"BRAILA LABORATORY - alternative approaches to peripheries within a shrinking city (B-LAB)" is an interdisciplinary exploration of the conditions of shrinkage and scarcity faced by many of today’s European cities, and particularly exemplified within the port city of Braila, Romania.

The project focuses on Braila (a post-industrial, post-communist city with economic and population decline) as a primary case study and urban laboratory. It seeks to identify and develop various forms  of latent urban capital which go beyond economic and demographic growth, are not subject to centralized planning mechanisms, and are often cloaked within the banality of everyday life.

Emphasis is placed on direct engagement within the field of operation (Braila) and the involvement of local communities, institutions and individuals to construct new perspectives and architectural approaches which could define the future evolution of the city. 

The project is carried out by the Bergen School of Architecture (BAS) in partnership with “Ion Mincu” University of Architecture and Urbanism – Faculty of Urban Planning (UAUIM-FUP) and with support from the Municipality of Braila.

It consists of the following main activities, all of which in large part plug-in to planned educational courses at both institutions and address shared themes derived from the project context:

1. preparatory research /
   (plug-in to master course held at BAS) /
   Spring 2015

2. summer workshop /
   (exhibition and urban construction led by BAS) /
   Summer 2015

3. spring workshops /
   (plug-in to master course held at UAUIM) /
   Spring 2016

4. international round table seminar /
   Summer 2016

5. publication (book + website) /  
   Summer 2016

More information will be made available shortly on the project’s website:

Bergen Arkitekthøgskole (BAS) was established as an educational alternative to the public architecture schools of Norway in 1986. Since then, the program has developed a tradition of social oriented architecture that engages with reality through an experimental, hands-on and collaborative approach to spatial production. This approach is often influenced by complimentary areas of study such as art, anthropology and ecology. Multiple courses, workshops and events held over the years in Norway and countries across the globe have served to ground an open and active relationship between the education and practice of architecture as they relate to a contemporary local and simultaneously global society.

Universitatea de Arhitectura Urbanism "Ion Mincu” (UAUIM) is the oldest and most important academic institution within the architectural discipline in Romania. It continues a long tradition in architectural higher education, with its inception, in the second half of the twentieth century, strongly linked to the modern development of Romania and its new cultural structures. For 16 years the Department of Urban Planning UAUIM undertakes a permanent contact with Romanian urban reality through direct involvement in both urban life and in international academic cooperation.

The project is financed through the EEA grant program PA17/RO13 Promotion of diversity in culture and arts within European cultural heritage. The program is a collaboration between the Arts Council of Norway and the Ministry of Culture in Romania.