The French Garden

Public space or parking lot?

The French Revolution Square lies situated next to the Križanke open air theatre. It was named in 1929 when architect Jože Plečnik and sculptor Lojze Dolinar decided for a monument in honor of Napoleon’s Illyrian Provinces. The square has been renovated recently, however, it is still filled with cars every day of the week.

With our French Garden project, we tried to discover the square’s potential: how would it be used if it was free of cars? For the duration of twelve days, we transformed it into a French garden. We reproduced typical hedge patterns of French parks using plastic bottle crates.

On the day of the opening, visitors of all generations came and used the garden in their own way. Children were running around tirelessly, jumping over the “obstacles”, others sat enjoying drinks and pancakes. During an organized live music concert, the garden turned into a dance floor, its structure of smaller booths preventing the space to get too crowded. Mid-week, the garden came to life during school breaks, when pupils of the nearby Secondary School of Design used it as a place to sit and eat lunch or to chat with friends. At the time of music concerts in Križanke theatre, the garden provided space to those listening to the concert outside the theatre walls. It was also used as a site of many children’s workshops and as a site of The Library Under The Trees.

The myriad of possibilities of the garden’s uses as well as its popularity, puts to question the purpose of the square as it is now, used only as a repository for vehicles. The initiative calls for a more considerate approach towards the use of this urban space.

French Revolution Square in Ljubljana

Sponsors: City Council of Ljubljana, Ljubljana Tourist Board, Tesa gallery

Partners: French Institute Charles Nodier, City Museum of Ljubljana, Codeep, Library under Trees

Photo: Ivan Ilic, Katja Vidmar, Luka Cjuha, Klemen Prepeluh