EUROPE SQUARE, ECOC 2025
Team: Bene Wahlbrink, Eugenio Cappuccio
Partner Office: l'atelier Nomadic Architecture Studio
Location: IT/SL Nova Gorica
The Respiring Border
An analysis of the region’s geography shows that natural boundaries have had a much larger impact in defining the urban growth of the two cities than that of the administrative ones. The enclosures outlined by the topography of the valley, the flow of the river Soca and the infrastructural edge of the railway have shaped and conditioned this growth, with the border between the two countries adding another layer of complexity to the condition.
The concept here acquires a double meaning; on one hand it acts as a dividing element, whilst on the other as a facilitator for permeability and interaction. The territorial intervention therefore looks to draw upon this dichotomy to stitch back together the existing fabric that has been formed by topography and urbanity together. Rather than attempting to over-design and specify the whole zone, the scheme imagines a series of interventions within spaces along the frontier that already demonstrate potential. This area is not seen as one space, but as a sequence of spaces. The thread that sews them together is the bicycle route that weaves through and connects the different zones.
Spatialising the Border
Europe Square / Dissolving the Line
The new square forms a part of the succession of spaces along the park. It takes the form of an expansive carpet of tiles that floods all the way east to the platform edge, incorporating the current train station building upon its surface. The EpiCentre is divided into two buildings, and along with the station they frame an empty, central piazza that can be used for various events of cultural importance, such as the Global Folklore Festival, Gusti di Frontiera or eStoria. The linear and uniform nature of the tiles chosen blurs the current separating line between the countries, further emphasising the notion of the border as a dilating space. On this carpet, specific lines are accentuated that activate and interact with spaces and objects on the square, such as the administrative border, the bicycle lane, the footpath, lighting and benches.
The main intervention within this territorial plan is the inclusion of a linear park that runs from north to south from the beginning of Kolodvorska pot to where it flanks Via Caterina Percoto. The scale of the green space is relative to the scale of the city, acting as a new urban park for both the Italian and Slovenian inhabitants. The park incorporates a series of activities that are related to local production, culture and leisure. The Europe Square is forming a part of this sequence of spaces.
Europe Square - Transition
The EpiCentre’s physical relationship to the existing train station building is an important factor in defining a collective identity for Europe Square. There is a dialogue between the three buildings’ facades that ties the new cultural centre to the local vernacular.
The cultural centre is divided into two main programmes. The ‘Pavilion’ extends to the north, and contains the events space and workshop facilities. The ‘Museum’ sits to the south, and houses the information point, restaurant, office spaces, a rooftop café and the exhibition space in the basement.