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Balance, sense of community are crucial for cities of the future

Ljubljana, 27 May – For cities of the future to be green and citizen-friendly, construction and activities need to be condensed, there must be a balance between development and environment protection, while new technologies and approaches should be used to build the sense of community, heard participants of a business breakfast hosted by AmCham on Friday.

Cities are cradles of development, and just as a baby in a cradle needs to be nurtured so do the cities, said Miran Gajšek, long-term chief urbanist at the Ljubljana municipality. When nurturing a city, a balance needs to be found between its economic development, environment and other aspects such as social justness, he said.

The founder of architecture firm Ofis Arhitekti, Špela Videčnik, sees cities as centres of beauty, creativity and knowledge. She believes in the future cities need to be as concentrated and condensed as possible to have as low carbon imprint as possible. She believes this could be achieved with the use of new technologies.

The goal is to reduce car traffic, and new technologies will enable this, as less mobility will be needed. Thus, there will be more room for green areas, where natural ecosystems will be able to develop, and for residential areas.

Videčnik is convinced the Covid crisis will have a big impact on urbanism of the cities. Many people still work from home at least partly, which reduces the need for commuting. But the need for socialising and leisure activities will remain, which is why short distances are important.

In cities such as Ljubljana, which already have many green areas, these areas need to be preserved and new introduced wherever possible, both horizontally and vertically, meaning at buildings.

Lovro Peterlin from telecommunication operator A1 thinks that now that working from home has become common place there will be no need for big cities, so suburbs and rural areas will become important.

Connectivity of devices will become even more crucial. The data collection in the process on the one hand entails risks and on the other creates opportunities for monitoring trends and planing city life better, he said.

The Austrian group A1 has developed several solutions for better managing of cities. In Austria, cities use its platforms to improve waste management, while in Maribor its artificial intelligence solution for better road maintenance is used.

Michal Maco, the head of the Slovenian branch of the Slovakian real estate investor Corwin, which is building the Kvartet housing complex in Ljubljana and is to build a sustainable business building Vilharia near the main railway station said that Ljubljana with its quality of life and urban solutions could serve as a role model to Baratislava, where despite rapid development, traffic, basic infrastructure and green areas are still a problem.

This is why his company sees a lot of potential in Ljubljana. The costs of building sustainable buildings are at least 10% higher but later the operative costs are lower and the working environment is healthier and more encouraging, which raises productivity and reduces costs related to sick leaves, he said.

Gajšek presented some very specific aspects of Ljubljana’s green development. He said trams would only be profitable if they were included in the development of regional railway transport for the entire Ljubljana area.

He said additional cycling paths would be created and stressed the importance of the sense of community for encouraging cycling and many other aspects of urban living.


Source: STA