High School in the centre of Ljubljana has no school yard or open space of its own, so the teachers and students decided to design a terrace garden.
Jože Plečnik High School is a public school owned and financed by the government in the centre of Ljubljana and has no school yard or open space of its own. The school management was looking for a way to offer its students a safe green space to relax, learn and socialise and the idea for a roof garden was suggested. Due to a lack of funds, a diverse public-private partnership of the high school (including students), landscape designers NGO Pazi!park and several donor companies was established in 2015.
A 50m2 roof garden on a terrace was created through a series of successive workshops over six months. The terrace was designed to encourage the growth of many diverse plants whilst ensuring there is suitable space for students to socialise. In addition to the beds, benches and storage space for equipment was incorporated into the plan. The planting design considered the specific growing conditions on the roof (e.g. the exposure to the wind and the sun, drought and drying of the soil, winter frost). All the construction, sowing and planting was carried out by students themselves, with the help of expert mentors. Building the garden forged bonds between participants; it led to mutual understanding and trust, and to raised awareness and responsibility towards the environment. The little terrace is not just a vegetable garden but also an outdoor classroom, a laboratory for discovering nature and a place for socialising in the open air.
Due to donor companies and voluntary work (students, teachers, NGO) the value of the project is much higher than the actual cost: 20% of the total value were material costs payed by school (cca 4.000 EUR), 25% of voluntary work and 55% of donations.
Evidence of success
The terrace is a big success and is much liked and visited during lessons and school breaks by students of every new generation. Various events, workshops and culinary events are now taking place in the terrace garden. The variety of vegetation and selection of species attract bees, butterflies and other insects, increasing the biodiversity of a predominantly urbanised area. The success of the project lead to a similar renovation of the big school terrace in 2017.
The main challenge was lack of funds, which was compensated greatly by voluntary work and donor companies. That made project more demanding for management and coordination. Without dedicated / passionate individuals and the expert help of an NGO it would be hard to realize the project.
Potential for learning or transfer
The good practice was presented to the PERFECT partnership and stakeholders during one of the partner’s meetings. It was also presented as a good practice of some of other EU projects (AgriGo4Cities, Human Cities 2).
The practice is easily transferable and can be recreated with little resources and a lot of engagement. Tips for the transfer: a) One should always start with a clear idea, presented to as many stakeholders as possible (they can help with the later implementation), b) first step should always be supported by decision-makers (e.g. a principle of the school or other institution), c) action plan should be made by experts who consider all the aspects and can offer technical and aesthetic guidance that makes the implementation easier, d) one of the main measures of sustainable planning is to involve different experts in order to gain new knowledge and to include future users into the process as soon as possible (participatory co-design).
Please login to see the expert opinion of this good practice.