Zagreb, Croatia

Population: 790,000 


Croatia’s capital Zagreb is the country’s largest and most economically significant city.  Located along the Sava river and bordered by the Medvednica mountain and its nature park, Zagreb has rich natural features.

The Living Lab: Sesvete

The Living Lab is within the Sesvete district in the East of Zagreb at the foothills of the Medvednica mountain. With its 70,000 inhabitants, Sesvete has the youngest population in Croatia, and a strong community and entrepreneurial spirit.

Located on various key European traffic routes, Sesvete has an industrial past and present, with a particularly active car and construction industry. Distinctive, tall silo buildings form part of Sesvete’s skyline and industrial heritage. In particular, the site of the former meat-processing factory, Sljeme, is the core of the Living Lab, with green plans in place for the silo buildings themselves and the surrounding areas.


Latest news from Zagreb

Downtime provides opportunities for innovations – 2021 updates from proGIreg Living Labs

26 July 2021

While the COVID-19 pandemic has still somewhat restricted on site activities in proGIreg living labs in 2021, the proGIreg cities network has continued to gather online in the proGIreg ‘Living Lab Lounges’ to share experiences, knowledge and information to support each other in their nature-based transformation. ProGIreg 'front-runner' cities test, plan and implement nature-based solutions (NbS), and invite proGIreg 'follower cities' to learn about their experiences.


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proGIreg therapeutic garden opening held for disabled users

14 June 2021

proGireg Zagreb Living Lab, opened a new therapeutic garden in May 2021, which was designed in especially with disabled people in mind and in close consultation with local groups working with people with disabilities. The garden entails green spaces for activities, relaxation and learning, also including a 'mini-farm' - an innovative structure for urban gardening.


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proGIreg @EU Green Week - Local Pollution - Nature-based Solutions to the Rescue!

3 June 2021

proGIreg's Zagreb partner Iva Bedenko was a speaker at an ICLEI Europe & European Commission session during EU Green Week 2021, to discuss the role of nature-based solutions in addressing local pollution. The event gathered experts working with cities throughout Europe discussing how nature-based solutions are by far the most beneficial tool for cities to become more sustainable.


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Zagreb prioritizes citizen well-being with nature-based solutions

10 May 2021

Zagreb, proGIreg’s front-runner city, did not have it easy in 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic and two earthquakes – one in Zagreb in March, with a magnitude of 5.3, and another in December, 50 km to the south, with 6.4 magnitude - testing the limits of response capacity.  Now the city is looking towards a brighter future by implementing innovative nature-based solutions (NBS) to improve well-being of citizens, with a new therapeutic garden opening on May 10th!


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Rooting for regrowth – a look back at proGireg Living Lab's 2020

6 January 2021

The past year was tumultuous to say the least, posing challenges to on-site activities in proGireg Living Labs - however they have taken the challenge as an opportunity to root locally and re-evaluate. Throughout 2020 the Living Lab’s have exchanged experiences, by meeting up regularly in proGireg’s virtual ‘Living Lab Lounges’. Learn about what Turin (Italy), Ningbo (China), Zagreb (Croatia), Cascais (Portugal), Cluj-Napoca (Romania), Dortmund (Germany), Piraeus (Greece) and Zenica (Bosnia and Herzegovina) have been up to in 2020.


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Living Lab Sesvete holding strong after powerful earthquake

26 March 2020

On Sunday morning, Zagreb’s residents woke up to the Croatian capital’s most powerful earthquake in 140 years. Widespread images circulated in the media of locals pouring out into the snowy streets in the early hours in their pyjamas, ironically just as coronavirus social distancing measures had started to be enforced. Tragically, a 15 year old girl lost her life in the earthquake and a maternity hospital was badly affected, with mothers having to hold their new-borns outside on the freezing streets. With several more people injured and huge damage done in particular to historical buildings, all amid the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, the city is facing major challenges, and doing what it can to tackle them head-on.


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Locals of Sesvete dig for a new tree-lined street

12 November 2019

On 26 October 2019 around 300 school children, students, members of local sports clubs and hikers from the area of Sesvete, proGIreg’s Living Lab in Zagreb, took part in a mass tree-planting activity, to raise awareness of the importance of protecting the environment and sustainable urban development. The tree planting took place in an industrial area inhabited by large number of marginalized groups, where many high school students walk on a daily basis. In total, the participants planted 162 trees and 40 bushes, and it is important to note that there was previously not a single tree in the planting area.


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Landscape belongs to everyone

17 June 2019

Landscape democracy is about understanding the human as well as the physical elements of a neighbourhood; vegetation, mountains, rivers, buildings, streets, people and even the hidden power structures within a community all play a role in shaping a space and its identity. This was the key concept of the 'Landscape and Democracy workshop session', which took place within the 'Le:Notre Landscape Forum’ held in Zagreb during the week of 9 – 13 April 2019. The session focussed on Sesvete, the proGIreg Living Lab and post-industrial area in the East of the city.


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Zagreb to launch Croatia’s first therapeutic urban garden

16 May 2019

Ten years ago, a series of plots of land around ICLEI Member Zagreb (Croatia) were standing unused as they waited for redevelopment. Competition over land in Europe’s capital cities is fierce, and Zagreb is no different. So, in spring 2013, rather than leave the lots derelict, the Mayor of Zagreb opened the spaces up to the public.

Applications flooded in for the open call offering garden lots to citizens who were not already owners or tenants of agricultural land. “There is a tradition of outdoor living and agriculture in the whole of Croatia,” explains Iva Bedenko of Zagreb’s office for strategic planning and development. “The idea of the city gardens is for the citizens to ecologically produce food that they consume later.”


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Zagreb co-design takes shape at local Sesvete workshop

20 December 2018

On 3-4 December Zagreb got the ball rolling by hosting its first official Living Lab co-design planning meeting together with local partners and stakeholders. The gathering was large and motivation was high. In the words of Matija Vuger, City of Zagreb: “The shared response was that of enthusiasm and optimism, and all the stakeholders are excited to be included in the further steps of the co-design process.”

Sesvete, Zagreb’s easternmost district, is a fascinating blend of the old and the new. Its unique skyline of tall, abandoned factory buildings, combined with its young, active and entrepreneurial population – which already played a key role in repurposing the post-industrial area into a residential-recreational-commercial neighbourhood – makes Sesvete a highly interesting setting for the proGIreg Living Lab.


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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 innovation action programme under grant agreement no. 776528. The sole responsibility for the content of this website lies with the proGIreg project and in no way reflects the views of the European Union.