Cluj Metropolitan Area association operates around Romania’s second-largest city, Cluj-Napoca. This is the largest urban center of Transylvania, considered Romania’s most forward-looking region, and playing the role of its informal capital. The city and its peri-urban area are located northwest of Romania, not far from the border with Hungary. The population of the metro area is about 450.000 inhabitants.

Cluj-Napoca is connected to the European motorway network by a southern, bypassing route, while the shortest, western motorway is under construction. The railway linking the metropolitan area to the western border is also being modernized. Cluj Airport connects the area with most European states, being the second busiest in the country.

Regarding the social fabric, the metropolitan area is marked by the coexistence of the traditional way of life, in the rural area, predominantly agricultural, and the dynamics of a modern city, which is rapidly growing and in a full economic boom. Thus, Cluj-Napoca experienced 4.5-fold GDP growth in 20 years, it was the European Youth Capital in 2015 and was shortlisted for the European Capital of Innovation award in 2020. The economic momentum is mainly driven by the service area, especially the IT sector.

Cluj county and CMA, seen in the broader region

Thus, the city is in a rapid transition towards a knowledge-based economy, similar to the most advanced EU countries. However, the rural parts of the metropolitan area are lagging. Major investments in road and water-channel infrastructure have provided only the basis for decent living in areas where poverty persists. For example, there are localities 15 km from the city, where there is no school, dispensary, or economic operator.

In this context, the major challenges in the coming period are of two types, which we will identify by using expressions from IT:

Hardware:
The creation of a metropolitan mobility infrastructure that quickly connects the urban pole with the peri-urban area and at the same time relieves congestion in the city: metropolitan train, metropolitan highway, and subway.

Software:
Strengthening social cohesion between the relatively prosperous, well-educated, and forward-looking urban community and the more traditional and conservative rural population. Eliminate the risk of social exclusion for the latter and the less prosperous urban groups.

Cluj-Napoca and the 19 communes that make up the metropolitan area

CMA has been involved in several green infrastructure and concept projects funded by the EU.

  • In 2021 we set up a park forest – probably the first in Romania – in the Făget area, with cycling lanes and thematic tracks, and information panels on the fauna and flora of the area. The intervention was minimal, based on a scientific study, and greatly improved the user experience. The project, named Urb4Dan was funded through the Interreg, Danube Transnational Programme.
  • Through a Horizon 2020 project, called Stardust, we develop green urban technical solutions and innovative business models by integrating several areas such as buildings, mobility, and energy efficiency, to define a new urban concept. To this end, a consortium was formed with three lighthouse cities, Pamplona (Spain), Tampere (Finland), and Trento (Italy), which share their best practices with four other cities: Derry (U.K.), Kozani (Greece), Litoměřice (Czechia) and Cluj-Napoca. The project runs between 2017 and 2022.
  • Under the proGIreg project, also funded through Horizon 2020, we replicate and adapt nature-based urban regeneration solutions for post-industrial areas, already tested by four front-runner cities. These cities are Dortmund (Germany), Turin (Italy), Zagreb (Croatia), and Ningbo (China) while the four cooperating cities are Cascais (Portugal), Piraeus (Greece), Zenica (Bosnia and Herzegovina), and Cluj-Napoca. It runs between 2018 and 2023.

We also have broad expertise in social projects, as we have been running projects of social inclusion and affordable housing in the city’s most deprived area since 2014. More on these you can find here: www.desegregare.ro/en