Case Study: THE CIVIC Centre - Brasov

Attention and care in the city

The city which we are continually negotiating commands our attention: when we avoid an obstacle in our path, see someone we recognise in the street, or when a place reminds us of something. There are times when our daily routines and oft-repeated routes make the city seem so familiar to us that we no longer notice what might initially have bothered us or caught our eye. We no longer react, we just walk past – “It’s not our problem!” –, we try to get around it, each in our own way. In a word, the problem is still there, but we notice it less and less, even though it may be affecting us more and more.

The things that bother us in urban spaces can give rise to individual or collective responses. From individual action to collective action is only a small step. But it requires us to open our eyes, to move from inattention to attention, to switch from being attentive to being considerate, towards others and towards our surroundings.

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Pedestrians, cars, and bikes

Living in a house, neighbourhood or city implies first and foremost moving from one place to another (physically and/or mentally). From the earliest times, mobility has been a fundamental condition of human existence, evolution and living together.

In this section, we invite you to look at our daily movements – on foot, by car, by bike –, at the conditions in which they take place each day, and at the joint presences, conflicts and frictions they produce. Clearly, the question is: how can we live together in harmony? How can we not forget that there are others just like us, with their own desires and needs? How can we not forget that the streets are common property, and therefore public goods?

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Familiarity and intimacy with the city

We live in the city and make it feel familiar, even when it seems unknown, unfamiliar or contrary to our expectations. Through a sense of attachment and familiarity, individuals inhabit and continually transform their living environment.

In the Civic Centre, an urban area regarded by the majority of our interviewees as having “no identity” and being “totally fragmented”, we looked at the sites and at the practices used by individuals to come to terms with the unfamiliar, user-unfriendly nature of the area. In this place of intense road traffic, how do residents and passers-by find a breathing space, a place to sit down, somewhere they can once again feel safe?

From familiar spots in the neighbourhood where you grew up, cherished memories of how a place used to be, trees that are the only traces of an old neighbourhood now lost, to more unusual, unexpected aspects, we will focus on the familiarities and intimacies forged by individuals with the city.

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Hybrid spaces and frontiers in the city

One of the most prominent characteristics of post-communist urban spaces is their composite, seemingly incoherent nature. Churches, banks, car parks, apartment blocks, small houses alongside skyscrapers and shopping centres: everything is grouped together in one place, raising the question of what effects this strange joint presence has on our day-to-day practices.

How does the redevelopment of urban areas, the privatisation of public places and the presence of numerous urban obstacles and visual stimuli in our path (bollards, cars parked on the pavement, advertising billboards, etc.) affect our daily journeys across the city and our sense of familiarity with the urban space?

What new urban frontiers emerge as a result of these changes?

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