Location: Velenje, Slovenia
Competition: Open Competition, First Prize
Project Description: The Velenje “Promenada” is an important city space and a vital city thoroughfare. It is one of the central axes of the centre of Velenje, a young town designed in the 1950s, based on the Modernist ideal of the garden city; as such, it is unique in the Slovene landscape. The renovation of the Promenada represents the first step towards the gradual revitalisation of the city centre. Its tasks are to supply the city with the missing programmes and to help it reclaim its original character of a town-in-a-park. A successful renovation, informed by the awareness of the excessive surfaces designated for traffic, must bring together two requirements seemingly at odds with each other: “More greenery and more programme.”
The existing promenade was created by closing the former traffic road almost thirty years ago. Even though it was re-paved, a sufficiently thorough transformation never took place and the promenade retained the character of a road, remaining too wide and rather dull due to the lack of content. It has been a hybrid space between the road and the surface intended for pedestrians – chiefly a straight path quickly leading the users of the secondary-school complex and the community health center to the inner center without providing any animation for those out for a walk.
Through renovation, the wide straight connection underwent a transformation into a sequence of micro-ambients, of locally widened surfaces connected by a slightly twisting narrower path. The manipulation of layered surfaces slow the flow of pedestrians, allowing spaces for pause, contemplation, and gathering. As the path twists along the surrounding building edges, it provides outdoor spaces that act as extensions of interior programming and which are adaptable over time. In the initial phase, these newly formed public spaces are simply and cost-effectively laid out as sand or grass surfaces, allowing a wide range of use with modest investment.
At the center of the Promenada, a new amphitheater has been created along the river. The Paka River is a torrential and unpredictable body of water, swelling significantly several times a year, but remaining relatively shallow at all other times. In past decades, to protect development from flooding, the riverbed was deepened and the river which was once an attractive element of any city, flowed out of sight. Past widening of the bridge also meant that anyone walking across the structure had a hard time seeing the river at all.
By narrowing the bridge and moving it off the former axis, the design creates space for a new amphitheater, which slowly slopes down towards the river surface. This new public performance space has become the center of urban life allowing the river to once again claim its importance in the city’s consciousness.
ENOTA Team: Dean Lah, Milan Tomac, Tjaž Bauer, Andrej Oblak, Polona Ruparčič, Nuša Završnik Šilec, Alja Černe, Nebojša Vertovšek
Elea iC (Structural Engineering)
Nom Biro (Mechanical)
Photography: Miran Kambič