Introducing the Association for Urban Transition

A 16-year journey of researching all things urban.

The Association for Urban Transition (ATU) is a Romanian non-governmental organisation with 16 years of experience in projects involving diverse spatial settings: historical centers, collective housing estates, slums, green infrastructure, rural microregions, brownfields. We function as a think-tank and work on defining methods, encouraging encounters and exploring alternative means of disseminating knowledge through art, public engagement and academia.

Our goal is to facilitate the sustainable transformation of space by acting as a feedback mechanism between university, public authorities and civil society. We believe that the process of transformation should be negotiated among all stakeholders and analysed from an interdisciplinary perspective.

We have always maintained strong links with academia. Many ATU members teach in various faculties, inspiring their students to use our organisation as a platform for conducting their own research by accessing our know-how and professional network, applying for project funding or organising exhibitions and conferences. The association benefits a great deal from the work of students as well. The theory and method fundamentals of their Masters or PhD degrees provide ATU with an up-to-date knowledge pool of contemporary research topics providing a high quality basis for our applied research projects. Bachelor students are invested volunteers who experience live learning through on-site participatory projects or during our summer schools.

ATU is not focused on a single topic. Our portfolio gets richer with every new member who is willing to coordinate a project — be it about sustainable mobility, transparency for good governance, urban pedagogy, housing and heritage policies, history of architecture or contemporary urban dynamics.

Out of our more than 70 members, Urban Education Live's (UEL) Bucharest team is made up of Vera Marin, architect and urban planner, Daniela Calciu, architect, Răzvan Zamfira, urban studies researcher, Alexandra Ștef, community outreach practitioner, Gruia Bădescu, researcher in geography and urbanism and Andra Dumitru, sociologist and social anthropologist. More about our team here.

Our role in UEL is to develop social mapping methods to document local patterns of urban change. Drawing from our experience with Urboteca, a mobile lab for public engagement with urban developement travelling around Bucharest's neighbourhoods, our fieldwork establishes a baseline of indicators tracking change, while also building up an urban agenda for the neighbourhood. The resulting social mapping tool will help on-site interventions such as establishing local hubs (arrival strategy), as well as evaluating progress thoughout the project and across UEL partners.