SOFIA DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION was founded as non-profit organization with the decision 348
of the Sofia Municipal Council to work for the sustainable development of the capital.


Sofia Development Association took part in a peer to peer learning session and expert mission of AGORA project

On October 12th, 2021 SDA and Sofia Municipality exchanged experience with partners from Neckar-Alb Region, Prague and Slavonski Brod from their common cluster Unused/ underused areas as public spaces’ potential.

Sofia shared its experience from the Idiation design seminar about open air stages, held on 28th of September. SDA’s team shared the interactive methods used to keep the audience and the stakeholders engaged. Furthermore, the team updated the partners about the progress of the pilot project Toplocentralata and mentioned the main points on which the Urban Regeneration Agenda of Sofia will focus.
The following discussion focused on ways to turn underused public spaces, open and built, into places offering social, educational and / or cultural services spaces. The social dimension of this process was also taken into consideration. The partners suggested that this scope could be achieved through improving the relationship with the existing communities. The cities agreed that the identity of a space could emerge by implementing a participatory management model and enhancing cultural activities.

On October 18th Sofia Development Association took advantage of the possibility to hear the experience of the partners from thematic cluster Recovery and economic valorisation of large-scale post-industrial heritage in private or public property. On November 2nd it will be held another peer to peer learning session of the thematic cluster Matchmaking between vacant commercial / business spaces in the city and potential users.

The AGORA project is implemented under the INTERREG Danube program and is co-financed by the European Union funds (ERDF, IPA II).



“DIY – vertical garden set” – vertical gardens as part of urban farming

What are vertical gardens? Vertical gardens are preferred by amateur gardeners and are suitable for both indoor and outdoor gardens. In addition, they are great for urban farming because they are practical and diverse. They bring life to spaces, create community and help the busy city person to connect with nature and relax.

To promote urban farming, Sofia Development Association, Sofia Green and Applied Research and Communications Fund are organizing design seminars “DIY - vertical garden set”. The seminars are part of the pilot activities of the CityZen project, which promotes urban farming as a successful driving force for economic and social transformation by introducing the concept to policy makers.

The design seminars are held in two stages - on October 11, 30 participants learned the basics of design thinking, shared their experience with gardening and outlined the framework of necessary actions that would help promote urban farming in Sofia. The teams consist of students, entrepreneurs, vertical gardening experts, designers, agri-environmentalists, and marketing specialists. After exchanging ideas and experiences, the participants were divided into 4 groups and embarked on a creative process of making small models of vertical gardens, which later turned into prototypes. Creating the models was very colorful and fun, but also useful for the next stage.

The teams have one week to develop the four models into real products - vertical gardens, to be presented during the second stage of the seminars, which will be held on Monday, September 18. Students from the University of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy took a leading role in this process.

After the presentation of the prototypes by the students on Monday, the participants will choose the most suitable among them for multiplication. The prototypes will be piloted in four specially selected places in the city - Sofia Tech Park AD, a Sofia Municipality building, an office building, as well as in a residential building.

After testing the developed prototypes from the point of view of sustainability and continuity, it is planned as part of the project to develop an instruction that will allow anyone to make their own vertical garden effortlessly and quickly from easily available materials on the market.

CityZen project is funded by the INTERREG EUROPE programme, cofunded by EU’s ERDF.



SDA Joins EIT Urban Mobility – IH East


In the beginning of October, SDA became a member of the Innovation Hub East, an initiative of EIT Urban Mobility. With this membership Sofia has an opportunity to continue working on innovative actions, research and technological solutions for urban mobility and to engage in strategic projects, part of the EITUM portfolio. Following the successful implementation of the CO-APS project in 2020, we look forward to new meaningful collaborations with leading organizations and experts from the IH East and the EIT Urban Mobility community.




Located at 111 Hristo Botev blvd., the first in Bulgaria joint Bureau for Information and Services for third country nationals opened its doors for clients and friends. The bureau is designed to be a vital entry point for foreigners and migrants looking to access accurate information on specialized services and referrals to service providers in heath, legal and protection matters. It offers services in several languages.

Sofia Municipality, Sofia Development Association, the Bulgarian Red Cross, Vazrazhdane Markets, with the support of UNHCR and over 13 NGOs have joined efforts, resources and expertise to provide better integrated services for foreigners.

The calendar with future activities for October might be seen HERE.

The Bureau is established in the framework of #CONNECTION project and funded by a European grant.

CONNECTION project: CONNEcting Cities Towards Integration action, is co-funded by the European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.


Putting the strategy into action – transnational synergies

“Synergies don’t happen on their own, they need preparation and efforts” was the one of the main messages during the interactive workshop led by Sevdalina Voynova, Sofia Development Association project team, during the Finance4Social Change project Transnational Policy Learning Seminar on 29 September 2021.

Policy makers, impact investors, social entrepreneurs and project partners discussed the dimensions of the transnational synergies , obstacles, recommendations how to proceed further to project level, Programme level and Danube level.

The findings from the discussion will be incorporated in the Report on the Transnational synergies in the area of social investment in the Danube region.







Agora idiation design seminar – open-air stages for culture

"Most of the open-air stages in Sofia were made in the 50's and 60's and constitute a platform from which to speak to the masses. They do not allow for other ways of communication between audiences and artists, and the art forms have changed a lot since then.”

"It's not enough to make a good-looking stage if you leave it to itself. Without governance and a meaningful program, it is doomed to ruin. "

These are some of the opinions of the participants who took part in the interactive seminar of AGORA project with a focus on open-air stages for culture. It took place in two parts on September 28. The event brought together over 30 participants from local government, the independent cultural sector, academia and business.

The first part of the seminar was dedicated to conducting a PHOTOVOICE in the form of organized walks in predetermined open-air stages for culture in the capital. Participants visited the sites and documented their current condition through digital photos. The purpose of PHOTOVOICE was to identify the places that are in urgent need of improvement and those that can be used as a good example.

During the main part of the seminar, good examples of open-air stages from other parts of Europe and the world were presented. All participants shared their impressions of the previously visited sites by completing an interactive online survey in real time and suggested various measures to improve them during a lively discussion.

According to the participants, among the most important factors for improving the functionality of the stages are the anticipation of the ways of their use in the near future, their good integration into the local setting and the easy and clear conditions for their usage. An interesting proposal for a balance between a quality art program and the involvement of the local community was the holding of artist residences in the respective neighborhood. In addition, participants identified temporary and movable stages as a good alternative to additional construction and reached a consensus that involving student communities in various internships and creative developments would be among the effective approaches to the improvement of spaces.

This seminar is the first of three seminars, the results of which will lead to the development of an action plan for the renovation of cultural spaces.

The AGORA project is implemented under the INTERREG Danube program and is co-financed by the European Union funds (ERDF, IPA II).

You can learn more about the project and the upcoming activities at and




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