Maribor EPK 2012, Drava River Contest

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Maribor River Embankement, Slovenia

Slovenian Project design by Jastudio with Tadj-Farzin Studio

20 Apr 2010

Drava River Embankment

Maribor, Slovenia -EPK 2012-Competition
European capital of culture-2012

A Jastudio Work in collaboration with Tadj-Farzin Studio

Maribor EPK 2012, Drava River Embankment Competition

Key Concepts

Controlled flexibility

The design proposal tries to find design strategies that can create a balance between an undifferentiated and flexible landscape on one hand and a zoned landscape on the other. The design proposal attempts to treat the whole river embankment as one vibrant urban surface that is minimally touched to suggest nodes of activity and paths of circulation without dictating a rigid framework for any of the two.

The nodes of activities are marked by slightly pinching up the urban surface to create a sense of territory and limit to guide the congregation of public in peak use time. The paths of circulation would vary from the whole width of the promenade on the low traffic days to the paths secured by the pinches on the perimeter of nodes of activities during the busy Lent festival.

The dynamic relationship between zones of activity and paths of travel can divide the urban surface in a subtle but functional way.

Maribor EPK Drava River Embankment Maribor Drava River Embankment
Drava River Embankment Maribor EPK Development images from Jastudio, Architects

Water as the urban and ecological protagonist

Drava is the backbone of the Maribor. The proposal engages Drava to be the protagonist of  the urban and ecological scene. The interface of water and people extends beyond the river line in this scheme.

The water of Drava would be channeled underneath the surface and appear in variety of forms and locations across the promenade. The array of these water bodies will all be connected to the river and vary in size with water level changes of Drava during different seasons and create a dynamic and seasonal landscape.

The 5% slope of ground under the water ponds would result in a 10 meter variation in diameter of water ponds during different seasons (resulting from annual 0.5m water level change of Drava). The diverse ecologies that appears from such dynamic ecosystems extends the notion of sustainability beyond the concept of saving nature and accepts modes of human interference in nature that can diversify the existing ecologies, thus making it healthier and more resilient.

Each water node can be strategically maintained and curated to not only extend existing ecologies of Drava ecosystem but also by being introduced new compatible species each node can have a different ecological flavor. Water activities during Lent festival would gradually tend to relate and correspond to the flavor of each water node.

Maribor Art Gallery Maribor Art Gallery Maribor Art Gallery Maribor Art Gallery
Drava River Embankment Maribor EPK Development images from Jastudio, Architects

Problem solving and design strategies


In the absence of motorized traffic, the connectivity of the active urban zones like the Main square (Glavni Trg) to the Lent embankment becomes critical. The level differences between the active urban nodes and the river embankments will be connected by a series of playful ramps that tie the nodes at different levels.

For example; the level difference between the Lent embankment and the main bridge is connected with the introduction of a zigzag ramp from the east side of the Main bridge through the bridge’s stone pillars down to the start of the new foot bridge small commercial activities like flower shop or newspaper stand.

Slow sand filtration

For water activities that engage human interaction and direct usage of Drava’s water is not advisable, a slow sand filtration reservoir is introduces on the site to gradually filter and mremediate the water of Drava and channel to the water nodes that engage interaction of people and water.

Maribor Art Gallery Maribor Art Gallery
Drava River Embankment Maribor EPK Development images from Jastudio, Architects

The urban furniture

Instead of modernists tradition of looking at nature and abolishing its figure into abstract buildable geometries, we propose the idea of learning from nature in its entirety; functional, structural and ultimately figurative lessons, relying on the new technologies for fabrication and realization of these lessons. The Umbrelite is a clear example of the proposed design approach towards urban furniture for Lent Tabor embankment.

The umbrelite would function both as an umbrella for daytime and a pedestrian light at night. The voronoi structure of the umbrellite would both support the weight of the umbrellite and be also glowing at night with a series of LED strips backlighting the membrane of the umbrellite. The membrane of the umbrella would act the light diffuse at night and during daytime would provide shaded areas across the promenade.

Maribor EPK Development images / information from Jastudio, Architects

Location: Maribor, Slovenia, central eastern Europe

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