Background and the project idea

The project topic is about the legacies (physical, institutional, academic) of the communist time city design concepts and practical approaches, where it was related to green & blue infrastructure. Green & blue was a big topic back in the USSR, and many ideas and designs even from the 1970s still appear very fresh. For instance, the “green and water diameter” of Minsk (arguably the best implemented and preserved) was an amazing project demonstrating a lot of strategic foresight. Many more interesting designs can be found across the former USSR (although not properly implemented and/or not maintained in most cases) while concepts, approaches and methods for the development of Green & Blue were extensively discussed in university textbooks. It can be however noticed that, although cities in formerly USSR countries, such as Belarus or Ukraine, are planned by people from the same school (or even the same people who participated in the development of the “green and water diameters”), one cannot see there anything as innovative and progressive even in proposals for master plans of cities. At the same time, new concepts, such as NBS emerged over time, and one could expect them to evolve with the old school and produce some interesting outcomes (and this does not really happen, except a couple of EU&UNDP funded pilots).

V4 countries, having after the collapse of the Soviet bloc very similar starting conditions in terms of urban planning policies and implementation strategies as Belarus and Ukraine did at the collapse of the USSR, nevertheless made a long way reflecting on their planning legacies and choosing developments paths. When it came to the development and management of Green and Blue infrastructure, there were both vivid success and failures; recent developments have focus on nature-based solutions, smart green and blue, use of participatory approaches and crowdsourcing techniques. V4 experience is extremely useful to learn from for urban planning communities in Belarus and Ukraine, as contexts (both historical and current) of successful examples and lessons are very relevant to political and socio-economic transition that is still underway in EaP countries. This is the praxis and academic context GAP partners would explore and reflect upon.