Dambovita Smart River started from the realisation that one of Romania’s biggest competitive assets in the global economy is its natural environment, large natural forest areas in the mountains, complex wet ecosystems in the Danube Delta, large agricultural fields in disuse, and so on. A wide variety of natural environments, which ironically are excluded from the day by day routines of Bucharest.
Dambovita, once entering in the city becomes an aqueduct without much background of its formal trajectory from the mountains. Hereby remains a latent possibility for future development: The need to rethink the river profile as a spine for a new ecological approach. However, by ecological we mean not only the strategic use of the natural environment as a tool to reshape the cityscape, but also the functions, the economics, and the social components.
These are the aims of Dambovita Smart River platform, a coalition of private and civil society organisation who works on increasing public awareness regarding the river’s potential for the wider urban development, introducing the subject in the municipality priority list and ultimately developing the strategic points outlined in our common vision document.
Dambovita Smart River strategic objectives:
To rethink the Dambovita landscape not as a background scenario, but as a surface, a complex urban ecosystem based on the interaction of different spatial structures (natural and artificial infrastructures), functions, programs and urban actors (citizens, users, visitors and developers)
To build up a process of intervention which takes into consideration the sites strengths, such as the existing real estate developments, retail, cultural and educational institutions on its borders, and the capacity to extend this programs through and towards the river.
To generate a grid based strategy, analysing the possibilities of creating new corridors and enhancing the current ones using the existing actors and their potential to modify their surrounding environments.
Since the summer of 2015, Dambovita Smart River platform has organised a series of public events trying to raise awareness and enlarge its initial network of members.
In June 2015 we organised the first edition of UrbanFest, a festival devoted to discussing contemporary topics of urban development. The event was developed in partnership with the European Commission and had two main components, a series of conferences and debates with public authorities and international speakers (London Legacy Development Corporation) and a public event, a marketplace for ideas promoting sustainability and urban ecological awareness, organised by our partner NGOs.
The success of the event and the interest manifested by participants led us to develop a proposal for a physical intervention on the river, which would showcase the potential of water in the city. The proposal, a floating bridge and promenade was partially funded through a crowdfunding campaign and demonstrated how the involvement of different stakeholders, from citizens to private entities could cooperatively contribute to a better urban environment which includes the water.
In 2016 we organised the exhibition Romania Powered by Nature which showcased different projects trying to use the natural environment as an economic, cultural and social asset and tool for regional redevelopment. The exhibition which lasted for 2 months was also the host of different round table debates and conferences which further enlarged our pool of stakeholders, now covering also national government organisations.
As a consequence of all our actions from the past two years, Dambovita Smart River was acknowledged as a strategic project for the local municipality and has been included as a in the 2021 Capital of Culture bid proposal forwarded by the city of Bucharest.