LED2LEAP 2021 - Zagreb Team 1

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Area Vuger Valley
Place Sesvete (City of Zagreb)
Country Croatia
Topics community, active listening, participation, reflexivity
Author(s) Katarina Adulmar, Rea Badanjak, Lara Ćuk, Antonia Čubelić, Gabrijela Hercigonja, Lovro Kolarić, Bruno Krehula, Aurora Mihatov, Lara Spajić

Landscape Democracy Rationale

One of the main problems that Vuger Valley faces is pollution and neglect since its significance is not fully recognized by the community. We noticed that communities differ from each other according to socio-economic, cultural, and religious characteristics, resulting in mutual animosity. Our main goal is to turn the green space of the Vuger stream into a space that unites and reconciles members of the Sesvete community.

Location and Scope

Vuger Valley is situated in the eastern part of Zagreb, where it flows from the nature park Medvednica (which is located up north), through Sesvete and its surrounding settlements, and ends with the river Sava.

The biggest settlement in the Vuger Valley is Sesvete, a city district in the eastern part of Zagreb. It is a mixture of urbanized landscape and traditional rural areas due to its position between Zagreb and surrounding settlements. This position, as well as major traffic lanes, mark it as a transitional zone with a lot of traffic going through every day.

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Phase A: Mapping Your Community

Welcome to Our Community and Their Landscape

  • The area of Vuger Valley has 3 main landscape types – natural, rural/traditional and urban/industrial. The rural areas with active agricultural fields and traditional smaller houses can be found up north from Sesvete, while the center and south of Sesvete are more urban and industrial with apartment buildings, industrial complexes, and shopping centers.

The different types of landscapes, as well as different levels of urbanization, have affected the Vuger stream as well. Its characteristics change from being a completely natural stream up north to a channelized stream majority of the flow. The Vuger stream has a lot of tributaries that were formerly used for agricultural irrigation and mills. But now they face degradation and pollution due to neglect and inappropriate maintenance.

As the biggest settlement in the Vuger Valley, Sesvete was chosen as the scope for landscape democracy research topic. The Sesvete city district occupies 26% of the City of Zagreb and is home to 9% of the population. It is the largest city district considering its area and population. The spatial distribution of inhabitants is not uniformed, the urban part having a much bigger population than the rest of the district of Sesvete. The average age is 38 years since it’s populated mainly by younger families. The share of the highly educated population is 14%, 20% has primary, and 57% secondary education. The population of Sesvete started to grow in the 1970s when newcomers from Bosnia begin to migrate to Sesvete. Also, the population of the City of Zagreb started to decline in the 1990s (post-war) while the population of Sesvete continues to grow. The main challenges are identity conflict(s) and antagonism among different communities who live in Sesvete (e.g., native inhabitants from Prigorje and newcomers from Bosnia)

Groups of Actors and Stakeholders in Our Community

Sesvete has cultural differences between communities, which makes it rich in diversity. It is a result of influences from different cultures, industrialization, and wars throughout history. The most prominent groups are the native people from Prigorje, the Roma community, and Bosnian and Herzegovinian settlers. Religion, socioeconomic status, and age formed multilayered communities which encompass all ethnic groups; seniors and people with disabilities, families, the Church, and other religious communities, as well as Non-government organizations.

Relationships Between Our Actors and Groups

Society in Croatia, in general, is one of deep division on many levels, and the communities in Sesvete are no different. Be it on an ethnic basis, political views, age differences, social or economical status. It’s as if people have an easier time finding their differences than common ground. Regarding Sesvete, the most prominent are identity conflicts, differences between socio-economical status, and political views between the native residents from Prigorje, Bosnian settlers, the Roma community, and seniors and people with disabilities. These differences and conflicts are manifested in mutual competition about who has more rights in the community and decision-making. Despite these differences, they do have shared interests, like better stream maintenance and more activities and inclusive contents in open green spaces.

We noticed a system of the power hierarchy in Sesvete, comprised of several layers of community. Such a system produces conflict between the “higher-ups” or government and the general public, mainly caused by corruption in all levels of government and a feeling of exclusion from decision-making. The second one is between the general public and academic society defined by mistrust towards experts. Although the general public has the opportunity to participate in public hearings, they lack the motivation because they see public hearings as charades. In addition, the general public is perceived as incompetent individuals from an expert’s point of view. Since they have extensive knowledge on the issue, the NGOs serve as mediators between the public, experts, and government officials. They also fulfill the role of educators for all those concerned.

Summary of Our Learnings from the Transnational Discussion Panel

Participation of students from different Universities enabled an exchange of ideas and thoughts through which participants gained valuable insight into different problem-solving processes. This experience will help in the further development of the project.

Theory Reflection

Going through the key readings we came across some interesting thesis that we find applicable for the challenges our communities are facing.

LED Team (2019), Landscape Education for Democracy

  • “The healthy redevelopment of a community should be grounded in a deeper understanding of individual relationships to the landscape (the story of me), transformed into a set of shared goals and priorities (a story of now), and result in a ‘story of us’, a shared vision for the future of the landscapes (Ganz 2011, Ruggeri 2018).”
  • “Democracy is a strategy to build up the compromise as a conscious space for a possible coexistence.”
  • “Local communities are to be considered not only as principal protagonist of landscape analysis but also as the principal agents of transforming and managing landscapes.”

Landscape Convention Contribution to human rights, democracy and sustainable development (Council of Europe, 2018)

  • “People who live in the area will have a different sense of identity from others who are merely passing through, yet whatever their various perceptions, everyone has a right to landscape, even if they do not necessarily own the land in question. It is clear that the local level is the one that is most in tune with the wishes of the individuals and groups directly concerned, whereas the international level is highly dependent on processes that the general public finds it difficult to control.”

European Charter on Participatory Democracy in Spatial Planning Processes (2016)

  • “Considering the recognition and enhancement of the role played by the civil society through associations and groups of individuals, as key player and driving force in developing and sustaining a true Participatory Democracy.”

Hester, Randolph (2006) Design for Ecological Democracy

  • “Ecological democracy represents the best possible life we can achieve. Ecological democracy, then, is government by the people emphasizing direct, hands-on involvement. Actions are guided by understanding natural processes and social relationships within our locality and the larger environmental context. To achieve an effective ecological democracy, er must first create places that enable citizens to connect with neighbors in their localities.”

Wilson, Barbara (2020) Disorientation as a Learning Objective

  • „First, do no harm“ - ethic as the baseline for every action
  • Community-driven design – "practical approach to implementing theories of design justice that critique traditional participatory design as falling short of its promise of redressing inequity, and supplants a focus on process with a focus on the redistribution of decision-making power and resources"
  • "Community-engaged learning can destabilize long-held, but inaccurate assumptions; illustrate the importance of planning policies and programs focused on equitable impacts; buttress student learning about multiculturalism and structural inequalities through collaborative action."


  • LED Team (2019), Landscape Education for Democracy
  • Landscape Convention Contribution to human rights, democracy and sustainable development (Council of Europe, 2018)
  • European Charter on Participatory Democracy in Spatial Planning Processes (2016)
  • Hester, Randolph (2006) Design for Ecological Democracy
  • Wilson, Barbara (2020) Disorientation as a Learning Objective

Phase B: Democratic Landscape Analysis and Assessment

Lara Spajić and Yara Karazi Correspondence

My partner Yara and I met one day before our discussion class because we both lost our initial discussion partners. We only had one day to discuss the readings and prepare our mural for the class. We decided to chat on WhatsApp and first, we talked a bit about ourselves to get to know each other better. My partner was very friendly and kind, so I enjoyed our conversation very much. Both of us liked Design as Democracy the most so we discussed it first. We both read chapter 2, and we both liked the “Piga Picha” technique the most. Also, it was interesting for us to think about how applicable the techniques are in today’s time of global pandemic and social distancing. At the Boundaries we both did not like it because it was confusing reading for both of us. There was a lot of information and in the end, I felt overwhelmed, but I liked the concept of Service learning. Yara’s impression is that the text is misleading. In the end, we discussed Community matters. For Yara, the topic was interesting and direct to the point. For me it was interesting reading as well, I liked different definitions of community. All in all, I liked this task because I made a new friend from a different country. 😊

Antonia Čubelić and Alberto Grassetti Correspondence

My partner Alberto and I spoke exclusively through letters we sent over email. The idea came from Alberto since he was the first one to send a letter in a pdf format. The correspondence was very fun and light-hearted. The first week of correspondence was spent getting to know each other by learning about our Universities, hobbies, interests, and LED projects. In the second week, we focused more on the readings and our thoughts on it, since we found out we had a week until the presentation. We started with „Why Community matters?“, then „At the boundaries“ and finished with the second chapter of „Design as Democracy“. We mostly agreed on our thoughts and comments, and we both found it important to implement what we read in our studies and later work as professionals. The main points we both agreed on are the importance of the identity of the community and including communities in our design process. Other main points we both agreed on were the need of implementing 'service learning' and a new approach in teaching at our faculties. We saw the lack of these principles in both our cases as an architectural engineer in Italy and landscape architect in Croatia. This assignment was refreshing and rewarding, in a sense it gave me a chance to make a friend from abroad and exchange ideas with someone with different cultural and educational background from me.

Gabrijela Hercigonja and Francesca Pinotti Correspondence

Francesca and I first heard each other via email. We later resumed the conversation on Facebook. Opinions about reading were quite similar, so we agreed on everything.

Katarina Adulmar and Sara Fornaciari Correspondence

My partner Sara and I talked about landscape democracy challenges we are facing in our communities, and even though we come from different countries and are working on different locations, the problems were quite similar. We both noticed the problem of prejudice people have in a community towards one another and towards other communities. The problem lies in different cultural backgrounds and ethnicity. The people don’t seem to be able to handle on a social level these differences and they don’t recognize the landscape they live in as a place of overcoming those problems. That’s where we come in. (But in that case, we noticed another problem.) People are also skeptical towards professionals and newcomers in their communities. So, we concluded that we have to take a different approach when entering a community. Those readings in phase B, specifically chapter 3 of Design as Democracy: Techniques for collective creativity, are a good starting point in learning how to approach a community, how to include their knowledge, their opinions and thoughts in our design/planning processes. The people in the communities should be the one shaping and changing their landscape and surroundings, while we should be the ones who will educate them and encourage them on taking action in decision-making processes. It was a great experience being able to discuss this topic, share our experiences and thoughts. We both agreed we would continue this discussion with further phases and readings.

Rea Badanjak and Silvia Smolarikova Correspondence

We first get in touch via e-mail and then we exchanged cell phone number and initiated a discussion. We discussed about reading and Silvia and I mostly share a similar opinion. Also, we talk obut situations in our countries.

Lara Ćuk and Titiksha Rohit Correspondence

My partner Titiksha and I first heard from each other during the e-mail to exchange numbers and agree on further communication. We met via skype and talked about landscape democracy. Titiksha read chapter 3 and I read chapter 2 so we exchanged information.

Bruno Krehula and Kirsten Waaler Correspondence

The first time Kirsten and I got in contact was via e-mail. After exchanging couple of them, we had Zoom session where we met, introduced and discussed about ourselves, landscape situation in our country, about communities and their involvement in decision making, etc. At the end of the session, we decided to switch to messenger (FB) communication to further discuss about the assignments, readings and other, in a way that can be recorded. The interest for the communities was something we both had in common, so we decided for the reading "Community matters". Because of the lack of time we had due to obligations on faculty and job, we discussed readings two days before the presentation, and that was the period in which we exchanged our opinions and our understanding of the reading itself (which can be seen in the image below). Unfortunately, because of the duties my penpal-partner had, which forced her to stop with the project in general and quit, rest of the assignment and presentation was completed by me. Either way, I liked this task and "small talk" we had and it was refreshing to meet somebody new in this times where we are "all locked" in our homes :)

Aurora Mihatov and Marco Palma Correspondence

Me and Marco started talking trough email on daily basis. Our conversation was particularly interesting because we had different yet similar perspectives on the matter, him being a sociology student and me being a landscape architecture student. We agreed on the same goals our communities have, even though they originate from different countries. Our primary reading material was the book "Community matters - Service-Learning in Engaged Design and Planning" by Mallika Bose and others. Mainly we focused on what community actually represents, and what does it mean to have a "shared purpose" and "lived experience" in the community, through which we could create a common space for leisure and equality.

Lovro Kolarić and Israt Nishat Jahan Correspondence

Israt and I got in touch as soon as we got eachothers contacts. We met over e-mail and agreed to continue talking via WhatsApp. In the beginning, both us struggled with other issues that were at hand at the moment, outside the assignment, but eventually we started reading through the material and shared some initial thoughts. We started with the chapter INTRODUCTION At the Boundaries: The Shifting Sites of Service-Learning in Design and Planning by Tom Angotti, Cheryl Doble and Paula Horrigan. We agreed on certain quotes from the reading and also discussed (lack of) our own experiences with projects which included communinties. Also, we talked a bit about the Chapter 2 of Design as Democracy, we pointed out some techniques that stuck with us and tried to tackle some possible challenges that may come with them. All in all, we had interesting conversations, however, personally, I found the difference in time zones somewhat problematic because it made the flow of conversation and thoughts difficult to keep. But it definitely helped having a partner to go over the readings and opened some new views through our partner's thoughts.

Phase C: Collaborative Visioning and Goal Setting

The Scene in Our Story of Visioning

We formulated our challenge through this question: How to connect different community groups and encourage them to take more action in decision-making processes regarding their surroundings?

Meet professor Balthazar. He is a brilliant mind from the Balthazartown where he often helps his fellow citizens with many different problems. Since he is always able to find an answer, we decided to consult him about our challenge and this what we came up with.

We set our challenge by asking these 5W questions. By asking who we determined the actors that shape the space. With the question what, we tried defining problems we noticed through surveys and observations like the lack of connection between the neighbourhoods and lack of common green spaces. For instance, the communities in the neighbourhood Novi Jelkovec feel like they are living on a separated island, separated from the rest of Sesvete. As for when, the problems began with immigration of new residents in the area of Sesvete starting with industrialization and building of new apartments, continued with refugees from Homeland War. In the present, a new wave of immigration of young families is present due to proximity to Zagreb and cheaper real estate. Each one of these waves brought different cultures that never connected. These trends and challenges can be seen in the neighbourhoods of Sesvete (Novi Jelkovec, Sopnica, Staro Brestje, Luka, Mala Bosna). All of these factors mentioned before resulted in a fragmented space and society that lacks a unifying factor. Because of this reason, Sesvete cannot reach its full potential in development. At this moment, the Vuger Valley is comprised of unused green spaces and acts as a barrier rather than a connection between neighbourhoods in Sesvete.

The Actors

For our actors we set out to find a spectrum of people which would represent the communities we defined in earlier work. We decided to introduce walking interviews as a means of learning their views and reflections regarding their communities and general Vuger stream area. So far we managed to conduct only three such interviews, however, we intend to continue conducting them as a part of our project. After we gathered all interviews, we thought of a diagram that would comprise all our actors stories but in a somewhat controlled form; each slice would represent one person’s story shown as a map of the walk organised in concentric circles, each forming a different theme. By finding the circles on which people’s maps or stories collide, we could find their common interests.

The Story of Visioning

The first and most important thing when we formulate a goal is to include the communities and the people within them in the process of goal-setting. We base our goal on the knowledge and findings we gained from the site and from our continuous learning process. It is also crucial to include people’s opinion in order to gain a much better perspective in the specifics of a site, community and it’s problems. So, a vision needs to be achievable, relevant, precise, well structured, time-based and identifiable.

Process of Goal Setting

Professor Balthazar’s take on problem-solving is constructing a powerful machine in which he would add certain ingredients. He would start his machine which would then put out a solution to their problem. Unfortunately, we lack professor’s knowledge of building such machines, so we had to find a different method. The first step was defining the main challenge our group intends to solve. Great help in defining the challenge were our conclusions from field work and survey regarding the quality of open public spaces in Sesvete. Each group member defined their individual goals. In that way, everyone could express their opinion without being influenced by others. The next step was brainstorming and discussing all the individual goals together and later we combined all of the individual goals to these 4 main goals on the slide. After voting we came to the conclusion that the most important goals we want to focus on are goals 1 and 4.

Goal 1 Promote Vuger stream as a green public space with residence zones which will function as places of connection of different community groups.

Goal 2 define new Communications between Vuger and surrounding neighbourhoods.

Goal 3 Organising fairs, games and exhibitions that promote unity of communities.

Goal 4 Organising workshops with NGO-s and local communities for the purpose of educating, informing the public regarding the questions of environmental and social problems.

One stream to connect us all.

During our vision making process, Vuger Valley was taken as the key element of all social gatherings and events, through which the communities would ideally come together. The valley represents a link to all neighbourhoods along with the green areas surrounding them, but it’s currently interpreted more as barrier rather than a connection. By insuring a common ground for leisure and interaction created by listening to residents needs and wishes it can serve as an area for expression and voicing opinions in form of exhibitions, workshops and other types of gatherings. In short, Vuger is a symbol of possibilities, change, equality and union, because Vuger is more than just a stream, and social groups are more than their stereotypes. It seems naive to suggest such a simple way for equality among all, but education and changing people’s perspectives is the first step towards change. This is a local solution to a global problem.

Goal to Action

Our main goal is to promote Vuger stream as a green public space with residence zones which will function as places of connection of different community groups and education about their involvement in decision-making processes. We can accomplish this goal through organising workshops with NGO-s and local communities for the purpose of educating and informing the public regarding the questions of environmental and social problems. Next step is to engage with the community by taking more precise actions that would evolve green public spaces. These actions can be small, such as planting trees, cleaning the garbage around your neighbourhood, engaging in a community garden, recycling and volunteering. One of good actions that always encourages people to get more involved are festivals. People love to participate in all kinds of interactive events, and this can be a good starting point in working on social interaction, communication, realising big community projects through promotion.

Action Plan

The action plan would start with the initiative of a festival. This festival combines different steps and actions that would lead to achieving our main goal. The festival would be called fo(u)r-bench because of the four broken benches that we came across in the green corridor of Vuger, being the only place where people can rest. So to begin with our plan, we would establish a living lab. The community, alongside with experts, would design a better green space along the stream. This could start with planting trees, organising design&build workshops where the community could build their own outdoor equipment, work on an urban garden, take care of the plants. It could all lead to a final part, a fair where the communities could celebrate together their accomplishment and even promote themselves on a local, regional and international level. The next phase could focus on bigger projects, such as revitalising parts of the corridor of Vuger stream and it can involve different stakeholders and developers. Along with the bigger projects, as the first phase developed, communities could organise a fair where they could exchange and sell the products from their gardens, share their experiences and also have fun. In the last year we will work on further education for the purpose of encouraging the communities to continue on their own with the activities even after the festival finishes. A part of the living lab project would be landscape laboratory, a website we are launching soon which serves as a way of communicating with the communities and keeping them up to date with different articles, workshops and similar events.


The goals that we set as the most important for improving the living experience of our community are mainly based on our experience we gathered during field work and by using nominal group technique within our work group. However, the actual goals of our community can still vary and differ so we are leaving an open space for any changes and further analysis of both our goals as well as theirs. We are interested in learning how the people we took on our walking interviews will visualize the possibilities for making their living space better, and thus heightening the general living standards in the area.

Phase D: Collaborative Design, Transformation and Planning

Sesvete fair has a long tradition dating back to mid 15th century. It’s a famous gathering point for sesvete folk and beyond. So we decided that that would be a great place to test our prototype. We would have a booth on Sesvete fair where we could gather a decent amount of people since it is always very crowded. We would organise questionaries or smaller lectures, the people could exchange goods (for instance plants). Most importantly, we would get to talk with as many people and pick their brains a bit about their thoughts, feelings or needs regarding the area they live in. We wanted to see how would people react as well as how would we behave among people.

Our Prototyping Action - Sunday Evening Chatting

On our Mural, we were brainstorming possible prototypes. So with this idea of a fair in Sesvete, we would start by organising a booth where we could host a quiz about plants, gardening or the environment, and afterwards the participants would receive small rewards for their participation. The second idea was organising children’s play, the theme of the play will also involve plants and gardening, climate change, or water bodies - especially Vuger stream. The third idea was to provide blank panels on this booth where we want to encourage discussion and give people the possibility to share their memories, experiences, problems, and needs regarding Sesvete and their communities. However. Since the fair takes place weekly every thursday, we weren’t able to prepare for the last week and this week’s fair comes tomorrow. We had to find an alternative. After discussing all three prototypes we chose the third idea, panels where people could write their memories and experiences of Sesvete, we decided to call our prototype “Sunday evening chatting”.

The Evolution of Our Prototyping Action

How did we make it? We decided to contact the pastor of the All Saints parish and asked if we could have our “booth” near the church after the sunday evening service which he was happy to approve. There were three of us at the booth, a friend outside of our team offered to take photos, and our mentor, Monika, provided us with the needed materials.

We based our testing event on having people write down their thoughts and impressions of the space they use and live in on two whiteboards. That gave us different notions ranging from positive remarks to certain problems and needs. Although we indicated the need to interconnect different social groups as our goal, to an extent, the sense of community is present. We also learned of some overlaps between our design idea and what people state they would want to see. Things such as the lack of public green areas, playgrounds or cultural contents. Among other things that aren’t directly tied to our design, dense traffic is mentioned as one of the main sources of headaches for the residents of Sesvete.

The Realization of Our Prototyping Action

This is the moment when we set up the board and started talking to people - which was immediately followed by writing down impressions and pointing out certain things on the board. From our testing, we learned that people want to hang out. They would like more festivals and manifestations to take place in the center of Sesvete so they don’t need to go to Zagreb city center for events. Their reactions to this event were very positive. Also, some of the problems are bad infrastructure (especially bicycle infrastructure), lack of children playgrounds, and quality public green spaces. We would focus on these topics and information which people suggested during our conversations.


The process was interesting and dynamic. Cooperation with people was at a high level and we generally had a positive response. Many problems and advantages have been listed and many areas for progress have been identified. We think that there is room for progress, especially when the inhabitants of Sesvete are interested in working for betterment. To conclude, this event "bore fruit". People participated in the project with their ideas, visions, pointing out problems, etc., simultaneously showing interest in the space in which they live and reside. This event was a great opportunity to introduce people to our project while involving all age groups in the process. Finally, this will be a valuable experience to have when implementing our action.

Phase E: Collaborative Evaluation and Future Agendas

Collaborative Evaluation and Landscape Democracy Reflection

We haven’t managed to conduct proper collaborative process, instead this will be about our visioning of such process and how would we go about conducting it.

We would once again like to introduce our main landscape democracy challenge which is the lack of connection between different community groups in the Sesvete district. The locals are certain in what they need and want in their district and but lack the right initiative, as well as a proper involvement in the decision-making process that would actually be accounted for in the overall design of their surroundings. They are taken as a secondary party in the overall process instead of being taken as primary users of the space and therefore one of the most important participants. The primary issue here is figuring out how to accomodate to said group and correct such disbalance while making sure to provide the right encouragement, support and motivation that communities lack in order to take their stance.

The Actors in Our Collaborative Evaluation

So, who do we designate as our actors involved in the monitoring and evaluation process? First of all we have our community since they are at the core of this process. By representing their own needs and ideas, they can intervene and help guide the direction of the process. Then we would have members of the local government who hold the power of decision making but also have the know-how on legal framework and procedures. Further, there would be local NGO members with their synthesis of local and expert knowledge. Finally, there’s us as the design team. We have an overview of the whole process and we can reflect on specific segments of the process within the big picture.

The whole process could happen in different forms, be it online (via our pending Landscape laboratory website) or offline (in person at the NGO HQ, local council hall, educational institutions or in the field).

The Process of Monitoring

How we collected monitoring data - Our primary source of data would be our website, Landscape laboratory. However, the main downside is the fact that we’re excluding all those without internet access. So, to counter that, additional fieldwork ways of data collection should be implemented, e. g. conducting workshops, interviews, surveys, field observations, collecting feedbacks.

How we evaluated the process together with the community? After the data collection process, we would sum up and publish the results both online (via our website) and offline (through a workshop). The results would be open for discussion and the feedback would be taken into account when we improve our design.

Evaluation of the Results

In the evaluation process our output is the sunday evening chatting in front of All Saints Church in Sesvete while the desired outcome is social interaction, connectivity, involvement and gread feedback. The indicators we would use in further research would be the number of people involved, number of meetings held and percentage of feedbacks received. We expect lack of participation due to lack of motivation as an estimated result, but of course ideally it would be good feedback from the residents. The collaboration here lies on our transparency, availability to discuss and give any information to inquiries the residents may have at any point. It worked out very well so far and we got positive support, even thankfulness for our work, but we assume not all locals will share the same spirit. That’s where we have to step in and find a way to reach out to them to eventually speak their mind and get the open space they deserve.

How the Lessons will affect the Process

One of the lessons that we learned here was that the lack of communication between the communities and local councils as a first link of the local government chain wasn’t stressed enough at first. Therefore it would be highly beneficial to hold monthly or fortnightly meetings out in the open where the council and the residents can come together, share thoughts, ideas and possible solutions as well as discuss previous work that has (not) been done. Crucial participants would be members of the local council, the electorate/the residents and members of the design team as mediators/moderators. The council could contribute with knowledge of legal framework and procedures, resources from the residents could be their familiarity on the topics regarding the space that they use while the design team could provide tools to document (audio/video/notes) and enhance the experience (provide expert knowledge, perhaps share examples of existing, proven designs). The main indicators of success would therefore be the number of people attending, frequency of the meetings, questionnaires about the expectations from the meetings before and after and an overall amount of feedback.

Reflection on the Online Seminar

As a final conclusion here we have gathered individual opinions about our progress and the project overall. All team members share the impression of just how much the community means to designing open (or any other) space, but the real surprise was realising how close these two are actually aligned, or at least should be. All of us experienced different difficulties along the way but one of the biggest ones so far was understanding how the community actually perceives the targeted space (Vuger Valley) and what truly accommodates their needs, not just what we guessed would work. We agree that there is a certain lack of “out of the norm” thinking in this sense that we miss in our education system and journey, but the Lead2Leap project made us look in the right direction and ultimately get to new conclusions ourselves which is a massive step forward.

Reflection on the Living Lab Process

We have this vision of making Vuger stream a place of connection between different local communities. This vision came forth after establishing various problems in the spatial characteristics of Sesvete - lack of green public spaces, railway corridor that enables easier north-south connection, dense traffic and non-adequate infrastructure. We also consider that there is a certain animosity between the communities. So, to check if our thesis are correct, we had to include the local communities in our visioning process and prototyping. We began to communicate with them by performing a sort of interview where we would go together for a walk and they would share their memories, thoughts, troubles… It was the first step of gaining a clearer insight into the people of Sesvete. The next participation formed itself as an open discussion on a Sunday evening after the service in All Saints Parish. We gave the people the opportunity to express their thoughts and opinions about their life in Sesvete. Some of the problems they noted do match ours and those are mostly the spatial problems. They also seem to want more cultural activities happening in their neighbourhoods. However, they do not think that there is such animosity between the communities. They feel connected, mostly within them and with their neighbours but they don’t seem to have a negative attitude towards other communities. We consider our first thought of the lack of connectivity to be a positive mistake. Despite that, they need more activities, more reasons to come to work together, socialise, share memories, talk, play, etc.

Our Living Lab Code of Conduct

First, do no harm. Everything we do, we have to do it for the benefit of others, the benefit of society, nature and all its stakeholders. In the design/planning process we have to include opinions, thoughts and ideas of the local communities. We have to find a simple language understandable to all the actors participating in the process. The data and information we gathere have to be accessible and transparent to everybody. We have to listen, cooperate and communicate with all the stakeholders (as well as they with us) in order to accomplish a resilient and sustainable approach to design/planning processes.

Process Reflection

This whole process was an amazing experience for all of us! We learned so much and we are very excited to share our knowledge further.