Titled “We need it – We do it” project of the Croatian team of architects and cultural workers: Dinko Peračić, Miranda Veljačić, Slaven Tolj and Emina Višnić converts the buildings that lost their primary purpose or have never been used as planned into places of intensive cultural production and social interactions.
Focused on the content reconstruction of three buildings – Jedinstvo of cultural centre POGON and other inhabitants in Zagreb, H-building of Rikard Benčić complex as the future Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rijeka and the Youth Centre in Split – their work showcases architecture as a social process working for the public good.
Report from the Croatian Front
Reflecting the situation at the front of Croatian architecture and culture the project is showing new emerging cultural practices working outside the traditional representative frameworks. Started out as temporary solutions these buildings shared a sad state of repair and needed to be reconstructed and reorganized to fit the particular use regimes and different types of events. Over the course of time and through the action of cultural activists and architects these places become a solution for independent organizations, artists, thinkers, activists and engaged citizens to use these spaces for their programmes. Through the work of the architects and inhabitants and users of the spaces impossible conditions are hastily transformed into possible, not giving up at the same time long-term changes and proper improvements of the spaces. Authors formulate clear intention: ”We want to present architectural work as a wider social discipline that can use different means and collaborate with participants-users, supporting and inspiring collective efforts, building spaces that exist and are used for the public good“.
Architecture as a social process
Opposing the standard process of architectural work in which an investor sets a task and an architect gives a designer’s and technical response according to which structures are built and given at users’ disposal these structures are inhabited by art and culture before they have been finished. Architectural involvement commences at the stage where the need and problem exist and not when the project has already been defined, and other prerequisites for the construction met. Architecture starts from the problem, not from the design, making it a part of a social process to which it is dedicated.
A factory of culture: Jedinstvo in Zagreb
Independent cultural scene and youth organisations gathered in Alliance Operation City, after lengthy negotiations, managed to establish a public institution POGON in partnership with the City of Zagreb. This civil–public partnership is forming an innovative model of governance and use of public infrastructure. Even before Pogon, former factory Jedinstvo has been in use. Today it is shared between POGON, independent cultural club Močvara and an artist Damir Bartol – Indoš, while part managed by POGON is used by dozens of groups and organizations. Minor construction interventions and voluntary refurbishing activities have reached their maximum, leaving the premises still inadequate and unsuitable for further development. Architectural involvement stemmed from the need to upgrade the activities, and find the solutions in co-operation with numerous users to transform the former factory into a multifunctional centre of live culture and contemporary artistic practices.
30-year promise fulfilled
Youth Centre in Split is the promise of space for contemporary culture activities for the young given to citizens of Split and repeated for 30 odd years, but never fulfilled. Similar to Jedinstvo, these premises were first occupied by associations and independent organisations. Oversized cultural centre from the socialist times started its life of cultural complex in an unfinished state of repair. Architectural work here has not been only the project of completion, but initiating, enhancing and creating conditions for the whole series of minor interventions that improve the status of premises and encourage the development of the programme. The building has become a place of live culture and numerous co-operation activities between the institution of Multimedia Cultural Centre who runs the building and a large number of organisations using the building still not in top condition.
Materialisation of a Museum
After a failure to finish several large-scale cultural projects, including the building for the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, an initiative pushed for the re-use of the former factory Benčić complex through straightforward and minimal interventions. Using methods and resources that were until recently employed by independent organisations in search of home in the circumstances of unfavourable economic conditions, has now been used for a public institution resulting in the materialisation of premises and activities instead of remaining in the constantly on hold.
- Dinko Peračić, Miranda Veljačić, Emina Višnić, Slaven Tolj, Space simmultaneously house arts and restauration works as a preparation for construction works, 2015-2016. Photo by Damir Žižić
- Mia Vučić, Schematic image of soci-cultural center Dom mladih in Split