Designed by ENOTA the new Koper Urban Park is set between Piranska Road and the Semedela promenade, and between the Grande canal and the area just beyond the city market.
The project was recently awarded with a 2020 International Architecture Award from The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies and The Chicago Athenaeum.
Piranska Road represents a new stage in the development of the town’s infrastructure while the promenade is one of the more important features of the town having once acted as the link between the city on the then-island and the mainland.
As such, it counts among the characteristic elements in the panorama of Koper. The connection ran between the sea and the salt ponds.
As the city developed during the past decades, the former salt-pond area was gradually filled in.
The land thus recovered represented a major development potential for the town. Nowadays, these surfaces are partially built, but there are still extensive unoccupied surfaces, including the area under consideration.
The key characteristic of the area is the immediate connection with the promenade and the sea, which is to be recognized as a significant spatial quality.
The area is partially occupied by a large car park behind the city market.
In the broader context, the area represents the first contact with the sea for the visitors to the Slovene coast, and it represents the starting point of the Riviera between the towns of Koper and Izola.
Only a comprehensive and coordinated treatment of the entire belt along the promenade will be able to visually and functionally connect the two currently separate parts of the town into a logical whole.
The area of the new city park covers a sizeable portion of the wider site, and its design can thus serve as a prototype for further interventions.
The new intervention offers a uniform and attractive appearance, and with its intensive hinterland greenery, it drowns the heterogeneity of the surrounding built structures.
The fusing of the elements of a city beach and a contemporary city park encourages the area’s residents and visitors to use the space in different ways.
The basic building blocks of the new city park are monolithic, undulating urban elements.
Their controlled placement in the space, in combination with a pronounced topography of the green surfaces, softly divides the whole of the park’s surface into individual introverted program isles.
The design of the individual urban elements consistently follows the different programs. In places, they are taller and act as a shelter from views and the noisy surroundings; elsewhere, they are lower and allow for an unimpeded contact between program zones.
The organically designed urban elements form stands for viewers, an obstacle course for children, climbing walls, a backdrop to a seaside bar, a concert venue, a children’s playground, a reading area, and more.
Due to the proximity of the sea, the program zones are appointed with numerous water elements.
A pond, ground sprinklers, a geyser, parabolic water jets, cascades, and a water platform in combination with the variegated urban elements encourage active use of the space and an expansion of the future beach towards the interior of the park.
The planted portion of the landscape design is laid out only with indigenous Mediterranean vegetation.
The strategically arranged tall growth complements the existing tree lanes on both edges of the park, gives shade to the individual program zones, and offers the park area additional protection from the impacts of the surroundings.
In order to encourage as much diversity in the use of its space, the new city park doesn’t feature traditionally designed footpaths.
Interlocking paving with a free arrangement of grass-colored tiles is limited to the access points and the sections of the park where a more intensive use of the ground is expected.
In this way, the visitors define their own path and their own manner of using the space.
In case new content is added to the park, or if obvious desire lines are formed, which is very difficult to predict initially, this manner of paving enables an easy rearrangement of the compacted surfaces at a later time.
The innovative layout of the city park is a great new asset for the citizens of Koper as it enables the development of the program which the city presently cannot offer.
The new park is an attraction, and with its unique form and the manner of spatial organization, it transcends a merely functional park regulation.
It represents a prototype for further designing of the wider area, as well as motivation for development-oriented attitudes in regard to other sections of the Slovene seacoast currently in a state of decay.
Project: Koper Central Park
Client: Koper Municipality
General Contractor: Grafist
Photographer: Miran Kambič