One of CINEMA’s pilot locations – District 6 in Gabrovo, Bulgaria – was put on the spotlight as part of the seventh edition of Gabrovo Innovation Camp 22 (19 to 21 October 2022). Organised by Gabrovo Municipality in partnership with the JRC and European Committee of the Regions, the initiative, titled Resilient Cities, gathered in person at the Humour House Museum 60 participants from Gabrovo, Bulgaria and Europe. Thanks to the support and with the participation of representatives of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) and the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission, the Camp combined a conference with several lecture and discussion panels followed by 2 days of intensive work. The ethos of knowledge exchange and cooperation served as a capacity building element for the participants. The ideas marathon was structured in 4 thematic challenges: Bauhaus in re-/co-designing the cities, Mission-based climate neutral transition, Youth Entrepreneurship for digital future and Innovation and inclusivity for Gabrovo S3 implementation.

The legacy of CINEMA found a worthy continuation in the first challenge of the camp –  Bauhaus in re-/co-designing the cities. Different stakeholders and specialists were provoked to think about District 6 in terms of its future development and how the efforts for its transformation could be continued in a persistent and successful way.

The working group comprised of about 15 people with different professional backgrounds from Gabrovo, Sofia, The Netherlands and Italy. Two of the active leaders in the group were CINEMA’s partners Milka Kehayova of Gabrovo Municipality and Adriana Andreeva of Studio Komplekt. As insiders for the challenge they were steering the group to think in terms of community, entrepreneurship and collaborations. The result was a most detailed and plausible concept for the restoration of District 6 and turning it into a vibrant urban spot for new businesses and creative interventions.

It has been agreed that in order to continue what has been started as a process during the CINEMA project, the following 6 step project has to be adopted:

  • a long-term commitment by the local government to further support the already inaugurated urban revitalisation of District 6;
  • the nurturing of private-public collaboration through existing or new incentives (EU programs, Municipal programs, International open calls, etc.);
  • establishing a hub in District 6, run by a specially appointed community manager and supported by a designated team of specialists comprising of municipal staff (legal advisor, accountant, architect, etc.), independent experts (communication, visual identity, content creation) and an advisor board;
  • securing a convenient location for the hub in District 6 as a source of information and first-hand communication with locals, interested parties and visitors; 
  • building a strong and sustainable year-long program (pop-up events, workshops, markets, festivals, community dinners, etc) involving various stakeholders, inside and outside of Gabrovo collaborators, regulated by the opinion of the people living and working in District 6;
  • securing a communication campaign dedicated to District 6, advertising its opportunities and events; visual identity – easily recognisable and adaptable to different content, message carrier and situation; 
  • ameliorating the urban environment (street furniture, well thought artistic interventions, etc.) and the walkability within the neighbourhood without hampering the services of the existing businesses and taking into consideration their and the citizens’ needs; 
  • specific agreement between Ministry of Culture, National Institute of Cultural Heritage and Gabrovo Municipality in order to restore the dilapidated and in ruins privately owned houses in District 6; subsequently offering these to new tenants (SMEs);
  • cross-sectorial, transnational and international collaboration on a larger scale in order to inspire and trigger reciprocal activities in other neighbourhoods and to further strengthen the position of District 6 as a most potent ground for innovative experiments.

Following the presentation, the Mayor of Gabrovo Tanya Hristova pledged to adopt the idea and implement it in the Municipality’s next year budget and plans. We will follow eagerly this promised development.