The intervention area and its integration on the city
Urban fragmentation, was identified at different levels:
- At the city level – although relatively close to the city center, the area is spatially isolatedfrom the city centre and the whole southernpart of the city due to the existing physicalbarriers such as railway lines, adjacent predominantly area built up with warehouses(from south, east and north), multilevel junction (southeast of Nadezhda), and generallack of pedestrian friendly crossings.
- At the district level – Planned according to the concept of the microregion during the 1960-1980, the area nowadays suffers a major division due to the profile of boulevards (Lomsko shose, Rozhen and General Nikola Zhekov) and their inconvenient crossing leading to jaywalking at several points as well as scarce number of bridges providing the crossing of the corrected river bed of Suhodolska river.
- At the neighborhood level – abundant interblock spaces which are pinched aroundblock edges or next to high rise multifamily blocks of flats where parking space does notanswer to the motorization rate. A much denser pedestrian network than the initiallyplanned one responded to residents’ diversified needs since the 1990s and searchedfor walking convenience. An increase of pedestrian flows between the neighboring housing estates is now motivated by thediversity of services and personal motivations.
- Along the corridor axis – specific accumulationof all of the barriers mentioned above betweenpark Nadezhda and Severen park and beyond,all of which are addressed by the concept of the route intended to link and bridge the divided parts through a walkable Healthy Corridor with four areas of intervention along its axis.
The urban project of the Sofia Healthy Corridor focuses on building green connections, understandings, co-implementation and use of public spaces. The involvement of citizens in the creation of living public spaces is expected to contribute to overcoming urban fragmentation by removing physical and symbolic barriers to their use, protection of the environment and maintenance of inter-block spaces.
The Healthy Corridor in Sofia is a “green connection” designed as a pedestrian path in the public urban space, that connects the neighborhoods between themselves and the surrounding urban environment. It connects different NBSs developed through collaborative practices and included in the catalog, as well as solutions proposed by the citizens in the co-selection process. In this way, the focus is on the quality of life of citizens in relation to energy, water, food, nature, mobility, participation, behaviorchange, digital democracy, social cohesion and the solidarity economy. The Healthy Corridor (HC)is planned and will be built by testing an innovativeand inclusive methodology for renovation of the selected peripheral neighborhoods in seven European cities. The creation of the HC in Sofia through NBSs implementation will take place through creative thinking.
In order to start URBINAT in Sofia with the “Living Laboratory” and the research, design and then construction works for the implementation of the infrastructural elements of the Sofia HC, it was necessary to specify the main environmentally friendly solutions that will be implemented. This “green corridor of health” will be an urban environment of new quality, created through the implementation of environmentally friendly solutions, which will become “living laboratories” for testing and developing new urban solutions.
Healthy Corridor Concept
A Healthy Corridor pathway is being co-crated as a metaphorical ‘meandering river’ connecting Severen Park and Park Nadezhda, thereby cutting mainly through the involved housing developments’ undefined and under-used spaces, expanded with four areas of intervention along its axis. This linear park/path structure has a length of 2.5 kilometres, along which these four ‘thematic’ intervention zones are appointed: ‘Co-Place’, ‘Health Energy’, ‘Aqua Vita’ and ‘Green Assembly’. Whereas the HC frameworks in Porto and Nantes are elaborated as ‘branched’ networks, the Sofia HC is clearly articulated as a linear and meandering framework, designed as a linear park, accompanied by four thematic zones of intervention. Evidently, the main path is crossed by other path trajectories and can expand organically (or planned) with additional crossing branches. By combining an explicit linear and meandering framework, external passage through the neighbourhood is also aimed for, and mixed with the local thematic interventions along this main axis. Hence, the aim is explicitly to mix varying urban scales and contexts, thereby opening the appropriation of the created collective spaces (i.e. paths, nodes, intervention plots) to a larger urban scale than merely the local scale.
During the co-diagnostic stage, analyses were conducted at three levels: city, district, and URBiNAT study area. Except the conducted analysis and evaluation of the biophysical characteristics, the green structure, the biodiversity, and the land-cover, the territorial analysis in the first stage of the local diagnostic focused on the transportation network and services, the local masterplans, and the urban/landscape design projects. The social description explored the demographic data and information on safety and health, summarized the perceptions and demonstrated participatory culture, and compiled a description of the public services in the district. Income, employment, activity sectors and available facilities were also addressed as part of the economic description of Nadezhda district.The Local Diagnostic Part 2 zoomed in over the study area where the Healthy corridor is planned to be implemented. This zooming in over the area and the neighbourhoods of Tolstoy, Nadezhda 2, Nadezhda 1, Svoboda and Triagalnika neighbourhoods and Park Nadezhda was based on the project ambitions to achieve a level of detail that would impact and involve the communities whose lives can be improved by URBiNAT’s goals and lines of action.
The approach applied to evaluate the impact ofURBiNAT interventions in the study area and promote the transition from co-diagnostic to co-design comprised 5 steps:
- Analyzing the local diagnostic results to identify local needsrelevant to URBiNAT project;
- Relating the findings to the broader frame of contemporary urban challenges (as outlined in Eclipse typology);
- Describing the key activities chosen to addressspecific local needs and demands in the study area;
- Defining expected impacts, and relevant criteria to evaluate action effectiveness in addressing one or several challenges;
- Developing an indicators set related to availableinformation sources, type and scope of impact, and monitoring procedures. CO-DESIGN proposalswere then developed to be integrated into the urban plan.
- Developing climate change adaptation; improving risk management and resilience
- Developing climate change mitigation
- Greater ecological connectivity across urban regenerated sites
- Changing image of the urban environment
- Increase accessibility to green open spaces
- Increase communities’ sense of ownership
- Increase stakeholder awareness & knowledge about NBS
- Increase willingness to invest in NBS
- Social inclusion
- Social learning about location & importance of NBS
Milena Tasheva – Petrova (UACEG)
Elena Dimitrova (UACEG)
Angel Burov (UACEG)
Irina Mutafchiiska (UACEG)
Beata Tsoneva (Sofia Municipality)
Veneta Zlatiniva – Pavlova (Sofia Municipality)
Velin Kirov (Sofia Municipality)