The Bežigrad Central stadium Of Ljubljana
Nika van Berkel

The Central Stadium in Ljubljana, located in the district of Bežigrad, was built in the period between 1923 and 1953. In the first phase after its completion, it was mainly used by the Roman Catholic youth sports association Orel as well as for rallies and fire drills. Later on, the stadium took on the role of a venue for sporting and cultural events. Since 2008 the entire area of the stadium has been closed to the public and left to decay. The degraded and unused space is in need of a fresh programme, infrastructure and landscape.


Ljubljana is a green city with several parks located also in its central area. Each of them offers its own programme. A new city park outside of the core city center would introduce an upgrade of the wider city area and help establish its identity as a place of social interaction and as a green atrium of the city of Ljubljana.


The revitalisation project of the Central Stadium involves a new programme, which – together with discretely placed new volumes and greening – forms the dynamic landscape of a new city park. Recreational areas meet the needs of different users. The central stadium functions as a green atrium of the city. Its diverse program attracts visitors and guarantees continuous use, which is a key characteristic of open spaces in cities. Existing biuldings are used to support the programme – the management, restroom, restaurant – making sure the space is functioning smoothly.


The revival of the new city park strictly follows the legacy of its architect Jože Plečnik and his principles on the design of open spaces. Structures, which are inadequate in architectural or programmatical terms, are to be removed. New interventions involve a city beach with a swimming pool, a big and small event stage, an outdoor coffee house pertaining to the restaurant, sports areas for volleyball, chess, bocce, table tennis and a children’s playground in the arena by the grandstands. Picnic spaces, hammocks and benches where one can relax amidst the greenery are located in the center of the arena. All additional spaces that the programmes need are built into the ground and blend in with the landscape of the park.


An important component of the project is green vegetation, which becomes the main building element of space. Only indigenous Slovene plants are chosen, which additionally contributes to the development of the main theme of the park. Tall and low green vegetation designed in a non-formal way is partially placed in the area of the arena, creating a dynamic landscape. The upper running trail leads around the arena amidst low vegetation and bushes.