elii [oficina de arquitectura]


084 · technologies of the public sPACES

Europan Competition, Zagreb, Croacia



Equipment for the public enjoyment of the banks of the river Sava

Let’s imagine a set of interactive technologies that give us the chance to speculate experiment with public spaces, opening them up to the potential for unsuspected situations. 

'Technologies of the public (spaces)' is an ensemble of devices that create liveable spaces that can be endlessly and untiringly explored and re-imaged, refusing the strictures of permanent and stabilised programmes. The proposal emerges as a powerful city-making machine in which it is possible to explore, speculate, imagine and test other ways of sharing the city, other political ecologies, other urban metabolisms, other forms of building communities, other forms of establishing material and emotional attachments, other forms of experimenting with the urban, other forms of political participation.

The project is based on a dual strategy:

A) Landscape strategy. Structuring of the various sites along the river, integrating the plots into the existing urban fabric and into the future urban developments that are projected for the area. An ensemble of paths, bicycle lanes, leisure and sport areas along the banks of the Sava will grant Zagreb a new horizon.

B) 1:1 strategy. The activation of the sites will follow the strategic implementation of a series of urban devices. Urban furniture, light infrastructures, citizen devices, ephemeral and temporary constructions, etc., will activate the areas, enabling different modalities of use of the public areas. These lightweight technology interventions generate new relations with the open spaces by enlarging the number of actors, environments, citizens, institutions, spaces, materials, etc., that constitute Zagreb's public space.

This catalogue of small interventions will equip the sites with lightweight technologies that remain at the citizens’ disposal. 

The intervention aims to rethink the political ecology of Zagreb’s urban public spaces by enabling the effective incorporation and participation of natural and infrastructural elements as active actors in the public and political life of the community, through the implementation of 5 main guidelines: 

· 1-Technifying the public (spaces) > Energy as a public matter

· 2-Equipping the public (spaces) > Infrastructures as a social matter

· 3-Metabolising the public (spaces)> Caring for the environment

· 4-Publicising the technical (matters) > Making the invisible visible 

· 5-Indoor public space > Lightweight construction at the citizens’ disposal

The integration and articulation of nature, culture and infrastructure into new hybrid neighbourhoods will shape an intense urban ecosystem and will enrich the notion of public spaces.


1. Technifying the public (spaces). A series of lightweight devices allow public spaces to participate in urban power generation processes. The purpose of these devices is to revert the parasitic relationship that has traditionally defined public spaces as mere passive consumers of infrastructural resources and to turn them into ‘productive agents’ that actively participate in the infrastructural fabric of the city. Public spaces are not ‘empty’. Public spaces are another limb in the body of the cyborg-city.

Energy as a public material. Energy is a public space.

2. Equipying the public (spaces)This catalogue of small interventions proposes a radical transfiguration of public spaces, based on appropriation systems, capable of transforming empty plots into spaces for the cultural and political intervention of the neighbourhood. This is achieved by ‘furnishing’ the plots with urban devices and infrastructures that allow myriad configurations, thus opening up the possibility of unplanned uses. A space of possibilities to imagine/build urban communities.

Infrastructures as social matter. If it can be appropriated, it is a public space.

3. Metabolising the public (spaces). The combined action of several landscaping actions and technological devices turns public spaces into ‘ecological agents’ that actively contribute to the urban metabolism of Zagreb. The combination of different technical layers and ‘natural’ species that populate the sites as hybrids generate active and comfortable microenvironments for social and economic activities, both currently and in the future.

Taking care of the environment. Urban metabolism is a public space.

4. Publicizing the technical (matters). The technification of public spaces runs in parallel with the symmetrical publicising of processes. This means that structures in public spaces become visible and are transformed into material worthy of public attention, into elements that are open to scrutiny, discussion and public responsibility. It becomes essential to rethink the relationship between citizens and infrastructures. Public spaces shall be designed as an interface of these socio-eco-logics, making the invisible visible.

Deblackboxing as a common attention material. An interface is a public space.

5. Indoor public space. A series of lightweight structures are distributed throughout the plots. Some are used as support services for the paths and the lanes that run parallel to the river. Others, shaped like small pavilions, are available for social and economic activities, be it existing ones or those in support of future activities. Indoor public spaces may be booked online for temporary activities. They shall be used as multifunctional complementary spaces for specific events.

Lightweight structures at the citizens’ disposal. Indoor spaces = Public spaces.

  • Architects:
  • elii - Uriel Fogué + Eva Gil + Carlos Palacios
  • Project-coordinating architect:
  • elii - Ana López
  • Team:
  • elii - Claire Laborde + Federica Calio
  • Competition:
  • Europan
  • Area:
  • 1.5 ha / 4.5 ha / 5.8 ha / 16 ha
  • Date:
  • 2015
  • Lotation:
  • Zagreb, Croacia