How architect Jože Plečnik shaped Ljubljana to become the city with a green soul

by Uroš Črnigoj

The urban planning vision by the world famous architect Jože Plečnik which made Ljubljana look unique, also preserved its vast green spaces for the future generations. Besides that Plečnik was implementing sustainable solutions at a time when no one had even talked about them yet.

The architect Jože Plečnik literally redesigned his home city of Ljubljana. When in 2017 the Vision 2025 strategy was adopted by the Municipality of Ljubljana, many of its projects, aimed at sustainable reshaping of the city, simply picked things up after Plečnik's designs. Walkways built at the picturesque Ljubljanica river embankments were one of those, just following the spirit of his original vision.

Green mobility according to Jože Plečnik

In 1920s when Plečnik was simultaneously working on projects in Prague and Ljubljana, his urban planning scheme for his home city was beginning to take shape. He made his home in Trnovo district, a poor, semi-rural suburb at the time. From there he always walked to the city, getting to know it from the perspective of a pedestrian.

So it's probably not surprising that his famous Triple Bridge (1932) consists of the original central bridge built in 1842 (architect: Giovanni Picco) and adding to it two adjacent bridges for pedestrians. How's that for a sustainable approach to regulating traffic?

At about the same time he planted rows of chestnuts along the Gradaščica canal near his own house and built the Trnovo Bridge crossing it, upgrading public spaces with the colour green which is something has been doing on a regular basis. Today Trnovo Bridge remains one of just a few bridges in the world planted by trees (in its case, beautiful white birches).

  • Plečnik house/Trnovo Bridge
  • Plečnik house/Trnovo Bridge

Bringing new life to degraded areas

Plečnik was also actively reshaping the degraded areas. Two examples of this are the former river port at Trnovo Pier and the dillapidated remains of the Roman Wall at Mirje, which he saved from being torn down. His vision for Trnovo Pier was an idyllic riverside retreat, dedicated to active recreation, relaxation and socialising. The Roman wall he restored into a kind of monument / hangout which is also a popular practice spot for freestyle climbers these days. He surrounded it by a park, adding one more green spot to the city.

In building the St. Michael's church on the Marshes Plečnik used recycling to a stunning result. Lacking funds for the project but determined to provide a magnificent place of worship for the poor peasants, he used recycled materials and the skills of local craftsmen. The result is one of most innovative and original looking buildings in Slovenia.

  • Roman Wall/Trnovo pier
  • Roman Wall/Trnovo pier

Get to know the Plečnik's Ljubljana

Many other works by the architect Plečnik set the blueprint for the modern Ljubljana and are today among the highlights of our city, proudly bearing the title of European Green Capital 2016.

Some of other best known examples of sustainable Plečnik's architecture are:

Check out the list of sights of the Plečnik's Ljubljana.

Uroš Črnigoj

Uroš is the digital content manager at Ljubljana Tourism. He is also a person who never gets tired of discovering new experiences in Ljubljana and its surrounding areas.

More about Uroš Črnigoj

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