Infrastructure as an important part of urban space
Connecting the city’s central park Zvezda with Plečnik Square in front of the Maximarket department store, the Plečnik Underpass is one of the busiest pedestrian routes between the old and the new part of Ljubljana centre.
In the well thought-out design of architect Bitenc from 1960s, stairs and ramps slowly descend to the level of underpass, leaving enough space to display findings of roman artefacts. At the beginning of its existence, the underpass housed various shops. Due to insufficient maintenance of the underpass, they eventually fell into decay. For quite some time, the walls of the underpass were covered in graffiti, the plaster was peeling off, the lamps were shattered and an it was marked by an unpleasant smell.
When the above street was being renovated, the possibility for underpass’ renewal and regeneration opened up. We aimed to renovate the ramps adjacent to the underpass and to redesign the underpass’ space for shops. We used metal wall panels, since they were multifunctional and provided space for the lighting, for the dustbins and for the benches. The perforations prevented vandalism and their gold colour created a pleasant ambience. Every second panel opened, so that a shop window was in plain sight during the day, while, the closed panels protected the windows during the night. At both entrances to the underpass, where there was enough natural light, we placed wooden benches stretching out of the metal panels.
With this renovation we tried to show that infrastructural elements are an important part of city’s space. If properly designed and, more importantly, properly maintained, they can serve as a place where people meet and gather, contributing to a better image of the city.