STORIES FROM ZALOG

STORIES FROM ZALOG

Project CULBURB activates the public realm in the suburbs of Central European capital cities through acupuncture interventions. Using minimal means these actions set up interaction between inhabitants and have an impact on the community life. 

Today Central European cities are again becoming a political arena of citizens, initiatives, NGOs, and other forms of activism, but we are witnessing a lack of such activities in suburbia. At the same time we can see the extreme growth of suburbs around all cities, meaning a huge number of European inhabitants are placed out of the dense city but still have access to all it’s advantages. The pressure made by suburbia and sprawl to the core of a city is not just an infrastructural issue connected with financial investment, but it brings a paradox to the contemporary city because it is increasingly loosing one of its primary functions – housing. The majority of city users no longer lives in the city; home is beyond the city borders. This fact causes a new political map where city users, the ones living in suburbia, almost have stronger voting potential than city residents. This distribution of political power is deadly for the future of the European city. Either it is necessary to change the structure of political systems, or to extend city functions to suburbia and decrease daily migration.

Project CULBURB aims to activate a public realm in the suburbs of central European capital cities, by minimal means, and to start the citification of suburbia. A first step in such a process is the improvement of public spaces in the suburbs. We start this process through acupuncture interventions in six localities around Central European capitals. In the respective localities, acupuncture methods are implemented with artistic and architectural tools. The chosen interveners will receive support to develop their ideas and interpretations, which can take any form that ultimately leads to: socializing; the reduction of barriers; enhancement in the quality of the environment; and improved community life.

LJUBLJANA –Zalog

Zalog is a borough of Ljubljana located at the east end of the city. Whilst still part of Yugoslavia the area experienced much immigration from other areas, which twenty years later has led to a generation that have their roots in a very diverse mix of cultural backgrounds. It is not an area with a high Slovenian population, and it has proven difficult to integrate these young people with their city. Instead they have developed their own urban identity, found their own urban hotspots, and have their own urban (non-) perspective. Culture is only one way in which integration has proved difficult. Physically Zalog is located outside the ring road of Ljubljana, which makes the area feel remote from other parts of the city. Due to the closing of industry in the area there is a lack of employment possibilities, so many people are forced to commute to the centre. The economy has been stagnant for so long that there is little inspiration for dreams of a better future and engagement with the present. In particular for the younger generation there is the feeling that they have been forgotten by city planners, developers, and society.

In recent years, a new generation has been growing up in Ljubljana’s district Zalog. Remote from other parts of Ljubljana and inhabited by youngsters that have their roots in a very diverse mix of cultural backgrounds from all around ex-Yugoslavia, this group has developed its own urban identity, found its own urban hotspots and its own urban (non-)perspective.With the making of ZALOGRAD, a group of artists, architects and social researchers have started exploring the urban space of Zalog through the eyes of its youngsters. How do they relate to their ‘city’, what is important to them in terms of city space, how do they see the future in Zalog? Last but not least, ZALOGRAD is also about building communication and overcoming prejudices between different generations of citizens: who are them – who are we?

The project group is researching ways to initiate a number of new urban spaces that would fulfill the needs of youngsters in Zalog – places where, for the first time, they can take the initiative and construct a part of their own city – ZALOGRAD. Ultimately, ZALOGRAD, made with and by younsters, sketches the grounds for the joint production of a manual on the perception of urban spaces, which will be made available as a result of this collaboration within the wider project.

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ZALOGRAD is an outcome of the project Public City, initiated by STEALTH.unlimited (Ana Džokić and Marc Neelen) and C3 (Boštjan Bugarič), made in collaboration with Moderna Galerija in Ljubljana and supported by Ministry of Culture of Slovenia and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Ljubljana.