a landscape study and a tactical intervention, they aimed to transform Timisoara’s grid of drainage channels into a blue-green network with landscaping, ecological, recreational and health promoting values.
The group published the results of the workshop in a good practice guide for the development of ecological corridors, and presented the work to public sector representatives at the Timisoara City Hall.