Urban planning works with a perspective of 30 years ahead. Like no virus so far, however, COVID-19 has suddenly stopped the lives of cities and posed a big question to their planning — how to become more flexible to respond to the problems we are facing today?

Today, many people work and will continue to work from home. And the rhythm of a city depends on our movement to work and back. What does this mean for the new dynamics of the streets, the traffic and most of all — the residential complexes used until yesterday mainly for sleep. Is it time yet for cities with a center in each neighborhood?

The pandemic also affected another migration — of young people to big cities with universities. Distance learning interrupted this flow. Will such a trend change the biography of young people, and consequently — of the cities themselves?

The health crisis has shown how valuable green spaces are in the city, they were the safest for more people to visit. What is the lesson for urban planning at such times when we are in a hurry to build homes before we plant parks?

These topics bring together three urban planners in Sofia and Aachen to consider how to combine long-term goals with quick short-term action. And whether the solution will not come with the help of technology.


Zdravko Zdravkov

Chief architect of Sofia Municipality since 2016. He introduced a new type of management for urban planning and restructured the Architecture and Urban Spatial Development Service to improve its efficiency. His concern with public spaces is one reason to take on the project “Sofia — A City for People” in partnership with Danish architect Jan Gehl. Zdravkov also initiated the development of long-term city strategy Vision Sofia 2050, and the conduct of international competition for the renovation of St. Nedelya Square, won by the Studio Fuksas.


Ljubo Georgiev

Director of Sofiaplan and leader of the team that created the long-term strategy Vision Sofia 2050. He graduated in architecture in Venice, took a Master’s degree from TU Delft in the Netherlands and began his career at the Claus en Kaan Architecten in Amsterdam and MVRDV in Rotterdam. For two years he has been a leading architect at the Turenscape design Institute in Beijing, and after returning to Bulgaria, from 2014 to 2016 he was the director of One Architecture Week in Plovdiv. Ljubo has extensive experience working with multidisciplinary teams and is committed to community-oriented projects.


Frauke Burgdorff

She has been leading the planning, construction and mobility department of Aachen City Council since June 2019, a few months before the pandemic closed the city. Frauke holds a degree in spatial planning and has worked in various city units and organizations towards the development of Antwerp, Gelsenkirchen and Bonn, including as a futurist. In 2016, she founded Burgdorff Stadt, an agency for cooperative urban development, where she and her team worked for municipalities and housing companies throughout Germany.


Ina Valkanova

Architect and Urban Planning Consultant, Ina is a member of the GRADOSCOPE collective. She completed her architecture studies in RWTH Aachen and Berlin University of Arts, and is now taking her Doctor’s degree in ETH Zürich, researching Trakia Economic Zone in Plovdiv with the team of Newrope. Ina has worked with Alvaro Siza in Porto and Benthem Crouwel in Amsterdam, she was the investment and innovation coordinator of Vision Sofia 2050, and has also given lectures at the Architecture weeks in Copenhagen and Belgrade.