A focus on cultural tourism along the Danube Valley.

client: Mehedinți County Administration

date: June 2014
program: masterplan, territorial branding

type: comission
outcome: planning phase
size: XL / 50 ha
location: Șimian Island, Romania
team: Wolfhouse Productions + General Project SRL


Since the grandiose building projects of the ‘70s, with their main result: Porțile de Fier I – Hydroelectric Powerplant, the Danube Valley has undergone profound transformations. Aside from major economic and social advantages, the territory also had to deal with the loss of valuable built heritage and major environmental transformations along the most spectacular landscape of the Danube route. These issues still continue to affect the area, causing it to lag in developing a strong touristic sector and a competitive local identity on a European scale.

At the same time, the county is struggling with the effects of depopulation and a rapidly deindustrializing economy.

The local authorities are determined to change the current status quo and are working on a new strategy aimed at rebranding the Danube Valley as an important European touristic destination. This strategy is meant to kick-start a major economic shift for the territory, towards a tourism and service oriented economy. 

A sustainable development for the Șimian Island can be done only by integrating it into a a coherent touristic circuit on both banks of the Danube.

In this larger context, we believe that Simian Island has a strong potential to become an international touristic hub on the Danube Valley. Its assets revolve around a favorable geographic position (neighboring the region’s largest city), attractive natural landscape and the relocated historical and cultural artifacts from the fabled Ada Kaleh – the sunken island.

Building on these advantages, the island could morph into a catalyzing centre for the transformation of this territory into a major touristic destination for Europe. 

Șimian Island, current situation

We propose an action plan based on a set of precise and quantifiable goals that fit a sustainable development mind frame. All future development should be done unobtrusively, taking into account the fragility of the local habitat, and patiently spread over several development phases. Building on the Ada Kaleh identity, its remaining historical artifacts – partially relocated Defensive Fort, the Turkish cemetery – and its sub-tropical climate, we expect that the island becomes a powerful touristic attraction destined for the international cruise ships on the Danube, but also for locals.

The masterplan concept is based on the Island's two main assets: Ada Kaleh defensive fort & valuable wild habitat

Masterplan layout

We propose a financial plan that discourages massive influx of public capital that could bring rapid growth, but limited to a local scale and a short timeframe. Our analysis reveals that a rational distribution of development stages, based on small and medium public investment, over several years and according to specific needs, is the best suited for the possibilities of a fragile local economy. In later phases, private capital is expected to become the main source of investment on the island. Moreover, this type of financial strategy has the potential of bringing growth to a wider area, that could also include the city of Drobeta Turnu Severin.

A sustainable development scheme: integrated economy on the island

Ada Kaleh Defensive Fort. From a derelict ruin to a major touristic attraction.

Ada Kaleh International Music Festival

Microfarming and ecological agrotourism

Simian Island, an aerial view

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