Městská hora (“City Mountain”) located in the city of Beroun (CZ) is a forest park known mainly for its bears. The park has been the home of three bear cubs that starred in a popular Czech children’s TV show. The local beararium and the entire park are among the most visited places in Beroun and are annually enjoying a high number of visitors. However, the space is gradually becoming inadequate in terms of its infrastructure and capacity. Therefore, the town has decided to revitalise the area and organize an architectural competition, that will ensure its renewal. Our job was to involve the citizens of the town in the planning process.
What do you like about Městská hora? What do you dislike? And what do you miss there? These were some of the questions we asked the residents of Beroun. We engaged the locals through an extensive participatory process that allowed us to get valuable data and suggestions directly from those who use the area. The participation included in-person and online meetings, a survey and our so-called participation container, i.e. Mr C. At this unusual info point, people could find out more about the upcoming architectural competition and also leave their suggestions and ideas. We also involved the students of a local primary school located directly below the park since they use the green spaces a lot.
And what was the most resonant topic among the citizens? The bears! The locals can hardly imagine Městská hora without its beararium. Of the original three bears, only one lives at Městská hora today, but it is still considered a living symbol of Beroun, as the city has a bear in its coat of arms. What will happen to the bear zoo when the last of the bear brothers is gone is a question the whole town is asking itself. Most of the residents are in favour of keeping the facilities and many even call for new bear cubs. It remains to be seen whether the tradition of bear breeding in Beroun will be maintained.
In addition to the general public, relevant stakeholders – local associations, non-profit organizations, representatives of local schools, or the town council departments – also commented on the future of the park. The organiser of the architectural competition will incorporate their suggestions, together with the ideas gathered from the public, into the competition brief. Consequently, the architects will have a clear idea of what the inhabitants of Beroun would like to see on Městská hora and therefore the competition proposals will reflect the real needs of the citizens while respecting the natural and social value of the space.
Overall, the participatory approach to planning the revitalization of Městská hora contributes to the creation of an urban space that will truly serve the needs of the locals. We believe that taking into account the opinions and suggestions of the public is a key step towards the successful and sustainable development of public spaces in Beroun and anywhere in the world.
Are you planning the revitalization of public spaces in your city or village and need help with participation? Get in touch with us via email@example.com