”The Hanging Gardens of Bratislava” Project
Concepts for shaping the public greenery in Bratislava emerged already in a distant history of the city. The Janko Kráľ Orchard, originally named Aupark, lying on the right bank of the Danube, was created in 1775 to become the first public park in Central Europe. The second important park area in the city, the Mountain Park, was created in the 19th century. Apart from these two parks, the city also had a number of smaller gardens, particularly private ones, which were located near the palaces of nobles and which have maintained their popularity among the citizens of Bratislava until today. The dynamic development of the capital city of the independent Slovak Republic (existing since 1993), however, increased the need for creating new larger public park areas offering a place for relaxation to the city's inhabitants. This was one of the reasons why the capital city started to work on a new public park called Draždiak, located in the city district of Petržalka; and currently starts its new project called "The Hanging Gardens of Bratislava“.
The ambition of the project to build terrace gardens above Bratislava is to materialise both the most recent and the well-proven principles of creating areas for everyday relaxation of the capital's citizens and visitors. The project’s target group is the general public; the multi-generation park should become a place for the people to meet and to spend their time embraced by nature. The area might also include roofed gardens with green areas accessible also during the winter or in bad weather; this would provide an alternative to the current frequent practice of spending leisure time in large shopping and entertainment centres. The inspiration for the new representative relaxation zone with a wealth of opportunities for cultural and social life can come from many sources across the world, including the Villa Borghese gardens of Rome, the Park Güell in Barcelona by Gaudi, the Dublin Phoenix Park, Schönbrunn in Vienna or the reconstructed old gardens of the Prague Castle.
Despite the existing rather dense development, Bratislava still offers several locations suitable for project implementation. An ideal location for the project would be the sunny slopes above the city, designed as large garden terraces offering views of Bratislava and the surrounding landscape - for example on the border between the (currently frequently abandoned) vineyards and the surrounding forests. As the city’s forests would lie in the hinterland of the terrace gardens, the largest public park in Slovakia could be formed in Bratislava. Another ambition of the project is to preserve for future generations at least a part of the original vineyards of Bratislava, which are no longer protected by law since 2009, and so it is possible that they will completely disappear under new development. Social inclusion has been an inseparable part of the project from its very beginning with the ambition to preserve access to the lucrative locations above the city for the general public.
The city intends to finance the project partly from public sources; it is however, assumed that private capital would participate in a significant extent based on the principle of corporate responsibility of those companies, which care about the quality of life of their employees, families and clients or citizens of the city, in which they operate. Another very important aspect of project financing will be investments into works of art. Large companies, which already have their own collections of works of art, will be given the possibility to present those collections in galleries and museums accessible to the public in the Hanging Gardens of Bratislava. Volunteering and sponsorship (with both cash and in kind contributions) could also be used for the project. There is also a number of city organisations and institutions in Bratislava, whose potential could significantly help to make the new large park in the city reality (City Forests, ZOO, Sports and Recreation Facilities Administration of Bratislava, General Investor of Bratislava, Museum of Bratislava, Gallery of Bratislava, City Library, Bratislava Cultural and Information Centre, City Monument Preservation Authority, Paming and others).
First Steps in Preparation of the Project
The project is in its initial preparatory stage. The first atelier works on the topic of the Hanging Gardens of Bratislava have already been created at the Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava, at the Slovak Agricultural University in Nitra and at the College of Visual Arts in Bratislava. The public can see those works on an exhibition in the Primate’s Palace from 20 January till 5 February 2010. The partnership between the city and the academic world brings different interesting views and visions into the project. The exhibition of students’ works will be accompanied by a discussion between professionals. During the whole project, it is expected that the public will be able to submit its comments.
The Hanging Gardens of Bratislava is a unique project, which deserves broader and not just local attention, participation and cooperation. The ambition of the project therefore is to forge broader partnerships, which will allow evaluating the vision of new public gardens in the city and their successful implementation. In 2010, the city plans to work on the planning documentation and define more precisely the possible partnerships in the project. The philosophy of the project will be defined along with the project's location and the time frame for creating a new viable zone of greenery, culture and relaxation in Bratislava in the coming years. The capital city already cooperates with several universities; for the future, a broader participation of the city’s institutions and organisations, the creation of a consortium of companies with the common objective to implement the project of the Hanging Gardens of Bratislava, as well as international exchange of experience between large cities from projects of similar scope and importance are planned.