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Competition: Feroviar Park, Cluj-Napoca, Romania

The City Hall of Cluj-Napoca has launched an international contest to renew and upgrade its historic Feroviar Park

The anonymous competition, organised by the Romanian Order of Architects, seeks innovative proposals to restore and enhance the rundown 5.4 hectare city centre green space overlooking the River Somes which was created in the 1950s and formerly known as the Railway Workers Park.

The project will boost usage of the park, create new connections with the neighbouring river, deliver a new multi-functional green space for the local community and increase the ecological qualities of the area.

Feroviar Park, Cluj-Napoca

Feroviar Park, Cluj-Napoca

Feroviar Park, Cluj-Napoca

According to the brief: ‘The area of influence of the park is characterized by both great spatial and functional complexity and an accentuated urban dynamics. The transforming and polarizing force is the presence itself of a green space of significant size, bordering the Somes River, at the confluence of commercial, residential and leisure interests.

‘It is anticipated that significant changes will occur in the next decade at the level of both functional and anthropogenic landscape, a characteristic that cannot be attributed to so many areas in the city of Cluj-Napoca. Consequently, the design solution should offer more than just an arrangement applicable to the present situation, but to provide a prototype of public green space, adapted to the present time and at the same time adaptable to future circumstances that are sustainable in economical, landscape, ecological and social-cultural terms.’

Cluj-Napoca, also known as Cluj, is the fourth largest city in Romania and the unofficial capital of the historic province of Transylvania. Today the settlement is a major academic, cultural, industrial and business hub with a population of around 420,000 people.

The 5.4 hectare Feroviar Park was created on a prominent site a short distance from Cluj-Napoca’s main train station in the 1950s. Surrounded by housing, the large open green space features a football pitch but is otherwise largely overgrown and dilapidated.

Feroviar Park, Cluj-Napoca

Feroviar Park, Cluj-Napoca

Feroviar Park, Cluj-Napoca

The project aims to create a new exemplar for the regeneration of compact green spaces within an urban setting. Potential new features include an outdoor theatre, exhibition area, bird watching area and covered pavilions.

Other new additions to the park could include a promenade, children’s playground, fishing area, and an exercise space. Food and retail pavilions may also be created.

Proposals will be expected to boost connections to surrounding amenities including the train station, River Somes, Slaughter House Square, and nearby housing developments.

The competition language is English and the overall winner, to be announced 29 May, will receive 555,450 RON and the design contract. A second place prize of 35,000 RON and third place prize of 20,000 RON will also be awarded.

How to apply

Deadline

The deadline for submissions is 4pm local time on 23 May

Contact details

Cluj-Napoca Municipality
3 Calea Moților
Cluj-Napoca
Cluj County
Romania

Tel. +40-264 596030
Email: dezvoltare@primariaclujnapoca.ro

Visit the competition website for more information

Q&A with Serban Tiganas

The president of the Romanian Order of Architects discusses his ambitions for the competition

Serban Tiganas

Serban Tiganas

Serban Tiganas

Why are your holding an international competition to renew and upgrade Feroviar Park?

We are convinced that the best way to generate very good quality solutions for public space design is the architectural design competition. We are committed to develop a culture of architectural competitions and we succeed in those cities where the administrations understand the advantages of organizing a good competition. Cluj is such a city which signed with the Order of Architects a protocol for generating public project trough design competitions under OAR standards. You only realize that a design proposal seems to be the best one if you can compare it with other tentative. In European Union all competitions are international from access perspective, but we also created more attractive conditions by translating all documents in English.

What is your vision for the new park?

We think the park should respond both to neighbours and whole city users, because of it’s central position, being also close to the Central railway station and along the river. It should be a real park and not a collection of sports or amusement facilities. We miss a park in the proper sense in Cluj-Napoca. Therefore, there is a tendency to overdesign and densify, we should avoid here. The project covers almost 6 hectares of land and includes a river bank on the vest edge. The sustainability of the solution should refer to the selected plants, low maintenance and long life, and to the usage scenarios for which a flexible approach of the spatial design will be appreciated. Prior to the competition launch different experiments and exercises where performed in the area, involving citizens, children, and artists to exploit the potential by temporary project and to explore different scenarios. All experiments are documented and offered to the competitors for inspiration.

Feroviar Park, Cluj-Napoca

Feroviar Park, Cluj-Napoca

Feroviar Park, Cluj-Napoca

What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?

We look for teams for integrated design, architects, designers, landscape architects, sociologists, anthropologists. Of course, young teams have the opportunity and will be certainly some of the most numerous and important competitors. This is how a career starts many times, after winning a competition for a public project. Specialized media and general media is always promoting and mentioning the winners of design competition. We will also increase the visibility for the winning teams in the professional environment.

Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?

We are very advanced in the preparation of two more competitions for public space with the City of Cluj-Napoca. One is for a redesign for pedestrians of one of the most beautiful historical streets in the city center. The other is a design for a public area included in the Vauban type citadel situated on the top of the hill, close to the city center. Beside these, we will prepare with the county of Cluj two other competitions for important public buildings. A hospital and an extension of the headquarter of the County Council of Cluj.

Feroviar Park, Cluj-Napoca

Feroviar Park, Cluj-Napoca

Feroviar Park, Cluj-Napoca

Are there any other similar urban park upgrade projects you have been impressed by?

Many good projects are presented in the European Prize for Public Spaces. I personally like the Promenada Velenje project in Slovenia, by ENOTA, from 2016, but there are a lot of very good examples every edition. In the last years several projects from Romania have been shortlisted even if sometimes interventions are tiny.

Warrior Square Gardens case study: Q&A with Steve Wardell

The managing partner at Gillespies discusses lessons learned restoring and upgrading Warrior Square Gardens in Southend

Steve Wardell

Steve Wardell

Steve Wardell

How did your project restore and enhance Southend’s historic Warrior Square Gardens?

The regeneration of Warrior Square Gardens marked an important milestone in the revival of Southend. The gardens offer a vibrant green space in what had previously been a neglected Victorian square and have proved popular with the public since their opening.

The gardens are primarily an invitation to relax and escape the hustle of the busy town. The restorative benefit of green nature in urban centres cannot be underestimated. The scale and arrangement of the many existing trees set against the open expansiveness and tapering perspective of the lawn are some of the greatest attributes of the Gardens and provide the structure to the reconfigured landscape structure. The opportunity to pause and appreciate a natural green space is vital to understanding and appreciating the changing seasons and promoting ecological and environmental awareness within the centre of the town. These are some of the core benefits of a reinvigorated Warrior Square Gardens.

Attractive public spaces are central to people’s quality-of-life and the perception of a town. Not simply visually compelling, they help provide vital and stimulating environments that measure the success of a place, provide a recreational function for residents, encourage local pride, support local businesses and help attract more visitors and tourists. As a green space, the contribution to outdoor activity and ecology is a key sustainable driver in any landscape design.

Warrior Square Gardens by Gillespies

Warrior Square Gardens by Gillespies

Warrior Square Gardens by Gillespies

Which architectural, material, visual and other methods did you harness in your design?

In developing an approach to the redesign of the Gardens, Gillespies remained true to the spirit and essence of a traditional garden square by establishing a clear threshold around a retained open central lawn. The replacement of the aged and overgrown borders with a more compelling multi‑functional frame around the gardens clearly defines the edges of this green space, offering a new expansive entrance square, an elevated Lime walk along the northern edge of the gardens with a defining component - the long bench and feature lighting- below the line of Lime trees.. To the south the boundary is defined with a floral walk. The gardens retain their sense of detachment from the surrounding urban environment, whilst upgrading and updating its uses and functions, reinterpreting the gardens and improving their relevance.

The new layout is carefully structured around some of Southend’s finest trees, with perimeter walks and views celebrating the dominant line of original lime trees as well as majestic Pine and Cedar trees. In the true spirit of Southend’s heyday, residents and tourists to the town now have an invitation to walk in the middle of a traditional English floral border, stroll along the lime walk, sit beneath a canopy of majestic Lime trees, and picnic on the lawn.

Warrior Square Gardens by Gillespies

Warrior Square Gardens by Gillespies

Warrior Square Gardens by Gillespies

From the outset, Gillespies responded to the structure of the historical layout, recomposing the familiar elements of an English Garden Square, with lawn, planting beds, seating, lighting, a focal point and boundaries, but for contemporary use. The replacement of the old overgrown borders with a multi-functional frame around the Gardens marks the extent of this green space, offering a new expansive entrance square, an elevated lime walk along the northern edge of the Gardens with long feature benches and a floral walk to the south.

The improved Gardens therefore retain a strong sense of nature and detachment from the surrounding urban environment, while updating their use. The simple open lawn surrounded by active edges for al fresco dining, seating and strolling has once again placed Warrior Square Gardens at the centre of town life.

Warrior Square Gardens by Gillespies

Warrior Square Gardens by Gillespies

Warrior Square Gardens by Gillespies