While a growing number of cities continue on their journey to a more sustainable future, the repurposing of obsolete industrial land or underused infrastructure in or near urban centres is increasingly on the agenda.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has identified opportunities for the urban regeneration of multiple locations on Croatia’s Adriatic coastline.
With the support of the Austrian government, the Urban Regeneration and Environment Fund (CREATE) has been established to support cities in the EBRD region to explore urban regeneration opportunities in the identified locations.
Together with the EBRD and in cooperation with municipal and regional authorities, Arup has developed the urban regeneration plan for Batižele in the city of Šibenik, Croatia. The scope of the project is an area of approximately 28 hectares of originally industrial land adjacent to the city centre of Šibenik, a UNESCO heritage site. After a major environmental remediation process, the land, which until 1994 belonged to a metallurgical production site, is ready for a new lease of life.
With this plan, Batižele will be a space for all, designed with people in mind, with a multi-generational approach that will make it comfortable for the elderly, safe for children and attractive for young people. Residents and visitors can meet and a vibrant space where educational, cultural, professional, and sporting activities will be scheduled throughout the year.
A development sensitive to the local context
The proposed masterplan bases its approach on public space, with the creation of a valuable central spine of green areas and public spaces on the waterfront that structure the development and reconnect the city with the natural areas to the north of the city. With responsible land use and local values considered, density is concentrated in some areas helping to optimise investment in service infrastructure and mobility networks.
The highest density is found around the extension of the promenade, giving continuity to the entire historic front of Šibenik. This density is integrated towards the hills and natural areas and towards the urban fabric of single-family houses adjacent to the site, passing through medium-density residential areas and ending with low-density residential areas. The proposed building intensities and urban layout allow for adequate volume and a varied range of housing typologies to encourage a balanced, cohesive, and diverse mix of social groups.
This area is also the one with the greatest mix of uses, including residential uses, three new hotels, a car park building, and commercial premises on the street level to breathe new life into the surrounding public spaces. At its heart will be the innovative Adriatic Culinary Centre, promoting the region’s top-quality cuisine. The Batižele Park is the central focus of the project, intertwining the pre-existing urban fabric with the different areas of Batižele and reconnecting it with the protected natural spaces on the outskirts of the city through an uninterrupted pedestrian route.
The educational and cultural facilities are integrated into the residential areas and connected to the neighbouring districts. In addition, a high-profile hospital will be located on the waterfront, addressing the needs of residents and visitors to the city.
Urban sustainability: green spaces and active mobility
The regeneration of Batižele responds to a long-term vision of sustainable urban development, understanding sustainability as a holistic concept of three pillars: economic, social and environmental. Not only will the new development be economically viable, but it will also deliver socially and environmentally sustainable outcomes in line with Šibenik's vision.
The new development will contribute to the collective well-being of Šibenik by proposing a network of green areas and public spaces, promoting access and reconnecting the city with its green and blue infrastructure assets. The mobility strategy has been shaped to prioritise pedestrian and cycling mobility and enable the development of an urban area that offers safe spaces to promote not only sustainable, but also healthy and active mobility.
The city’s public space along the waterfront will be enhanced by an expansion of the area and the extension of Banj beach. This course will connect to a network of green areas arranged around the new development, also connecting the city with natural areas, hiking and cycling routes. The proposed green areas will become places of relaxation, integrating natural beauty into urban life, contributing to better air quality and a healthier lifestyle for residents.
Low carbon design
With the aim of promoting low-carbon development, the project has a responsible energy and materials strategy. Its low-carbon energy model is based on a three-step strategy: designing bioclimatic strategies as design drivers, maximising the efficiency of urban infrastructure and buildings, and integrating renewable energy generation.
The new urban development will be a model of adaptation to the urban climate and responsible consumption of natural resources: land, energy, water and materials. Furthermore, all the environmental sustainability strategies proposed will generate positive social and economic impacts to improve the competitiveness and well-being of the city.