2016 / Strategic rejuvenation of Klobučarić square, Rijeka / Category A
Nowadays, the intensive urban sprawl of modern cities generates not only higher buildings and bigger infrastructures, but also leaves areas behind the development of the city itself. There is a phenomenon of an amazing amount of spaces that became leftovers within the rapid development of the urban fabric. These leftover spaces come as an outcome of one way economic demand, urban planning failure or social neglection and usually lack financial support and structure sustainability. As a result, they are invaded, abandoned or ignored and although have been generated from different reasons, they all appear as impossible sites to build public spaces in urban fabrics. Most importantly, these spaces are excluded from public life.
In Rijeka (Croatia), such a “leftover space“ is located in the city center and is a result of economic failure without a proper planning schedule.
A former park in the center of Rijeka was demolished in the mid 90s as a result of a planning decision that was supposed to give the citizens a new City library with an underground garage. Because of the economic crisis that occurred later and the lack of finances that came with it, as a result, only the garage was built. Due to the lack of construction quality, over the years the garage cover became unstable and therefore unsafe to bare any additional weight, which is shocking due to the position of the square itself (in front of the Elementary school of Nikola Tesla). In the end, although the cover was rehabilitated and stabilized, the location for the new City library changed and Klobučarić square remained as a constant reminder of a bad plan¬ning strategy and an even worse project implementation.
Although it has been a vacant concrete surface for more than a decade now, it is interesting to see that the society hadn´t given up on it and even though it´s more because of the sentimental value it has to the citizens than the opportunities it nowadays provides, they still consider Klobučarić square to be “their place”, which only shows that the social demand for it is still present and is growing stronger by the minute. A site that is valuable on so many levels should have never been treated the way it was because the importance it has exceeds its inevitable historical and spatial uniqueness. It is consisted within the spirit of the place it owns and which is so greatly shown by the resistance of the society towards its forgetfulness.
In order to showcase the true potential this “impossible” site has, all layers crucial for its rejuvenation needed to be revealed and thoroughly examined. Diving deep into the site´s past and analyzing the square with regards to both its history and current state was the main point of gaining the knowledge that was needed in order to build a strategic plan upon the made research. In the end, a site specific “step-by-step” design proposal for the selected trial area was made and assessed in order to give an example of a leftover space healing procedure that resulted in giving a sustainable, authentic and inclusive urban landscape of Rijeka.