The city belongs to its citizens, and they must feel part of and identified by it. By its configuration and characteristics public space is the place where social relationships develop, the collective life. In other words, public space is where we can gather, get to know each other, communicate, manifest, converse, learn, stroll, interact; that’s why squares, parks, plazas and streets are spaces that give character and identity and unity to a city. This relationship between this elements and between the notions of identity and belonging must be understood as the first step to improve our urban quality of life.
As mentioned in their book “Local and Global: managing cities in the Information Era” the notable spanish urbanists Jordi Borja and Manuel Castells say: “…The progress of a city its measured by the progress in quantity and quality of its public space…”
Man has colonized the territory for centuries, creating irrigation systems and by planting with geometric laws. He has de-naturalized the natural areas through the planting of natural elements; the distance that are planted trees or plants depends on both the size of the crop itself as the collection systems used. Each plantation produces a texture and color over the territory: the landscape urbanizes.
Landscape, as some theorists now mention, is not anymore something pristine and untouched, the landscape is now a construction, a manipulation of what was once natural into an “artificial nature“, a man manipulated setting which tries to blend natural with artificial, re informing our built environment in our cities trying to reach a point of “rurbanity” (rural + urban). The landscape and the “public space” are once more than ever intertwined in our cities, and public space tries to replicate the comfort that produces the experience of the natural space into the new public space.
In Europe there was an impressive scale of movement to recover public spaces specially between the 1980s and 1990s, this showcases the evolution of European cities highlighting the collective nature and political potential of public space. After this era the European Public Space has been blooming with beautiful and high quality public space all along its territory, and Slovenia is not the exception.
Although Spain is maybe the most prolific country in terms of (mature) public space, in which, its mild climate has a lot to do with an outdoor culture, Slovenija has been producing a high quality of public spaces both urban and rural that has impact directly the quality of life of their inhabitants as also the Urban Landscape of its cities.
There’s some examples that we most mention here, like the Dvorni trg (2000) by Vesna and Matej Vozlič, the landscape architecture of the Srebrniče Cemetery (2001) by Dušan Ogrin & Davorin Gazvoda, the Square and open air altar in Brezje (2005- 2008) by Maruša Zorec and Martina Tepina, the General Maister Memorial Park (2005) by Bruto (Matej Kučina, Tanja Maljevac), and the recently opened and polemic Butcher’s Bridge by ATELIER arhitekti. These examples are just a small sample of the good management of the public space that Slovenian architects have done in recent years, and good foundations to develop a wider and stronger culture of the “open and public” space.
Hoping that this spaces activate and improve the quality of life in cities all across Slovenija and the EU, places more than just pass ways or paths, this spaces, this places will become active elements of the re-generation of the urban life, a set of activators which will become part of a larger network of activity through the cities creating active spaces, generators, rather than simple voids in the city.
by Mariano Arias Diez, a10 studio architecture
The article was first published in Slovenian language, on a Slovene lifestyle on-line magazine SOPHie.
See more representative images from all the mentioned projects in the gallery: