Image by ODRAZ
This summer, ODRAZ – the organisation that runs the Secretariat of the CIVINET Slovenia-Croatia-Southeast Europe (Slo-Cro-SEE) – convened a summer school programme in Šibenik (HR) from 17-21 July 2023. The school brought together 26 young professionals and students from various fields such as civil engineering, geography, architecture, sociology, landscape architecture, transportation, economics, and geodesy. Participants from all over Croatia convened to explore “Planning Cities of the Future”. This culminated in a public presentation of all the solutions developed with the support of mentors, which span five topics related to Šibenik's transportation and spatial challenges.
The aim of ODRAZ's summer school was to provide young individuals with the opportunity for extracurricular education and work in small interdisciplinary groups on proposed transport and/or spatial topics or challenges, which were defined in collaboration with the City of Šibenik. The emphasis was on transport-spatial planning and participatory processes in urban planning. According to participants' feedback, the interdisciplinary approach, which was the main aspect of the school, proved to be the most significant benefit of this highly successful programme.
The summer school began with introductory lectures by programme mentors, which covered methodological frameworks that would assist participants throughout the school, as well as examples of good practices in multimodal terminals, green bus stops, green buildings; the importance of participation in spatial planning; and an introduction to 'placemaking' and to the Place Game tool. Subsequently, participants were divided into interdisciplinary teams and selected their respective topics.
The topics participants worked on were :
- The Coast as a Space for Meetings and Living
- Ferry Port: the Green Heart of a Multimodal Terminal
- Spatial Interventions for Climate Sustainability in Mobility: Stjepan Radić Street
- Streets for People: Kamenarska Street
- Promoting Sustainable Mobility Among Students and Youth in Šibenik
On the second day, each group defined their methodology and work plan, which all included field visits and conducting questionnaires and semi-structured interviews with locals. The quality of the work plans was reflected in the high-quality solutions that were ultimately produced! The rest of the day was spent gathering necessary literature and data, and preparing for field visits, before students were guided in a professional tour of Šibenik.
On the third and fourth days, the participants refined their ideas and improved their solutions. They then presented their progress and proposed solutions, receiving feedback and advice from mentors. After reviewing the solutions and suggestions, the young participants prepared their presentations and conceptual ideas, which they presented on Friday, 21 July, in roundtable discussions.
Throughout the school, the importance of participatory processes in urban planning was emphasised as crucial to ensure that decisions and solutions align with citizens' needs, and are ultimately accepted. Additionally, there was a focus on developing solutions that contribute to the climate resilience of Mediterranean cities by reducing the impact of heatwaves and preventing heat islands, as well as achieving climate neutrality by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
One of the most important conclusions from the school is that planning public spaces is not about creating new spaces for people, but rather returning space to the people. This is achieved by considering the potential of a space, and emphasising the active involvement of the local community.
Some of the highlighted benefits of the solutions proposed throughout the summer school were:
- Improved quality of life for Šibenik residents
- Transformation of the city into a people-oriented place
- Encouragement of public transport use and active mobility
- Enhanced health and general well-being
- Revitalization of neighborhoods
- Reduction of the impact of heatwaves and heat islands
- Reduced impact of tourism seasonality
- Climate resilience and sustainability
- The importance of participatory and interdisciplinary approaches
- Promotion of Šibenik as a climate-neutral city
Not only did participants learn throughout the summer school, but their presentations and solutions can also themselves serve as learning material. They offer insights into the possibilities of replicating these solutions in other Mediterranean cities, as well as the specific advantages such solutions offer for Šibenik.
Author: the Network for Sustainable Urban Mobility CIVINET Slovenia-Croatia-SEE