Engaging citizen to the general planning of the city centre

The City of Tartu is working on the general planning of the city centre, with the aim to devise the principles for the spatial development of the city centre- where to build and where not to build. The first stage of general planning is the drafting of city centre development strategy, including the assessment of the previous developments and offering possible solutions for improving the city centre. The case explores the public discussion about this process in the media.

Main goal

The discussion was initiated by the local daily newspaper Tartu Postimees. At first, the city architect published his vision of how the river banks could be developed in the city centre in the future. There were drawings and videos attached. This started a major discussion in the media. Most of the articles published in the media were ordered by the Tartu Postimees (according to them). Although there had been articles about the general planning of the city centre before, a real discussion began in April 2011 and is still going on. Dozens of articles were published in different media, most of them in Tartu Postimees. The topic was also covered on TV and on the radio.

Te main goal is to make the citizens think about the city development matters. The discussion is mainly aimed at the citizens, architects, city planners, city officials etc. The discussion affects all the above mentioned groups- it makes them think along, feel being engaged in the process etc.

Lessons learned

Media plays a very important role in this discussion. They claim that the discussion is not possible without them. So, discussion is very important in such a big issue.
Visual materials are essential for this topic. It was the visuals that actually triggered this discussion.


  • Co-operate with the media!
  • Visualise and explain!
  • Get involved in the discussion!


Tartu, Estonia


Department of Communication in Tartu City Government