Political Space Matters in Idrija, Slovenia

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– Political Space Matters! Students, Practicioners and Politicians engaged in a discussion. –

Political Space Matters was part of an intensive three-months-workshop about post-industrial urban development. The goal of the workshop was to develop a strategy for the future development of Idrija, a small Slovenian town one bus-hour from Ljubljana. Idrija is a representative example for many small cities in all parts of Europe. It has a rich industrial history and heritage but it lacks a clear vision for the future. The main question of the workshop was How can industrial and cultural heritage become a starting point for urban development beyond tourism?

Together with almost 30 students from different academic disciplines (architecture, sociology, marketing), a team of experienced mentors and financial support from the European Union, we developed a set of ideas, projects and strategies for future development. Our proposals are all based on an in-depth analysis of economic, demographic, social and spatial challenges. The project culminated in an intensive one-week-workshop on site. The first tangible outcome was a public exhibition of our work in the entrance to a mine that was abandoned for more than one decade.

Throughout the workshop, the team of Political Space Matters emphasized the importance of citizen participation and projects designed with instead of for the public. Our goal was not to develop a master plan but rather a set of starting points  and milestones for future development. Our proposals are designed in such a way that citizens are no longer variables in a development-calculation but actors of urban change. We have tried to address especially the young citizens of Idrija, since at the moment many of them are leaving their hometown behind.

We are greateful for this experience and curious to see how Idrija will develop in the future!