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Urban Lab Varna | Civic Europe
Community development, Youth participation and empowerment

Urban Lab Varna

Laboratory for urban renewal. Raising awareness about the positive impact of quality urban spaces on human life(style). Focus on children and young people.


Who is behind this?

Ventsislava Nedyalkova

Gradivno Association


Who is joining forces?

Detskata kashta - The Children's House, Varna


The National School of Arts “Dobri Hristov”, Varna


We plan to connect to the National Youth Forum in Bulgaria and to the Alternative Space Association, Varna.


Idea pitch

Project Urban Lab Varna aims to connect people of different ages, expertise, and abilities in an effort to improve the quality of urban spaces and overall life in the city. We plan to create a base for informed and productive dialogue between all stakeholders, and build bridges to the administration. The centuries old city of Varna is located on the Black Sea coast, has a rich cultural life and strong social communities with great potential for further development which we are hoping to unravel.

Where will your project idea take place?

Varna, Bulgaria

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

There are many urban spaces in Varna, once attractive, with great potential, which became neglected and unsafe over the last 30 years. The poor condition of these urban spaces and buildings is worsening over time and becoming dangerous. Unattractive and even dangerous, they are a typical platform for crime, drugs and other illicit activities. Young people (under 30) in Bulgaria have lived under those conditions all their lives and that has inevitably affected their psyche. Many may not even understand what quality urban spaces look like and how they could make a positive impact on the way people live and feel. These living conditions may lead to loss of motivation to undertake positive change and improve the urban environment. Instead, many young people just decide to move elsewhere.

Who are you doing it for?

They need a healthy, safe and attractive urban environment, fresh air in order to play and thrive. The city needs playgrounds with activities for children above 10 years and diverse play structures, play streets-carless streets.
The city as a playground- include children in public life, activate urban spaces together.
Varna features seven universities and is an attractive spot for young people. At least a third of the city is people aged under 30. The communication platform we plan to create will serve youth and institutions. The focus will be on young people, since they are the future of the city, will also use it the longest and eventually become decision makers. We believe that this will empower young people and citizens to participate in the urban renewal process.

How do you plan to get there?

- Rent a space to be used as a connecting point (physical platform) for all stakeholders;
- Create a transparent digital platform to connect and share ideas for all stakeholders (children friendly);
- Informational campaigns in kindergartens, schools and universities for rising civil awareness about the positive impact of urban renewal on human lives;
- Educational activities to improve the expertise and qualification of the local administration and professionals;
- Educational lectures and co-creation workshops for all stakeholders;
- Engage students and young people by organizing community events;
- Multistakeholder meetings (Round tables), discussions, searching for solutions together, think tanks, share ideas, connect;
- Co-creation of plans and projects for improving the quality of urban spaces and urban life;
- Outdoor urban renewal activities for all stakeholders;
- Activation of specific locations by showing public art, creating exhibitions and events;
- Stimulate non formal communication between stakeholders, approve relationships;
- Build bridges between communities, create a sustainable network of people who can help each other in the process of co-designing the urban environment;
- Establish a base for interregional, national and international networks for co-creating a quality urban environment and popularisation of its beneficial impact on our lives.

What are the expected results?

- Awakened sense in the citizens for the lack of quality and the existing potential of urban spaces;
- Informed and active community of people, willing to improve the quality of the urban environment in the city of Varna;
- Activated urban spaces by creating possibilities for children to stay and play. Attract children and young people of all ages;
- Improved cultural and social life, new audiences reached;
- Active network of involved citizens. Community feeling, identity, sense of belonging to place and groups of people. Shared ideas, shared goals, shared results, shared space, shared life, shared happiness, sharing economy and sustainability.

How does your idea strengthen active citizenship at a local and community level?

Active spaces - social spaces, happy children - happy parents, educated people - awakened people, constructive communication - community, collective intelligence - great solutions, quality urban environment - sustainability, positive examples and vibes --- political change.

Why is this idea important to you?

We believe in the pure and creative power of children and young people and hope to provide them a new perspective to the urban environment and its renewal processes in order to make our city more safe and attractive for everyone.
Through our former projects we have good connections and experience with some key educational institutions in the city as well as mutual trust with the administration, local businesses and communities.
We are Gradivno Association - Hristiyan Petrov, Maksim Nedkov and Ventsislava Nedyalkova, all working as architects. Together we have experience ranging from architecture, urban renewal and development, city administration, citizens’ participation and educating students. We are inspired by the idea of making urban spaces more active, social and walkable.

€ 35000,-

Total budget

€ 33000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

rent a space and maintenance (12 months) 6000 EUR
Web platform and maintenance (12 months) 5000 EUR
Personnel costs, incl. team and guest salaries 12000 EUR
Office expenses 1000 EUR
Workshop material costs 2000 EUR
Outdoor intervention costs 4000 EUR
Performance, art and exhibitions in public space 2000 EUR
Travel and accommodation costs 1000 EUR
Public relations and advertising 1000 EUR
Catering and merchandise 1000 EUR

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

We would like to know if there is a similar initiative like ours in your city/region.
Do you think you would like to participate in our project as a citizen, expert, artist or somebody else, if it happens in your city?
Do you have a special emotional connection to some urban spaces in your city?




Idea created on April 26, 2021
Last edit on April 26, 2021

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