Co-Creation of an URBiNAT Healthy Corridor for Nova Gorica, Slovenia



The city of Nova Gorica has been shaping its municipal strategy around the 3 main axes of the Regional Development Strategy of Northern Primorska, namely:

  • Development priority 1: Increasing competitiveness, innovation and employment opportunities in the region;
  • Development priority 2: Improving the quality of life
  • Development priority 3: Sustainable environmental, spatial and infrastructural development of the region

Priority 3 in particular, given the centrality of Nova Gorica and its surrounding settlements in the region, states “a. rational and efficient spatial development (use of the internal potential of settlements, degraded urban areas, adaptation environmental restrictions, prudent handling of natural resources) and e. utilization of cultural diversity (heritage), biodiversity and protected areas as development potential” These objectives were incorporated in the concept of the NbS pArk and Healthy Corridor. Concerning the Spatial Plan, named OPPN, on the selected area, the destination of use, as said, is University Campus, with an approved volumetric building concept dating back to 2010. Such last destination, although favourable to the University of Nova Gorica, has been reverted by the URBiNAT approach and the participatory work.

Additional inputs came along the co-diagnostic phase by the selection of Nova Gorica (jointly with Gorizia) as EU Culture Capital 2025, in particular referring to the GoGreen Axe that had stressed on the importance to have a more respectful approach to ecosystems and environmental assets. The application of such principle could be seens naturally done in the Koren area given its proximity to the Epicenters of the CC2025, GoBorderless2025, namely the Transalpina Railway Station and the X-Center, the letter being also URBiNAT Living Lab.


The co-creation of the healthy corridor concept was organised to be aligned as much as possible to the methodology defined by URBiNAT (as per figure below). The adaptation to the local context and the timing of the URBINAT implementation period depended both on the Pandemics, that de facto impeded collaborative face-to-face works for a long period, especially delaying the initial phases of Living Lab establishment due to the missing of personal contacts opportunities, and on the awarding of Nova Gorica of the title of EU Culture Capital 2025 in its candidature with the Italian Gorizia. In addition we should enlist the political elections that happened in November-December 2022, that put the project proposals made with citizens in the “waiting list of things to be seen by the new/confirmed mayor. All these factors accelerated the ferment for projects, sometimes generating problems in coordination and integration considering not only the will to make improvements in the Slovenian urban area, but also in the Italian part, determining frequent issues of coordination and integration. The integration of 2 national approaches was ideally designed in URBINAT since its conception, but the overlapping of events, political changes and new international scenario redesigned the initial extension across the border. 

The main steps of co-creation in co-design were taken in the Spring-Summer 2022, by presenting results of co-diagnostics in May-June 2022, grasping feed-backs from implemented works in the area (Bike Lane 2021) e carrying our workshops and bilateral meetings from 06.2022 to 02.2023 (and ongoing). We report the URBINAT process as a reference for what was possible and needed by the followers as Nova Gorica.

Lessons learned: 

Since the initial stages of the URBiNAT project design with the inclusion of Nova Gorica the local members were imagining the creation of something that could inspire both cities across the border on how to become more resilient and doing so by enabling citizens. Working for the connection of existing historical assets and social potentials, the co-design process had confirmed the need to establish a referential approach with an increasing set of sustainable innovations, insisting on the idea that green asks for more green. In this perspective, the openness of the co-design process in Nova Gorica did not only refer to the governance process, but also the capability to include as many ideas as possible that could be seen as circular, green and socially beneficial.  The participation by citizens and stakeholders, including the local task force, was meant to collect NbS proposals, either from the URBiNAT catalogue or from other sources (personal experiences, inventions, successful stories, etc.) and concentrate them in the space to generate an uniquum. The decision taken in this case was to condense ideas in a very ambitious plan, also grasping the opportunity from the Culture Capital Awarding, that was both matching the URBINAT vision through its GoGreen Axe, and generating opportunities in terms of cultural change and financial support (beyond the common idea to work in a crossborder perspective). The design of the healthy corridor and the development of a very detailed spatial and economic concept for the HC core area, named NbS Koren Park, was made by integrating, concretizing and endorsing all actors positions about improving by being resilient and sustainable. The final design was made by the University of Nova Gorica members, in particular by prof. Dobricic, was approved by citizens and politicians from both cities because of its congruence with all inputs during the co-diagnostics and co-design phase, as well as for its ambition to concentrate solutions and be open to even more additions in the future. To confirm this trend, we should say that University of NOva Gorica has made a proposal for a change of an area, the Koren valley, that was officially destined by the existing plan to be developed into its Campus.


The Nova Gorica Healthy Corridor and connected set of NbS, does develop along the Koren stream, close to the Nova Gorica city center, but includes extensions across the border by connecting important cultural and natural assets of the two cities. The area is in need, as highlighted by the experts of the task force and the stakeholders and citizens who were part of the co-diagnostic and co-design phase, of a transformation to make it more attractive as a place to stay, without being a simple area to cross. At this moment the area is neither wild enough for animals to be safe, nor equipped enough to let citizens enjoy and use, given the lack of services and facilities. In addition, the area includes important historic and cultural assets that are valued by the population, without enabling their connection and proper constant recreation.

The proposal resulting from the URBiNAT local efforts, by envisaging a connectivity of the historical and cultural assets, aims at creating a NbS park capable of offering many more leisure, relax and sports services and facilities to citizens, but at the same time enhancing considerably the biodiversity to offer a more comfortable and rich environment for autochthonous flora and fauna species.

Table 1 - Ecosystem Services*

* adapted from CICES/MAES-urban

Water management: 
Ground water for drinking
Nature based education
Nature based recreation
Heritage, cultural
Insect pollination
Noise mitigated by urban vegetation
Social justice cohesion: 
Heritage, cultural
Green space management: 
Urban temperature regulation
Water flow regulation and run off mitigation
Table 2 - NBS Multiple Benefits**
Enhancing sustainable urbanisation: 
Changing image of the urban environment
Creation of green jobs relating to construction & maintenance of NBS
Increase accessibility to green open spaces
Increase amount of green open spaces for residents
Increase willingness to invest in NBS
Provision of health benefits
Social inclusion
Restoring ecosystems and their functions: 
Increased cultural richness and biodiversity
Stakeholder Participation/Participatory Planning and Governance: 

Co-Selection of NbS and Co-Creation of the Healthy Corridor

The process of Co-creation of the healthy corridor in Nova Gorica, which is still in place due to the official procedure to let the plan be approved officially and integrated in the strategic development of the city, was based on the five steps of the co-creation process as defined by URBiNAT, namely Communication, Information, Consultation, Participation, Co-Building. In the cas of Nova Gorica the Local Diagnostics, especially in its second stage, should be considered as a preliminary important step towards planning, given that in most consultations citizens and stakeholders attempted designing the future. In particular, by means of the methods suggested and elaborated by the project with an intense use of the Walkthroughs and the Photovoices both in the diagnostics and in the Design phase, the final outputs have been constant collaboration of Researchers and experts, municipal clerks and politicians, citizens and local institutions representatives that equally committed to make a change. Such a change was now merely in the quality of the selected area in terms of leisure, health and ecosystem, but also in the overall mentality of population oriented to car mobility and urban cement. During the co-design process, which was in this case also a co-creation set of moments, the main activities were oriented to children, by working on-site on specific concrete testing initiatives (as the Mobilet, the bike rides, the crossborder Theatre, etc.) and in room, through workshops with pupils at schools and students in the student house.

The results showed total attention to the green environment and interest to any form of resilience and sustainability, with the aim to offer a healthy space to citizens, as well as inspire them on innovative sustainable solutions for the future.