Regenerating the Historic Urban Landscape through Circular Bottom-Up Actions: The Urban Seeding Process in Rijeka
2. Literature Review
2.1. The Circular Economy and the Circular City
3.1. Cultural Richness in the History of Rijeka
3.2. The Spatial Context of the City
3.3. The Strategy of Rijeka and CLIC
- Integrated urban planning;
- Candidature for the European Capital of Culture, finally achieved; and
- Construction of city infrastructure.
- Protection and improvement of the quality of life and citizen health:
- Creation of conditions for an independent life for young people;
- Health protection and improvement (educational and health programs, sports, recreation);
- Modern social policy; and
- Creation of conditions for independent work for young people.
- RiHub , located on the northern edge of the city center. RiHub is a multiuse collaborative space in a former tissue factory, aiming to become an incubator of the creative city, integrating the programs by empowering a community through civil initiatives and becoming a platform for active citizenship.
- The Galeb Ship [67,68,69], a key symbol of Yugoslav socialist iconography, is a national monument for having been used as diplomatic residence by the former Yugoslavian president Tito. After the restoration and refurbishment into a museum, restaurant and hostel, the Galeb will be moored on the Rijeka’s Breakwater Molo Longo, guaranteeing regular visits.
- The modernist building of the Energana power plant of the paper-mill factory Hartera was built in 1931 as the most modern electric center, with a steam turbine that generated 3200 horsepower and modern installations. Its adaptive reuse envisioned creating an incubator of cultural and creative industries (CCI) and ICT industry through European Cohesion funds.
- In a second stage, the City of Rijeka also included the new cultural complex in Benčić, a former industry [67,70,71] currently under renovation and reconstruction, that will host various cultural institutions (museums, library, children’s house), presently scattered throughout the city. The program intensity in the Benčić complex will have a positive mutual benefit and encourage an existing offer of permanent and temporary services.
- An additional asset, characterized by proximity to the city center and the Delta, is the Exportdrvo’s large industrial warehouse, which has the spatial and logistic potential to host a diverse program of ECoC 2020, such as expositions, concerts and festivals indoors. Such potentials encouraged the Port Authority and the City of Rijeka to begin the hall refurbishment and dedicate it to the citizens’ use .
4.1. The Cultural Corridor
- Debating cultural heritage adaptive reuse while respecting the concepts of authenticity and integrity, in line with the most recent trends in conservation ;
- The connection among the selected objects to be regenerated, namely the Galeb ship, the Rihub center and the Energana power plant;
- The establishment of new tools or systems to respond appropriately to the historic urban landscape approach while taking advantage of the new inputs from the circular economy and its impact on environmental enhancement ;
- Provide better living environments for the citizens and the visitors; and
- Imagining forms of businesses to respond to the increasing unemployment of the urban area.
- Regenerating the Rječina River, as a core asset in the historic urban landscape of the city, jointly with the sea and the waterfront;
- Promoting the slow use of the city, counting on the historic urban landscape regeneration and the inspirations from the circular economy, with attention to new businesses and new employment forms;
- Enhancing the city cultural heritage in its tangible and intangible components; and
- Improving the internal and external accessibility of the city, in particular reducing car use and pollution.
4.2. The Cultural Corridor Model
4.3. The Implementation Process of the Cultural Corridor Model in Rijeka
- The Molo Longo, the breakwater of the city port reaching to the center, presently one of the main attractions for residents for weekend strolling and jogging;
- The Galeb Ship, for years located in Port Baross, will after the renovation be moored in the central harbor;
- Port Baross itself, hosting impressive modernist architecture presently underused, but holding an exceptional location in the real estate of the city;
- The Exportdrvo warehouse, one of the main wood exporters in the former Yugoslavia, today partly in use as multifunctional space and depot;
- The Delta area, an exceptional plot of land between the two inner canals, presently underused as urban main parking area;
- The Rječina River and Dead channel, the two watercourses, completely underused contrary to the past;
- The Školjić Area and industrial complexes by the inner Rječina area, including the Energana and Hartera facilities, presently partly abandoned and avoided by residents; and
- The historic city center, including the main city market, the Rihub center, the former Školijć pool and the Archaeological park Principium, the Tarsatica period Mosaics, medieval historic city walls, and many more are daily suggested for an integrated HUL policy.
4.4. The Characteristics of a Cultural Corridor
- A safe and inspiring environment;
- A multifunctional human-centered area;
- A space of exemplary interventions on cultural and natural heritage preservation and valorization;
- A flexible room for innovative initiatives on sustainable living;
- A leisure space, healthy and welcoming, and thus without vehicles and consequent pollution, hosting green and cultural events.
- Proximity and integration of the cultural offerings, hopefully in a multifunctional concept.
- Mapping of assets (territorial, cultural, natural, tangible, intangible), and their prioritization and potentials;
- Enhancement of urban accessibility and connectivity of the selected heritage places;
- Codesign and cocreation with the stakeholders and local community of the integrated regeneration; and
- Fostering the social and cultural creative activities and initiatives within the area of revitalization.
4.5. Urban Seeding
- Select the specific urban areas to be redeveloped. The initiative can emerge from different actors: city, local city boards, citizens or other organizations’ initiatives. In the case of Rijeka, the Cultural Corridor was the testing and target area;
- Compose a more multidisciplinary group of players with professional and personal interests in the redevelopment of the area (economists, planners, artists and designers, ecologists, tourism and hospitality experts, etc.) and other interest groups (history, heritage, tradition and craft specialists, artisans, etc.), as well as stakeholders to be included in the process;
- Define the leading role and/or tutorship for the working groups;
- Introduce the leading concepts of the area development, namely for the Cultural Corridor, cultural heritage adaptive reuse, circular economy and historic urban landscape notions;
- Organize the groups’ site visits to critically assess the spatial context and offer the participants a discussion platform. This step is fundamental to get participants to experience the area, even though they already are familiar with it. The essential focus of this step is reminding them, onsite, of the purpose of the redevelopment idea (circular economy; cultural heritage reuse and redevelopment);
- Organize the groups’ workshops to work on the topics, provide expertise and examples if needed, and consult with relevant stakeholders to obtain consensus and/or advice on permissions, existing plans and possible integrations with existing programs; and
- Commit to the final spatial integration of ideas of selected feasible and implementable projects. See Figure 5 for the organization of the seeding.
4.6. The Urban Seeding Workshops in Rijeka
- Did not have specific knowledge about cultural heritage conservation and protection. None of them had a specialization in the field, given that this is not yet a well-developed field of study in the country;
- Did not have specific knowledge about the historic urban landscape approach, and this must be connected to the previous point, as well as to the relatively small tradition in the country to deal with historic urban areas through integrated approaches. This may depend on the relatively short life of Croatia as an independent country; and
- Did not have specific insights into the circular-economy theory. If it is indubitable that younger generations have already developed an intense environmental sensitivity, this does not mean that this is logically and theoretically transferred to individual research.
- The transverse corridor, crossing the inner-city area and connecting the Benčić Complex with the river and channel area at the Delta, where it overlaps with the Cultural Corridor;
- The whole Rječina and Dead Channel area from Rječina Canyon to the river’s mouth in the Delta;
- The Rječina upper-stream area from Školjić to the Rječina Canyon, including adjoining streets on both banks (Ružićeva Street and Vodovodna Street);
- The specific intersection in the inner-city area, aiming to extend the cultural and social attractions from the main city street Korzo; and
- The Rijeka primary waterfront, by the Riva and Riva Bodulli, with the Galeb Ship to be moored at Molo Longo breakwater, connecting Port Baross and the Delta.
- Urban or spatial dimension, by considering urban and public spaces’ connectivity, mobility, accessibility, urban services and infrastructure, and bridging the gaps to provide better pedestrian safety and use;
- Circular dimension concerning cultural heritage on three scales (urban, building and object) by creating local circular loops and local partnerships for raising the additional value of the cultural heritage itself;
- Cultural and natural heritage (assets) and environmental integration through the adaptive reuse of cultural heritage through awareness-raising and positive environmental impact; and
- Social, cultural and economic dimensions by empowerment through social activation and sharing economies.
- Group 1—Benčić Art KvartSome ideas for the Benčić Complex, a sort of museum district [88,89] of the city presently missing an adequate integrated connection to the city center, were designed to operate microinterventions enhancing the cultural experience. In particular, this was done by integrating revitalization of assets excluded by the ongoing municipal revitalization process, such as the Teatrino Building, a former small popular theatre, and the Benčić Complex piazza. The stakeholders to be initially included or fostering implementation were mapped.
- For the Teatrino Building, interior and exterior interventions revitalizing the building through do-it-together workshops were imagined. The Teatrino would host a multipurpose space for various creative uses, such as puppet shows, workshops for puppet creation, performances, seminars, etc., together with providing essential utilities and services (sanitary facilities). The facade’s exterior interventions focus on the regreening and creation of art murals by respecting the building’s material substance and allowing the facade’s upgrade and decoration through participatory community workshops.
- The public open spaces in the Benčić Complex Area would be repaved reusing the stones removed in the renovations of nearby Šečerana palace and amended with traditional children’s games and instruction panels on the game rules (for example, Cip-Cop game). The wooden rest areas and urban furniture would form a central park in the Benčić Complex.
- Group 2—Rječina & Dead Channel Waterfront: Ružićeva Street, Vodovodna Street
- The overall idea works on improving accessibility through an upgrade of sports and recreation infrastructure to promote a healthier lifestyle, commencing from similar activities by identified stakeholders in the area.
- This is how one proposal addresses the reuse of natural resources (rock cliffs) and cultural heritage (Hartea Staircases) by developing rock climbing as a local activity present in the area (new climbing school) and thus revitalizing the connection to the Trsat and Kozala through sports. The creation of a cycling path for leisure and recreation by using the rare natural feature of flat terrain in Rijeka by the Rječina River would connect with the city districts at a higher elevation using city transportation buses upgraded with bike-racks/carriers (coming to the city with the bike, returning by bus).
- The River Waterfront redevelopment would give access to the water by providing new infrastructure and regulation of riverbanks. The terraced river waterfront with a green beach and a new cycling path would provide the diverse possibility of use and a leisure destination in Rijeka’s center, offering fun, sports, recreation and reading (small interventions like book-sharing houses).
- The project encompasses preserving the city’s cultural heritage and its HUL by creating a river market on the Dead Channel and revitalizing the Školjić city pool. The flea market on boats was modeled based on the channel’s history, where in the early 20th century, fishermen were selling fresh fish directly from their boats.
- Group 3: The Green Scape of the Cultural Corridor AreaThis group developed areas along the Rječina River, the Dead Channel and the Delta area, presently entirely devoted to parking spaces, by focusing on green areas and abandoned or underused industrial sites. The stakeholders to be initially included in the processes were identified:
- The overall idea is based on the traffic reorganization of the Ružičeva and Vodovodna streets, turning them into a one-way direction, with an entry at Ružičeva Street and exit at Vodovodna Street. The project tries to solve different levels of the area’s traffic burden. The traffic reorganization would allow stronger pedestrianization of the area by moving the cars occupying the area into a new green parking garage in the Školjić Autorolej area. Additionally, the Autotrolej area, being emptied of the public bus garage, would be redeveloped as a new park, continuing the current Tree Alley by the Rječina. The pedestrianized area would therefore connect to the city center’s pedestrianised areas with much less effort.
- The new pedestrianized areas would allow the introduction of simple and common small-scale solutions that also offer a new interpretation of the cultural history of Rijeka. A history window made of recycled glass/plexiglass, displaying the historic scenery outlined by the current view, would show the landscape of Rijeka in the past. By implementing QR codes links, citizens/visitors could obtain more information about the areas, thus raising heritage awareness. The simple regreening solutions were introduced along the new pedestrianized area, reusing the light poles and other public infrastructure fixtures.
- Focusing on the adaptive reuse of the whole Hartera area, the group proposed creating urban gardens on the flat roofs of the Hartera facilities, providing the vegetables for the restaurant and culinary workshops in the Energana power plant, where craft beer would also be produced. In the aqueduct area of Hartera, the group proposed the galleries and exhibition spaces for Rijeka’s young artists and the art school’s bazaar, accompanied by recurring social and cultural activities, creating murals and 3D graffiti, and promoting natural and cultural heritage under the hashtag #RIJEKATEDRŽI.
- Connecting to group 4 proposals for repair shops and reuse activities in Vitezovićeva Street, group 3 proposed the organization of exchange/swap/share events of various items (books, clothes, furniture, etc.) in the new pedestrianized squares and streets in the city center (Kobler Square, St. Barbara Square, Paulines Square, Klobučarić Square, Jelačić Square, Theatre Square), assisted by reuse/repair/upgrade services (group 4) of the swapped materials at the event.
- Group 4: The City CenterGroup 4 worked on the historic center, trying to integrate the presently highly used cultural assets with the less valued ones, mainly located close to the river and the canal. References to the archaeological remains and the narrow medieval streets were made, with interesting connections to circular-economy practices in buildings’ adaptive reuse.
- In Urban Vision, they focused on reviving abandoned parts of the city by introducing circular-economy practices and preserving cultural heritage. This is how, in the street of Pavel Ritter Vitezović, they proposed to reuse the abandoned ground-floor business premises to be repurposed for second-hand shops, workshops for furniture repairs and production of recycled-glass objects. Additionally, the newly introduced Nature-Based Solution (NBS) Cloud above the ground-floor level, providing shade and additional greenery, heavily lacking in the city center, would enclose the street as a whole.
- In the Ivan Klobučarić Square, the group redesigned the encaged children’s play area into a friendlier and more welcoming area. Extending the RiCikleta network by providing a new station in the square is needed for urban connectivity within the city center, adjoining the existing underground garage.
- Moreover, addressing the HUL principles, they proposed reusing the abandoned building site’s concrete foundation slabs as bases for the exhibition showrooms made of recycled glass and exhibiting the city of Rijeka’s history. Nearby, the historic city walls, currently stored behind an advertisement board, would be reused, partly enclosing the rest area with the city model and providing shade. The possibility of conservation and exhibition of the ancient Tarsatica mosaics in front of the former Christian Basilica nearby was considered.
- Contributing to the circular-economy implementation, the group developed the Vitezović street’s programmatic focus, creating a local loop of reuse/recycle/upcycle/restore/resell activities, thus enhancing the socioeconomic situation of the area. The growing demand for refurbishing old apartments with rustic or original furniture and decoration opens an opportunity to develop the restoration of old furniture. Allowing citizens to restore, sell or buy furniture or other products in one place, instead of throwing them away, references the City Service Riperaj—the repair cafe. The group considered that repurposing materials, such as old clothes, textiles and the waste glass, would reduce the environmental impact; for example, each metric ton of reused glass in the production of new glass emits 315 kg less of carbon dioxide emissions.
- Group 5: The Lower WaterfrontGroup 5 focused on the lower waterfront, highlighting the tangible and intangible potentials of the area. Among the proposals was the connection with the nearby historical market for food-waste avoidance, generating a virtuous circle with tangible and intangible sources. The overall idea works to raise awareness for cultural heritage and bridge the secluded area gap by attracting people to the area, enabling access and repurposing the area through preservation and area cocreation. The potential stakeholders to be included in the process were also identified (Figure 11):
- Creating a light installation on the Heritage Movable Bridge and its subsequent opening would make the area more accessible and reorganize the movement flow. The idea was transferred from the nearby Port Cranes installation and can connect further industrial-heritage city landmarks, such as the Energana Chimney. Additionally, QR codes would be installed on the cultural-heritage assets to achieve synergy with the University of Rijeka’s rijekaheritage.org project.
- The Exportdrvo building’s adaptive reuse was imagined as a multipurpose event venue, providing events focusing on social sustainability, alternating weekly/monthly, and gradually taking over the space. Prototyping and creating urban furniture and providing workshops would link the new and original use of the building (export timber warehouse). The exterior of Exportdrvo would be enhanced by the introduction of the NBS solution, bringing the greenery into the built lower city center, using steel wire supports for climbing plants following the facade openings pattern.
- The Food Outlet/Street Food Market would prepare meals based on daily market surplus, offering healthy food at affordable prices in front of the Exportdrvo building. In reference to the existing yearly event of the PortoEtno Festival, the outlets would be recurring on daily and weekly bases, encompassed by the yearly event.
6.1. About the Corridor
- The Common Pool Resource, because the corridor is establishing within clear boundaries—in the case of Rijeka, offered by the geomorphology of the city and the perception of the actors interviewed, as well as by linking the three CLIC assets, Energana, Rihub and Galeb—an enlarged community-based and managed resource, in which the leading conditions are the absence of excludability but an intense (potential) rivalry. Within the corridor, the conditions are set, namely the respect of the circular economy’s principles, the valorization of the city’s cultural and natural heritage, tangible and intangible, and essential commitment. To achieve the proper corridor function, the integration of uses, multifunctionality and proximity are important for the proper attractiveness, cooperation and competitiveness that characterize the cultural districts [88,89]. To let the corridor work in its cultural mission, accessibility should be adequately addressed in a sustainable, human-centered, safe and healthy way.
- The Cultural Corridor was designed to be codesigned. The CoE 2000 Convention’s main contribution was to consider landscape as “perceived by people”: this has been feeding the international debate for two decades, asking for explanations and specifications. The Cultural Corridor in Rijeka has demonstrated that space can become a place again if the contribution comes from users’ experience, aware of history and capable of reimagining future use.
- The aesthetic or heritage community is essential for the corridor, and this is why this notion grasped and gave to the CoE Faro Convention (2005). The corridor’s community is not simply “local”, but is an extended one made of those who care, and is open to others that do care about culture, cultural heritage and the circular economy. However, care is not enough, because there is a lot of competence to be guaranteed in the process, and such competence should be built up through experts, policymakers, enthusiasts and specialists, as local professionals, craftsmen and artisans. As per the common pool resource concept, actors are essential to contribute to and monitor the progress of the place.
- The Cultural Corridor in Rijeka is a sort of stratification of the city’s history, displaying many of its layers through tangible and intangible assets. It contains the rivers and the channels that gave birth to the city; the historic castle path; the industrial buildings and infrastructure; the medieval, Austro-Hungarian, socialist and modern architecture; and the aggregation and production places of the city through centuries, although not all are clearly shown, but are in a reasonable combination. The corridor also includes the sea, which has been for too long left aside in the city. All these assets require regeneration; some need adaptive reuse, some need maintenance, and others simply need attention and promotion; the Heritage Innovative Partnership process has highlighted participants’ interest to consider this as the proper area to relaunch the city. In this respect, it was the predecessor to the implementation of the HUL approach in the city.
6.2. About Urban Seeding
- The participants should be highly motivated and skilled. The initial intention was to have, in fact, young professionals at the early stage of their careers or students in their final study year to conduct intense research and participate in the aspects of the circular economy as applied to culture and cultural space. The reason behind this, which was not immediately grasped by participants, was to open an individual and group investigation about the potential business and job opportunities behind the work, with the ambition to possibly promote new circular-economy entrepreneurs. The working groups’ composition had to be multidisciplinary and the groups not too numerous, permitting dialogue, self-production and equal expression to make proposals balanced in terms of economic feasibility and impact, cultural preservation or promotion, and environmental appropriateness and social benefit.
- Although focusing on microactions, Urban Seeding should develop planning ideas at different scales of intervention. This initial idea was fundamental to differentiate from many of the existing practices in space-making. Participants, although divided into groups with different areas and different topics, had to see their commitment at a different scale because one of the Cultural Corridor’s key factors is the integration and complementarity of projects to avoid unbalanced economies in its extension. Additionally, the seeds have to be replicable, and this condition can be achieved if there is awareness of other areas’ constraints and potentials.
- Failing should be a possibility. This is the natural condition of the seeds. Even though they were low-cost and easily applicable, some of the proposals could not work in some areas, but could be extremely successful in some others. The factors of success can be partly predicted, and depend on different internal and external conditions.
- Relevant stakeholders must be partly committed to contributing to the implementation of ideas. This aspect could only be partially explored in the process due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the relevant stakeholders’ interest in contributing may or may not allow the seeds to happen. Approval and contributions, which include suggestions and accompaniment, should be in line with local policies, be fundable, and be “political” as well.
- Continuing the research for education in the project fields, namely the circular economy, cultural-heritage preservation and historic urban landscape management. Still, in Europe, there is a different understanding of the fundamentals in all disciplines, and this may depend on many factors that are not merely rooted in the economic scenarios;
- Continuing the research on “participatory practices”. If there is an undoubted contribution by society’s involvement at large in the regeneration process, the success is not yet fully guaranteed. In the Rijeka case, in which the participatory workshops were limited to professionals and students at their late academic stages, the pandemic opened important questions about the feasibility of participatory processes when participation is not possible. Design and planning still very much depend on experts’ knowledge and competence, and the research should favor the understanding of this.
- Research tends to forget that urban policies need different scales, and all must coexist. Regenerating a city cannot be based merely on local spared actions, but forms of governance also are needed to guarantee the appropriate creativity regarding an “urban landscape”. To date, there is a risk to level the specific knowledge in different fields of expertise to accommodate generalized and globalized trends. This can be clearly seen when talking about cultural-heritage preservation, reuse, adaptation, maintenance, etc.
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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|Combined Proposals (Questionnaires and Workshop)|
|Cultural Heritage to be Enhanced||Cultural Heritage to be Used||Spatial-Integration Needs|
|Rječina River and the landscape.||Reopen the former city beach.||Remove the parking area of the bus company.|
|The connection route from the city center to the paper factory and the watermills (along the river).||The ship buildings and the waterfront (between Delta and Molo Longo and between Žabica bus station and the train station) belong to the port company, and it is an off-limits area for the citizens.||Expansion of the pedestrian zone (or create new pedestrian zones) to the Delta, the waterfront and the Benčić.|
|Delta and the waterfront along Riva street are parking and storage at present; these areas should be reused and open to the public.||Zamet cave is not well-known by the public.||Landscape design at the Benčić and injunction of more green space in the city center and the Delta area.|
|Molo Longo and the port cranes (new facilities, more activities and cycling/walking path).||Cemetery KOZALA is not well-known to the public||Digitalisation of the old city centre.|
|The public spaces and squares, including the Delta area and the square in front of the Nikola Tesla Elementary School. More facilities and green space.||Revitalize the fishing activities.||Revive the story of Rijeka as a historical industrial leader. A museum about industrial history might use the former paper factory.|
|Traditional meals: -BAŠKOT, polenta, Ribice and Rapska tora, Rabska torta.||Local boats and Kalafati craftsmanship.||Valorize people’s ability and freedom to be authentic.|
|Protect the water resources and increase awareness of them.||Conservation project for the covered mosaic square.||Protect some buildings.|
|Regenerate all the green parks (mlaka, delta, Trsat, nature history museum…).||Revitalize the unknown cuisine in Ivan Kobler square.||The dilapidated warehouse area near the train station and some unused industrial buildings along the Rječina river might be delisted.|
|Enhance the Dominikanski samostan (Domnican Convent).||The theatre Fenice should be reused.||Ticketing for tourists at Trsat castle, but keep it for free for locals.|
|Kiša umbrella - designed locally and related to the local climate.||Reuse the warehouse near the waterfront.||Revitalize the Hartera music festival and envelop the local music (rock music).|
|The Galerija Principij.||Remove the old Žabica bus station and build a new one near the Delta 5.|
|The conservation project and the regular maintenance of the heritage and historic buildings.||New great concert hall.|
|Žičara-Trsat network (cablecar).|
|New cycling routes cross the city center|
|Zipline to Trsat castle.|
|New religion museum.|
|Remove the PVC advertising in the old city center.|
|New community or cultural center for citizens and diversity groups.|
|Improve the communication of the public and participation possibilities.|
|New international platform can increase the attractiveness of the city.|
|New multimedia library.|
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Acri, M.; Dobričić, S.; Debevec, M. Regenerating the Historic Urban Landscape through Circular Bottom-Up Actions: The Urban Seeding Process in Rijeka. Sustainability 2021, 13, 4497. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13084497
Acri M, Dobričić S, Debevec M. Regenerating the Historic Urban Landscape through Circular Bottom-Up Actions: The Urban Seeding Process in Rijeka. Sustainability. 2021; 13(8):4497. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13084497Chicago/Turabian Style
Acri, Marco, Saša Dobričić, and Maja Debevec. 2021. "Regenerating the Historic Urban Landscape through Circular Bottom-Up Actions: The Urban Seeding Process in Rijeka" Sustainability 13, no. 8: 4497. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13084497