The fourth summer school, a part of the Benčić Youth Council project, under the name of VMB + PARK|I|G|RALIŠTE was a part of the Tobogan Festival, which is also the beginning of the cooperation on the program line Brick House, Rijeka 2020 – European Capital of Culture. The festival’s founder was Rijeka 2020, and the main partners, besides Benčić Youth Council, were Rijeka City Library, City of Rijeka Puppet Theater and Art Kino Croatia.
Summer School “BYC+PARK|I|G|RALIŠTE” was realized in co-operation with the artists Una Rebić, Marija Kajapi, Dunja Tišma and Nika Rukavina. The goal of the summer school was to point out the importance of green public spaces and its effect on raising the quality of life in urban environments. The research of quality of life in the central districts of the city of Rijeka proved the dissatisfaction and the need of the inhabitants for green areas, which significantly affects the psychological and physical health of individuals. The Children’s house in the Benčić complex will become a gathering place for children from Rijeka and its surroundings and will significantly affect the immediate environment. By conquering space and creating a green zone during one week’s summer school with kids, we wanted to encourage the reflection on the importance of open spaces and thus influence the future planning of before mentioned space.
The newly-built green area was activated every day in the afternoon with an intensive program designed in cooperation with various organizations, initiatives and individuals from our city. The afternoon program was designed for interested citizens of all ages.
In the morning program of the summer school, there were seventeen children who during the first five days of the workshop worked together with the artists to design PARK|I|G|RALIŠTE. On the first day of the summer school, a truck brought hundred square meters of bushes that had to be placed on the unattended part of the parking lot in front of the future Children’s House. In this way a grass surface was created, on which the content was formed in the following days. A large banner with the name of the summer school was created and at the proposal of the children a last year’s slogan that the children designed for the pop-up playground was used – Come to our park, before it gets dark!
In the coming days, children participated in structured activities led by adults: making chairs, polygons, bookcases, instruments, concrete benches and chessboards. But also they participated in a large number of unstructured activities – numerous outdoor games and outdoor sports, of which the most popular ones were badminton and Chinese Jump Rope (Elastic Rope). The time for free activities and games, such as badminton, was the time in which children could be self-organized in selecting and organizing the game. Providing time for such completely free activity was an important segment of the summer school that focused on the importance of free time for children in free and unstructured games and research.
Every day in the afternoon there was a program for citizens which was created so we could make the most use of the created space and animate our neighbors during this one week. In order to make the program as varied as possible, and to get to know the closest neighborhood of Benčić, numerous NGOs, individuals and institutions working in the neighborhood have been invited to cooperate. Thanks to them, for six days citizens enjoyed a variety of activities from the Day of recreation when our collaborators held yoga, tai chi and capoeira classes; Talk Day when visitors could discuss the future of the Children’s House, and be a part of pub quiz version – Park quiz; Day of creativity and solidarity when we held many workshops; Day of Open-Air Cinema when we watched movie projections; Day of Performances and the Day of Shopping and Games when we held a healthy food fair, artisan handicrafts fair and a large number of outdoor games (badminton, chess, cricket, rugby …).
It was remarkably interesting to observe how the greening of only a small piece of space in the center of the city means to the citizens, especially the community of people who work or live in the immediate vicinity. Already, on the first day, the kids that live in the surrounding buildings came down to play badminton, and every day with us there was more and more people to finally ending up on Saturday, the last day of intervention hundreds of people visited us, and only during the morning. On Saturday, we held the Day of Shopping and Play when we enjoyed the Green Corner Demetra (fair food fair) and artBazaar (artisan handicraft fair). It was a day when a lot of enthusiasts found themselves in the same place and it could be felt in the atmosphere. The fair was followed by live music by two groups of musicians. While some of the visitors enjoyed shopping, others sat in deep shade and talked, played with the youngest, or participated in numerous activities such as badminton, table tennis or chess. PARK|I|G|RALIŠTE became that day a perfect place to meet and hang out, the city’s outdoors living room and common yard.
All days, and especially the last day of the festival, people were asking if we will repeat something like this and if there is a possibility that the surface which we have created will stay a permanent oasis. In our book of impressions we have received many comments from citizens and associates who pointed out that this kind of space is what is needed in our city and that people have welcomed this intervention with open arms. That is why we will certainly devote ourselves to thinking and planning an action, work or program that will try to resume in some way the activation of the outer space of the Rikard Benčić complex by 2020 when, as it is well known, Benčić complex that is part of the European Capital of Culture project will become a new cultural city center. The renovated complex will be used by the City of Rijeka Museum, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art and the Rijeka City Library. We estimate that more than a thousand people visited the VMB + PARK|I|G|RALIŠTE program during the six-day program.
PARK|I|G|RALIŠTE is a joint artwork by Marija Kajapi, Una Rebić and Dunja Tišma, who tried alternative ways of using urban space and spending leisure time. The idea started from a specific local situation – the lack of adequate green areas for socializing, vacationing or spending time in a piece of nature in the city center. PARK|I|G|RALIŠTE conquers part of the city center, changing city parking spaces into a grass area with various activities. Taking the surface of one or more average Croatian flats, it creates a collective outdoor living room, inviting residents to an urban picnic, sharing city space and spreading its public purpose.
Collaborators – afternoon program: KOV Pantera-pod vodstvom trenerica Tai Chi Quana Rade Pašić, Sanja Vinyasa Yoga, Capoeira – Jacobina Arte, Gradska knjižnica Rijeka, Klub mladih, artMašina, Društvo za zaštitu životinja Rijeka, VINS (Prostor plus), VAFI – Internacionalni festival animiranog filma djece i mladih Varaždin (djeca 7 – 18 godina), Nadija Mustapić, Marin Lukanović, Althea Thauberger, Try Theatre, OŠ za balet i suvremeni ples (Kate Foley), Demetrin zeleni kutak, Art Bazzar