The Promise of Inhospitable Lands

Scale: XL & L urban scale
Team: architect/urbanist/landscape architect
Site family: Think tabula non-rasa
Reflection site: 350 ha
Project site: 31ha
After Competition: preparing the further develop- ment of the idea and research as well as preparing the techni- cal studies as a basis for the urban development plan

The ‘’Stara Cinkarna’’ (Old Zinc Smelting Plant) site in Celje is marked by a history of industrial production that has influenced the economic, cultural, natural and health conditions of the city and its surroundings. The metallurgical and chemical industry activities that took place on the site for 120 years still have a major impact on the condition and use of the area today, as the soil is heavily contaminated with heavy metals and, in places, mineral oils. Over the last thirty years, the city has been trying to find a solution to prevent the spread of pollution, to reduce its extent or impact, and to manage the pollution. The pollution, the past activities and the associated negative impacts have excluded the site from the mental and actual space of the city, even though it is located in the very centre with excellent connections to the transport network. The site is a place of collective memory and a monument to the development of the city, but the burden of pollution has turned it into an alienated and undesirable place.

Celje wants to reverse the fortunes of a city with some of the worst air quality in the country and a city that is losing citizens to relocation, so targeted development of strategic locations is key. One of these is the ‘’Stara Cinkarna’’ site, which on the surface has exceptional advantages: proximity to the city centre, multi-modal connectivity, regional accessibility, good insolation, large surface area. The challenge of developing the site lies not only in the figurative sense of approaching the burden of history, but also in the literal sense of allowing development on contaminated land that only conditionally can be encroached upon or removed. The challenge is to encourage sustainable development of the site that will at the same time prevent further negative impacts of contamination on the immediate and wider surroundings, and to design development that sees the openness and connectedness of the site, rooted in its history, as an essential asset. The burden of space must therefore become its strength.

Find more information and download on the Europan Europe website ↗

Site visit Celje
Thursday 11.05.2023 / 11:00
Livestream link: announcement on our website and instagram europan_austria
Meeting point: Teharska cesta 1
Registration: Please confirm your participation via email to
(name, number of participants, mobile number)