Urboteca – Facilitating public participation in Bucharest

Urboteca is an Urban Living Lab focusing on public participation in the urban planning process. The Romanian spatial planning system is still a very rigid hierarchical model where the state is in charge of the production of various spatial plans which function as organizational devices to structure urban development on different spatial scales. As such, it does not provide the necessary framework for meaningful project based stakeholder negotiation required by contemporary urban development. We intend to change that!

In this framework Urboteca plays a double role. It creates a contextualized framework for cooperation and tries to go upstream, influencing the legal framework concerning public participation as a hole. In order to achieve this we use a mixture of research, mediation and design.
Research is used to understand the overall relationship between the state, the market and civil society in planning. Mediation plays the most important role and is a complex process split into four reiterating steps starting from education, information, consultation and ending in co-decision, each with its own set of tools developed in-house. Design has a special purpose acting as a tool to enhance project specific research but most importantly, to stimulate collaboration between the actors involved.


As an exemplification for the role played by design, the Urboteca Mobile Pavilion acts as an experimental physical interface for our services. Its design is inspired by modern food truck culture and acts as a temporary vibrant public space which stimulates interaction, creativity and curiosity for its participants. More importantly, it facilitates debates about projects exactly on the spot where they will be delivered.

Urboteca Neighborhood workshop methodology


Urboteca Workshops in Bucharest

Between 2014 and 2015, Urboteca has conducted participatory planning workshops in 8 neighborhoods in Bucharest


The Urboteca Mobile Pavilion – designing the physical interface of a new public service

Key design goals: Easy deployment / A public space in a box / Design to inspire and attract passers-by / An open planning office / Cater to any type of public event


Educational Toolkit

The mobile pavilion and the online platform provide a comprehensive set of tools designed to enhance knowledge transfer, communication on complex urban planning projects and collaboration between local authorities and citizens.

RazvanZamfira_UrbotecaInfoPannelsOpenData Platform

OpenData plays an important role in all areas of our project. We started compiling important data sets out of scanned PDF files about planning applications, green areas, parking and transportation. This data has been used by the team to craft new research but also as a form to communicate to different audiences about the present and the future of the city.


Visit the project website here