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Picnic at the construction site

Teren uses a temporarily empty area as a social experimental space. (c) Jana Jocif

How a disused construction site in the middle of the Slovenian capital is becoming a popular meeting place.

If you walk over from the train station in Ljubljana, Slovenia, to the other side of the road, you will stumble across “Teren”. Young people are practising gymnastics on horizontal bars, children are playing hide and seek, a gumbo stew steams on the home-made clay cooker, some people scamper over pallet furniture, others are making briquettes out of sawdust at a workshop. “Teren is a place of experimentation that is open to everyone,” explains architect Nina Savič. She is a member of the prostoRož cultural association that has turned this disused construction site into a meeting place.

The Municipality of Ljubljana contacted the association in 2017. “They said that they had a piece of land they wanted to sell in the future but, if we were interested, we could use it until then”. The initial idea of a community garden did not come to fruition because there was already one nearby. So Nina and her colleagues suggested that they leave the type of use open. “Since then, we've been experimenting with what it could be.”

Anyone can use the space free of charge, for anything from workshops to ordinary picnics. In the beginning it was very difficult to get people to notice, in part because there was no predefined programme. The word about Teren (terrain) nevertheless quickly spread. The city authorities only provided financial support at the beginning, e.g. for cleaning and fencing off the site, for a platform and roof construction, as well as an old kiosk for use as a warehouse. Teren also developed other project ideas. For example, the team built a mobile kitchen for preparing Indian chapati bread: to build it they employed refuse bins, bicycle parts, wooden pallets and a used grill. Although Teren no longer receives any support from the city – there are no electricity or water connections, for example – there is even a self-built toilet on the premises. “We try to keep Teren running. It would be a shame to lose this place again,” Nina emphasises, adding that projects like this give a lot back to the community. “When I see people coming and feeling at home or even wanting to contribute something, that gives me a really rewarding feeling.”

 

More information:

http://prostoroz.org/en/portfolio/items/teren/, www.facebook.com/pg/terenljubljana (sl), www.spottedbylocals.com/ljubljana/teren

Fact sheet

What: “Teren” experimental space

Who: Municipality of Ljubljana, coordination: Cultural Association prostoRož

Where: Ljubljana, Slovenia

When: Since 2017

How: The prostoRož association developed a concept on behalf of the city authorities for the interim use of a disused construction site near the railway station. The result is “Teren” (Slovenian for terrain), an experimental space without a predefined purpose. From a hip-hop group to the Waldorf School, in 2018 alone there were around 20 different organisations and individuals using Teren. In addition to urban gardening, design and art projects or cookery workshops for regional food, Teren has also become a popular meeting place for enjoying picnics and sports. prostoRož will continue to look after the area until the end of 2019. How matters will continue with Teren thereafter is uncertain.

Transferability: High – unused, temporarily available areas and buildings exist in many communities and cities in the Alpine region. The prostoRož cultural association develops concepts and projects for the use of public spaces and will be happy to share its experience from the Teren project on request.