My Photostory, Your Photostory, Our Neighbourhood

Photography with Captions in the Participatory Urban Regeneration Process


  • Matej Nikšič Urban Planning Institute of the Republic of Slovenia



urban regeneration, participation, photovoice, neighbourhood, community, having a say


Comprehensive urban regeneration pays special attention to the needs and aspirations of the users that are already present in the spaces to be regenerated, however new participatory tools are needed. The paper illustrates concrete fieldwork in an older neighbourhood in Ljubljana, Slovenia, where the photovoice was used to experiment with new ways of integrating residents’ notions of spaces. The paper describes the experimental process that aims to develop an operational approach to integrate the opinions of residents into the regeneration process. It discusses the methodological approach and issues of the interpretation of the individual points of view expressed through the photography and the captions. The shared values of the community are pointed out as an important base to interpret the individuals’ notions within the broader context of the non-homogeneous community where the opinions differ among its members, but a common ground is anticipated for the needs of urban planning. The paper addresses the issue of emergent property and its role in community-based neighbourhood renewal. It also encourages further experimentation with new and innovative tools for participatory urban planning where different voices must not be lost but nurtured.

Author Biography

Matej Nikšič, Urban Planning Institute of the Republic of Slovenia

Matej Nikšič is an architect and urban designer, he works as a researcher at the Urban Planning Institute of the Republic of Slovenia (UIRS). Like his PhD, his research focusing on urban regeneration, public spaces, participatory planning, place identity and experimental approaches to community-based improvements of urban environments is defined by interest in liveability and sustainability of urban and remote settlements. He teaches Urban Planning at the University of Ljubljana and coordinates the Slovenian team of the European network Human Cities. He is an active member of International Society of City and Regional Planners (ISOCARP) and Association of European Schools of Planning (AESOP). He is co-author of various publications, including Public Space and Urban Justice (2017), Human Cities - Challenging the City Scale (2018) and Enabling the City (2021). He used to be an activist too within V troje initiative promoting sustainable use of public space in Slovenia.


Abigail Aboulkacem, Slimane Aboulkacem and Lory E. Haas, ‘Photovoice 2.0: A Comprehensive Research Framework for the Digital Generation’, TechTrend, 65/5 (2021), pp. 874-883.

Matija Bevk et al., Končno poročilo strokovne žirije za izbor Plečnikovih odličij za leto 2021, Ljubljana, 2021, p. 3.

Matevž Čelik et al (eds.) Ulice in soseske, Ljubljana, 2016.

Helen Close, ‘The Use of Photography as a Qualitative Research Tool’, Nurse Researcher, 15/1 (2007), pp. 27-36.

Mark Deakin, ‘A Community-Based Approach to Sustainable Urban Regeneration’, Journal of Urban Technology, 16/1 (2009), pp. 91-112.

Dave Elder-Vass, The Causal Power of Social Structures: Emergence, Structure and Agency, Cambridge, 2011.

Thomas Ermacora et al. (eds.), Challenging The City Scale: Journeys in People-Centred Design, Basel, 2018.

Lucy Faulkner, Katrina Brown and Tara Quinn, ‘Analyzing Community Resilience as an Emergent Property of Dynamic Social-Ecological Systems’, Ecology and Society, 23/1 (2018), art. 24.

Josefine Fokdal et al. (eds.), Enabling the City: Interdisciplinary and Transdisciplinary Encounters in Research and Practice, New York, 2021.

Pennie Foster-Fishman et al., ‘Using Methods That Matter: The Impact of Reflection, Dialogue, and Voice’, American Journal of Community Psychology, 36/3 (2005), pp. 275-291.

Barbara Goličnik, Matej Nikšič and Lise Coirier (eds.), Human Cities: Celebrating Public Space, Brussels: 2010.

Stuart Greene, Kevin J. Burke and Maria K. McKenna, ‘A Review of Research Connecting Digital Storytelling, Photovoice, and Civic Engagement’, Review of Educational Research, 88/6 (2018), pp. 844-878.

Seon Gyeong Baek and Hyun-Ah Kwon, ‘Participatory Planning through Flexible Approach: Public Community Facilities in Seoul’s Urban Regeneration Project’, Sustainability, 12/24 (2020), art. 10435.

Gunwoo Kim, Galen Newman and Bin Jiang, ‘Urban Regeneration: Community Engagement Process for Vacant Land in Declining Cities’, Cities, 102 (2020), art. 102730.

Daniel Little, ‘Emergence’, Understanding Society, blogspot accessed 6 October 2022 at

Garett Morgan et al., ‘Wellbeing as an Emergent Property of Social Practice’, Buildings and Cities, 3/1 (2022), pp. 756-771.

Antonio Nesticò, Cristina Elia and Vincenzo Naddeo, ‘Sustainability of Urban Regeneration Projects: Novel Selection Model Based on Analytic Network Process and Zero-One Goal Programming’, Land Use Policy, 99 (2020), art. 104831.

Matej Nikšič, ‘Together on the Platform: Common Action and Reviving the Central Open Public Space in Ruski Car (Russian Tsar) in Ljubljana’, in: Josefine Fokdal et al. (eds.), Enabling the City, New York, 2021, pp. 167-181.

Matej Nikšič, Biba Tominc and Nina Goršič, ‘Revealing Residents’ Shared Values through Crowdsourced Photography: Experimental Approach in Participatory Urban Regeneration’, Urbani izziv, 29, special issue (2018), pp. 29-42.

Candace Nykiforuk, Helen Vallianatos and Laura M. Nieuwendyk, ‘Photovoice as a Method for Revealing Community Perceptions of the Built and Social Environment‘, International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 10/2 (2011), pp. 103-124.

Luc Pauwels, ‘Participatory Visual Research Revisited: A Critical-Constructive Assessment of Epistemological, Methodological and Social Activist Tenets’, Ethnography, 16/1 (2013), pp. 95-117.

Leopoldo Sdino, Paolo Rosasco and Gianpiero Lombardini, ‘The Evaluation of Urban Regeneration Processes’, in: Stefano Della Torre et al. (eds.), Regeneration of the Built Environment from a Circular Economy Perspective, Cham, 2020), pp. 47-57.

Herbert Simon, ‘The Architecture of Complexity’, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 106/6 (1962), pp. 467-482.

Matjaž Uršič, ‘Critical Reconsideration of Social and Cultural Elements that Constitute the Creative Ecosystem of a City: Examples from Slovenia and Japan’, Traditiones, 46/1-2 (2017), pp. 149-170.

Brian Walker and David Salt, Resilience Practice: Building Capacity to Absorb Disturbance and Maintain Function, Washington, 2012.

Caroline Wang and Mary Burris, ‘Photovoice: Concept, Methodology, and Use for Participatory Needs Assessment’, Health Education and Behaviour, 24 (1997), pp. 369-387.