Community development


Fostering active citizenship, enhancing cohesion and supporting the development of a pioneering housing coop and a community space at Rakova Jelša using social architecture and participatory methods.


Who is behind this?

Anja Lazar

IŠSP – Inštitut za študije stanovanj in prostora (Eng: Institute for Studies of Housing and Space)


Who is joining forces?





Faculty of Architecture, University of Ljubljana



Idea pitch

Rakova Jelša is the southernmost quarter of Ljubljana, which has indications of segregation, is still lacking some basic infrastructure & services and has low levels of political participation. With Space to (Inter)act we are creating a temporary outdoor common space and an enabling platform, using best practices of participatory methods, to empower the locals for active citizenship and support the development of a pioneering housing cooperative and a permanent community space for the quarter.

Where will your project idea take place?

Rakova Jelša, Southernmost neighbourhood of Ljubljana, Slovenia

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

In Slovenia, housing is becoming increasingly unaffordable, rarely involves citizens and therefore seldom addresses their needs adequately.

In the absence of formal solutions, people of Rakova Jelša were self-building their houses illegally for decades. Since 2009 municipality is legalising them and intervening with basic infrastructure provision. However, years of marginalization are still visible. Compared to other parts of Ljubljana it has no or few possibilities for civic engagement and lower education, income and political participation levels. Now, the public housing fund plans to build around 300 social housing apartments there as well as support the establishment of a pioneering housing cooperative by providing land. All these developments will radically transform the area.

Who are you doing it for?

1. The current residents of Rakova Jelša: The majority of the population of Rakov Jelša are first and second generation immigrants. Compared to other parts of Ljubljana, they are younger, with lower education and income levels. Percentage of people with lower education is twice bigger while the share of the population with finished university is three times smaller compared to other parts of Ljubljana. After years of neglect by formal structures, residents feel distrust towards public actors. They are weakly represented inside the municipality and have traditionally low levels of participation at the elections.
2. The future tenants of the housing cooperative: Young and elderly with below average incomes that are most vulnerable when it comes to access to adequate housing.

How do you plan to get there?

Work package 1 (WP1): Project design and development using social architecture and participative methodology
WP2: Co-building of a common space at Rakova Jelša together with the current residents and the future tenants of the housing cooperative
WP3: Community building:
- Forum discussions with current and future residents and local decision-makers about the situation in the neighbourhoods, their needs, opportunities, future plans.
- Community Participative Budget - gathering and discussing ideas, voting, participative realization of the ideas
- Community events – picnics, concerts and similar
WP4: Participative workshops - housing cooperative architecture and organizational, governance and legal structure development in collaboration with the future tenants.

What are the expected results?

The temporary common space will strengthen the sense of community at Rakova Jelša, and enable the creation of a permanent community space when the housing cooperative will be established. In the long run, a community space will provide space for mutual help and solidarity and contribute to the vivid and active community, which will gain voice also on the outside in relationship with the Quarter Community Trnovo and Municipality.

Also, this project will help Zadrugator and its residents define architectural organizational, legal and governance aspects of their project, which is an essential step in their housing cooperative development. Moreover, it will also provide additional evidence for successful advocacy.

How does your idea strengthen active citizenship at a local and community level?

We are strengthening the democracy and active citizenship by:
1. Building a community space and community governance capacities by co-creating a temporary outdoor common space for the neighbourhood. Through different participatory events we will open the space for people to meet, discuss, learn about the municipal structures and empower them for active participation in them. We will also run a community participative budget - community members will develop ideas for their neighbourhood improvements and through a democratic decision making process decide which ones to support.
2. Developing a housing cooperative that give residents more possibilities to take an active role in the project and subsequently increasing their capacity to work with others.

Why is this idea important to you?

We have been actively involved in the development of the housing cooperatives in Slovenia for 4 years now with raising awareness and advocacy actions as well as an initiation of a pilot project at Rakova Jelša in collaboration with the Public Housing Fund of the Municipality of Ljubljana. The coronavirus and the economic crisis as well as the recent change of the government is putting our efforts at risk.

This project will permit us to actively work with the future tenants and the existing community of Rakova Jelša, in order to create an inclusive housing and neighbourhood project. Moreover, it will strengthen our advocacy for community-led housing and spatial development to help us achieve the necessary systemic changes and move housing cooperatives development to the next step.

€ 45000,-

Total budget

€ 45000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

Personnel costs (Participative development of a common space; Participative architecture and organizational, governance and legal structure development for housing coop; Community governance capacity building; Project coordination) - 24500 EUR
Material costs for building of a common space - 7000 EUR
Participative community budget for community projects realization - 5000 EUR
Community picnics, concerts,... - 4000 EUR
Communications (website, leaflets, foto, video, media) - 4500 EUR

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

We would like to receive feedback on whether the project description is clear and concrete enough. As well, we are interested in your opinion on whether the project is a good fit for this call. Any other comments or suggestions are also welcome.



Idea created on May 25, 2020
Last edit on May 27, 2020

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