Urban Realities

Posted on: 18th March 2015


creative visions for abandoned construction pits

by Boštjan Bugarič and Mateja Kurir

in collaboration with Museum of Architecture and Design (Ljubljana)

In cooperation with the Museum of Architecture and Design Ljubljana an interactive Blind Date of European architects, planners and experts in urban development will be organised in autumn 2015. Under the title “Urban Realities” a collaboration of three selected teams together with local experts will be started. Invited architects and planners will work on a concrete topic and on abandoned construction pits in the city of Ljubljana.

A city walk through Ljubljana will open the event. Together we will discover abandoned pits and learn about the existing reality. A proposal of future uses of these sites will be developed within a discussion of the international teams and local experts. The visions for new urban realities will be presented to and discussed with the audience in a public event in the evening. 

Ljubljana’s wider center hides at least ten construction pits, which are devastated for years. After the collapse of the biggest construction companies in Slovenia their remains in Ljubljana evokes many problems. This unfinished construction pits are empty and degraded. Thought there is a strong gentrification and also turistification process going on in the city centre of Ljubljana. The mayor Zoran Janković is still convinced that Ljubljana is the most beautiful city in the world.

“Slovenia is not a friendly country in terms of foreign investment and the attitude towards those who gather the courage and even their own money to build something new, it’s quite shocking.” said Csaba Toth, director of the project company Emonika, new passenger-shopping center with a 100-foot tower, which should be constructed out of the hole at the railway station. According to Toth municipal contribution and compensation for building land are extremely high – among the highest in Europe, as well as labour costs and bureaucracy, which is very complicated.

What will happen with devastated construction pits in the future?

  1. North City Gates: The Hole at Tivoli Park

The construction of North City Gates, where the company S1 wanted to build a 70-meter tower, collapsed because nobody paid security for the starting price of 3.9 million euros excluding VAT. What will be the next steps of the sales? The company is seeking extension of a building permit, which will soon expire.


  1. Šumi: Temporary Parking

The project company Šumijev kvart owned by KD Group Matjaz Gantar, deny that around 50 million-project stands. In 2013 they announced that there “are conducted intensive activities for the completion of the project. There are discussions going on with the potential business partnership with well-known foreign investors. In the meantime the project is adapting to new realities in Ljubljana.” The project has been changed several times; the first building permit was issued in December 2008. This year is 19 years since Boris Podrecca won the competition for this project.


  1. Emonika: Ambitious on Paper Already for Eleven Years

“Although still nothing visible on the project site, is Emonika on track,” provides Csaba Toth. The project is owned by the Canadian-Hungarian investment company TriGranit. According to Toth remains the construction was expected to begin in late 2013, the opening of the shopping and entertainment center, railway and bus stations and parking capacity by the end of 2015. The project is worth around 320 million euros and negotiations for its construction was ran with Ministry of Ex Economic Ministry (now Ministry of Economic Development and Technology), Slovenian Railways and Municipality of Ljubljana.


4. Belle Vie Tivoli: Water Instead of Housing

Enegroplan company got stuck after excavation of the one of the more problematic construction pit. Abanka could not find a common language with Energoplan regard to the financing of the 50-million project. Meanwhile a search for over ten investors to the project by each of about a million euros in so-called condominium project or joint ownership is still going on. The financial crisis and subsequent compulsory settlement Energoplan was no longer able to continue the project and today the construction pit is full of stagnant water.


  1. Tribuna: Leftover after Collapse

Following the bankruptcy of Kraški zidar is the unfinished construction of residential complex Tribuna in Prule. Project is worth about 20 million euro.


  1. Dalmatinka: Printing Ghost

In the center of Ljubljana there is a deserted building complex called Dalmatinka. It should be eight floors building on the site of the former printing Kleinmayer & Bamberg building. Due to the injection of the concrete foundation the neighbour building started to crack. Based on the municipal spatial plan is allowed to dig three floors underground garage, so the protection of the excavation is very difficult.


  1. Kolizej: Just a History

Kolizej was demolished in 2010. Kranjska investicijska družba (KID) wanted to build a 70-meter building with a concert hall, a hotel and offices. The project collapsed because of the special conservation commission decision, which did not allow the construction of building higher than 30. What are the new plans? “Unfortunately I do not have any concrete plans” explained Jože Anderlič from KID.



  1. Tobačna City: No Investor – No Future

Company Imos plans to build ten towers on the former tobacco factory with the total value of 300 million euros. After the excavation of the construction pit a project is practically standing. The entire project is expected to be too risky to be fully financed with debt. Banks do not give money to continue the project to Imos, which also failed to convince foreigners (the most serious were Azerbaijanis) to donate tens of millions of euros.



  1. Bežigrajski Dvor: No Man’s Land

Bežigrad construction pit is fenced and overgrown with weeds and bushes, but was never issued a building permit for a new building. In 2005, the government and Imos, the then co-owner of the land, filed a request for it, but they later withdrew and since then the matter stands.


  1. Masarykova: Overgown Pit

For several years is this construction pit overgrown with vegetation. In this area Energoplan planned construction of commercial and residential center F3. To the realization did not occur as Energoplan did not acquired all the land; a quarter of them are owned by Energoplan, three quarters owned by the City of Ljubljana. The part, which is owned by the city, surrounding residents get permission for temporary gardens.


This project is possible thanks to Museum of Architecture and Design/Ljubljana (SI), BKA/Vienna (AT) and Arch+Ing/Vienna (AT).