The PERFECT partner the Regional Development Agency of Ljubljana Urban Region reports about a new roof terrace garden at Jože Plečnik High School in Ljubljana, as a good example of a bottom-up, participatory green infrastructure project which can be implemented with few resources to bring many additional benefits. 

Jože Plečnik High School is in the centre of Ljubljana and it has no school yard or open space of its own. The school management was looking for a way to offer its students a safe green space to relax, learn and socialise when the idea for a roof garden was suggested, and the idea was adopted quickly. Due to a lack of funds, a diverse public-private partnership of the high school (management, teachers and students), a landscape design expert Pazi!park Association and several donor companies was established in 2015.

On one of the school's terraces a little roof garden was created through a series of successive workshops over six months. The terrace was designed to encourage the growth of many diverse plants whilst ensuring there is suitable space for students to socialise. In addition to the beds, benches and storage space for maintenance equipment was incorporated into the plan. The planting design took into account the specific growing conditions on the roof, for example the exposure to the wind and the sun, drought and drying of the soil, as well as winter frost.  

All the construction, sowing and planting was carried out by students themselves, with the help of expert mentors. Building the garden together forged bonds between participants; it led to mutual understanding and trust, and to raised awareness and responsibility towards the environment. It helped to develop creative and quality solutions, through which all participants learned something new from each other.

We like the garden very much because it is special and not every school has it. We planted it ourselves, and it is such a good feeling to see it grow. Now, instead of sitting in the corridors, we come to the terrace, water the plants, arrange a thing or two or simply sunbathe and spend time in the open air. 

Alenka, Manja, Lucija and Pija, students             

Now, the little terrace of merely fifty square metres is not just a vegetable and ornamental garden; it is also an outdoor classroom, a laboratory for discovering the different laws of nature and a place for socialising in the open air. Various events, workshops and culinary events are now taking place in the terrace garden. The variety of vegetation and selection of species attract bees, butterflies and other insects, increasing the biodiversity of a predominantly urbanised area. Further information about the terrace, including how it came to be and the benefits it brings, is available here.

This green terrace brings multiple benefits mostly on a local level, but it is nevertheless a part of the wider urban green infrastructure of Ljubljana. Regional Development Agency of the Ljubljana urban Region is actively searching for other good practices on a local, regional and national level to include into the Regional Green Infrastructure Strategy and consequently the PERFECT Action Plan.