Nature Park Ričina

Nature Park Ričina
Mara Prpić
A fictional entity turning a neglected river into a place of care and growth.

Urbani separe
Rijeka, Croatia
A tasty blend of deep participation, local cultures and global ecologies.
Team members
Tanja Blašković
Tanja Kalčić
Marin Nižić
Mara Prpić
Field of work
Design, Urban planning, Ecology, Multimedia, Research
Project category
Raising awareness
Project submitted

Urbani separe is a young and dynamic collective that uses tactical urbanism and long-term, layered participatory practices to bring culture to neglected places and communities in order to challenge problem areas in Rijeka and beyond. Via long-term transdisciplinary projects in public space we build and foster active citizenship, support civic initiatives and provide training in sustainable micro-local agency, urban ecology and accessibility. In partnership with more than 60 institutions, NGOs, local councils, initiatives and over 2.000 volunteers, we have gathered 15.000 visitors on 90 public events and 300 activities. As a team of designers, urbanists, sociologists, communication experts and cultural workers, our vision is to create lasting impacts on places, their communities and their natures.

Croatia's lacking green infrastructure policy puts municipalities in the dark, with Rijeka designing an initial policy brief in 2020. Disconnected natural spaces, disjoined expertise and lacking participation seem to lock action. But, a small river offers a jump-start. Ričina, neglected, degraded and often dry, is in dire need of a joint effort to restore. Past interventions amplify effects of climate change, decay biodiversity and directly impact the river, blocking access of a more-than-human community to its waters. Lack of awareness and formal agency urges for a new frame of agency. Hence, we proclaimed it a fictional Nature Park - newest in the world. To establish a Nature Park is to valorize its heritage. By imitating something as formal and structured, NP Ričina twists ecological and social challenges into opportunities for protecting and celebrating the existing, restoring the broken and building the wanted. To establish a Nature Park is to nurture its Rangers. A manifold community is gathered to care for, think about and interpret the ecosystem, co-creating a network of events, explorations and installations. Through a citizen-science approach, spatial, social and ecological improvements of sites, communities and natures are created. With micro-local materials, ingredients, histories and knowledges, we have produced a series of site-specific workshops, interventions, maps, exhibitions, educational and discursive formats, as well as new products and services. To establish a Nature Park is to protect it in the long run. Rangers inform stratified long-term action, shaping inputs for a nature-based river restoration process. Proclaiming a degraded natural-cultural area a Nature Park offers a radical perspective to face issues common across Europe and beyond. Developing green infrastructures is a task ahead of us all. Our tool gathers a diverse community around caring for green spaces our homes depend upon. A sustainable, innovative, fun and beautiful feat.