🔵 TUESDAY, JULY 2 🔵
Neoliberal transformations and resistance
After an overview of the city’s development foundation on Monday, you will have an opportunity to see particular examples of neoliberal transformation in the city. You will be able to see how the specific local tactics have led to the creation of a global neoliberal city. The privatisation of public resources, societal industry landscape and re-calibration of planning methods have accelerated the gentrification process in Zagreb and joined the global rhythm of neoliberalisation. You will see how the surplus from the productive industrial landscape which had built much of its reproduction (i.e. housing and public services) has been destroyed and how the ties between production and reproduction have been severed. You will also see how the city introduced public-private partnerships and started to build vanity projects amidst the crumbling infrastructure. These processes will be accompanied by conversations with grassroots activists, union members and organizations that are part of Zagreb’s vibrant movement against these neoliberal transformations.
☀️ MORNING TOURS 10:00-13:00 ☀️
Meeting point Brvnara
11. The magic of public-private partnerships (Part 1) – visit to the Wastewater Treatment plant
🗣️ Tour guide Tomislav Tomašević
On this tour we will visit the industrial zone of Žitnjak on the eastern entrance to Zagreb. Here we will visit Zagreb’s largest and most expensive infrastructure project in the past few decades – the Central Wastewater Treatment Plant. This public-private partnership contract was signed in 2000 with two private companies that were granted a concession to operate the plant until 2028. The original contract has never been published and the private companies apparently requested 117 annexes to it. Water prices have tripled for the consumers in the last 15 years, while the City of Zagreb provides an additional 20 million EUR for the concession in its annual budget every year. Meanwhile the directors of these private companies have been indicted for corruption by the State Attorney’s Office. Zagreb’s mayor pushed for a waste incinerator to be built through the same model of public-private partnership in the same location, but this was stopped by activists. Another interesting nearby example of public-private partnership is Zagreb airport, with scandals related to the bidding procedure, annexes to the original contract and failures on the side of private company to provide services required by the contract with Croatian and Zagreb government.
12. Novi Jelkovec – Zagreb’s social housing model of segregation
🗣️ Tour guide Jere Kuzmanić
Novi Jelkovec is one of the few housing neighbourhoods that represents a large-scale, comprehensively planned and realized effort of the city of Zagreb in the period between 2003 and 2009. Situated on the far eastern outskirts of the city, on a former industrial plot in municipal ownership, it consists of 53 housing blocks mixed with commercial and public services, 2700 housing units and around 7000 inhabitants. Today it is arguably one of the most isolated parts of the city, physically as well as socially. Originating from the public housing program ‘POS’ from 2001 and based on the General Urban Plan from 2003, it was supposed to be a showcase of Zagreb’s ambitious housing model, a blend of government-sponsored, municipally financed and market-regulated housing for marginalised and socio-economically weak groups. Instead, it turned into living evidence of weak social and urban policies. Despite the relatively high level of public services built and on-site infrastructure, local media in 2014 called it the largest Croatian “ghetto”, with a large number of empty commercial and housing square meters, domestic violence reports doubling since the first homes were inhabited and social care centre filing more than 5000 different cases referring to this area. Inhabitants are organized in different initiatives, protesting the fact that the school is over capacity, as well as their fellow neighbours from other marginalized groups, i.e. Roma families. The current structure of households, as well as the everyday practices and coexistence of inhabitants, are a testament to how this form of social housing based on the logic of the market (i.e. choice of the location) and political improvisation, combined with the effects of the economic crisis in 2008, have contributed to dysfunctional social regeneration that additionally segregates citizens through housing.
13. Unplanned Zagreb – tour through the margins of the systems that built the city
🗣️ Tour guide Antonija Komazlić
The informal settlements in Zagreb, as well as in other bigger cities in the region, can be seen as the other side of the nominal housing policy. They emerged outside urban planning in periods of strong industrialization in the 1930s and post-1945 when there was a substantial need for affordable housing for a large influx of migrant workers. The socialist state developed an avantgarde big-scale system of housing allocation following the concept of housing as a right, which developed large parts of the city by building the majority of the existing housing fond in Croatia. However, it failed to produce the required number of apartments. Consequently, the workers were compelled to build houses by themselves. These settlements lacked building permissions and were built in the areas inadequate for housing, mostly industrial zones. Unrecognized by formal plans, they lacked the basic infrastructure and social standards necessary for building in the first place. Later on, using various tactics, some of them made the city administration provide electricity, water, sewage, primary medical care, as well as build schools and kindergartens. Others benefited from the infrastructure of the planned neighborhoods next to them. The deregulation of the urban planning policy in the 1990s, after the socialist period and the restoration of capitalist system, only normalized the unregulated building schemes, but this time at the cost of the social structure in general. Meanwhile, the state carried out a questionable legalization process and there are only a few examples of sanitization.
During this tour we will visit one such part of the city on its eastern fringe called Kozari Bok. It is a neighborhood populated by workers who were not able to get housing in the socialist housing blocks, but also refugees from Yugoslavia wars as well as Roma community living in neighborhoods nearby.
14. Preparing for gentrification – tour through the Pedestrian center of excellence
🗣️ Tour guide Iva Marčetić
When in 2017 the Mayor of Zagreb announced that he would build a Pedestrian center of excellence, it seemed like a joke. Shiny rendered pictures that appeared in daily newspapers of ironed out lawns in place of a park, a pedestrian lane between busy tram lines and the name itself looked like he was pulling a prank. Unfortunately, not a year went by and the park has been demolished while large sums of money have been spent on changing one of the most beloved city vistas into a sanitized place with no apparent reason. Soon there came the resistance. Green Action together with Right to the City, several other organizations and many activists started their weekly protest actions and neighborhood gatherings on the site. Gatherings were held every Wednesday for months. The initiative organized a citizen assembly, called all the representatives of political parties to the site, organized media actions and became a gathering point for all other similar initiatives in the city. However, the park was destroyed, but the project is still ongoing in an effort to turn the eastern fringe of the city center into one more generic city space available for commercialization and digestible for the tourist appetite, as the current city administration understands it. The project envisions its next phase as turning an old market place into an organic food market, hence making it even more expensive to live in the city center. The masterplan has gradually changed to accommodate more hotels and furthered the gentrification process of this already rapidly changing part of the city. We will walk the route of the so-called Pedestrian center of excellence, meet the activists involved with the initiative and hear the story of their still ongoing resistance to this change in the city narrative.
15. The City is the Factory? Alliances between labor and the Right to the City movement
🗣️ Tour guide Jelena Miloš
In the early 1990s Croatia underwent a post-socialist transition marked by privatization, deindustrialization and rising social inequalities. This process triggered significant changes in the urban and social landscape of cities, in Zagreb perhaps best illustrated by the decline of the textile industry, which clearly demonstrated the intersecting development of gentrification and transformation of women’s labor.
Textile factories were taken over, mismanaged, relocated and destroyed by real-estate entrepreneurs no longer interested in industrial production but in making a quick profit by turning industrial land into commercial and residential zones, leaving thousands of mostly women workers unemployed. Zagreb’s inner city neighborhoods, previously sites of industrial production, now faced gentrification in part driven by the destruction of its workplaces. While real estate capital formed a front with city authorities eager to support commerical redevelopment and speculative investors by engaging in clientelist practices, new alliances between urban and labor struggles emerged, in one instance uniting a broad coalition of leftwing student organizations, the Right to the City movement, feminist organizations and workers’ collectives. We will visit three former factory sites – DTR, Vesna and Kamensko – where union members and activists will talk about mobilizations contesting neoliberal urbanism and plans for redeveloping former industrial areas.
⛅AFTERNOON TOURS 14:00-17:00 ⛅
Meeting point Brvnara
16. When Church wants to take your park – grassroots initiatives of Savica
🗣️ Tour guide Iva Marčetić
According to the census, Croatia is a country of over more than 90% declared Catholics. One might argue that declaring one’s faith has in the nineties become a question of declaring one’s ethnicity, or rather conforming into the dominant narrative that religion is the same as belonging to a nation. In planning terms this meant that a myriad of churches were built all around the country’s urban centres, disrupting previous planning practices and more often than not taking up municipal land designed for other common uses. Even though churches were built in Yugoslavia’s new housing projects, they were usually placed on the fringes of the housing development, but in the last ten or so years in Zagreb it became evident that the spatial appetites of the Chatolic church in Zagreb somewhat evolved. Together with the City and its Mayor, the Church started to take up central positions in the housing projects, thus inscribing itself onto parks and recreation spaces of neighborhoods built during socialist times. Even though there was resistance in other neighborhoods, one grassroot initiative fought the fight that was recognized beyond the borders of Croatia. The Savica neighborhood and its dedicated local initiative, with the help of activist networks and Right to the City, managed to stop the Church from taking their community’s focal point of leisure. It was a long and interesting fight against ever rising conservatism and the all-encompassing presence of one religion. We will visit the Savica neighborhood where the local initiative will talk about their long journey to save their common space and stop the corruptive practices of the Mayor who colluded with the Church in order to further some other speculative interests.
17. Deindustrialized landscape turned financial district
🗣️ Tour guides Katerina Duda and Matea Grgurinović
The privatization of societal property was followed by the deindustralization on the territory of the city of Zagreb which was once a very dense industrial center. In the golden age of Zagreb’s prosperity, the industrial sector employed over 100 000 people. Surplus produced in those factories during the socialist Yugoslavia was in part used to build large numbers of housing units, predominantly in New Zagreb, thus producing the modern city that we can see today. The process of alienating the means of production via privatization led to the annihilation of the connection between the production of value and the city, as well as the loss of workplaces, resulting in an unprecedented wave of unemployment. Industry has either been destroyed or continued to work at significantly smaller capacity. This process has been a destructive force, with workers’ rights as well as their influence on the politics of firms and in turn the politics of the city, driven to a minimum. In this walk we will take you to the eastern industrial sites that were destroyed or transformed in the transition from socialism to capitalism. This walk will take you through the former manufacturing landscape, the geography of value produced and previously socially distributed in such a way as to provide better conditions for the reproduction of life for working men and women. This landscape was in large part turned into a financial district or is awaiting some other development scheme. During the talk you will hear how it was a site of workers’ struggle, of mobilization of men and women trying to save their factories, a story that is well hidden behind the glass facades of banks and business towers looming over the Radnička (Workers’) street.
18. Fighting for the right to the city – the iconic Varšavska Street fight
🗣️ Tour guide Teodor Celakoski
The Right to the City movement grew when activists, citizens, independent culture organizations and students from the student occupation movement engaged in opposing the biggest city urbanist development at the time, transforming the pedestrian Varšavska Street and its Flower Square. The main idea was to build a shopping mall in central Zagreb, consisting of a retail area, an underground garage and luxury apartments. The Mayor’s office and city planning sectors unanimously supported the private investor, and they had changed the Masterplan without the public’s consent in order to make the huge transformation of the downtown area possible.
The struggle for Flower Square represented the biggest civic disobedience since the beginning of the ‘90s. At one point over 10 000 people were joining the protests, occupying the Flower Square and the surrounding streets. In one of the actions when the construction of the shopping mall started 150 people were arrested in a single day. Today, it still represents a major reference point for the protection of urban and other public goods, but also a turning point for activism against privatization of public and common resources.
Within this tour we will take a short walking tour and later listen to the presentation that will shed more light on the genesis of the Right to the City movement in Croatia. We will present the methods and tools used and explain how they influenced further developments of struggles for the protection of public goods and infrastructure in Croatia and the region.
19. The magic of public-private partnerships (Part 2) – visit to the Arena Zagreb
🗣️ Tour guide Tomislav Domes
On this tour we will visit a grandiose structure at the southwestern entrance to Zagreb. It is allegedly the largest sports hall in the country and it is called Arena Zagreb. Grandiose in appearance, but lacking in content, Arena hardly served any other important purpose beyond the initial one: hosting the 21st Handball World Championship in 2009. Still, we can argue that its purpose lies in the fact that it serves as a vehicle for transferring public money into private firms. Due to the innovation in public finance called public-private partnership, the enormous cost of the investment did not produce any visible public debt. Instead of directly indebting the city or national government, the taxpayers’ money is paid as a yearly fee (over 8m€) to the private partner to cover the costs of his loan installments and, of course, guaranteed high profits. For 17 more years.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the road, another huge, yet unfinished structure remains hidden. The Blato University Hospital, built during the 1980s by the decision that was reached on the referendum, and financed by the crowdfunding of those times – deducting from the citizens’ paychecks. Despite the ten-year effort, the project was abandoned together with socialism. There was no innovation to save it.
20. Waste mismanagement and dirty business – visit to the Jakuševec landfill
🗣️ Tour guide Tomislav Tomašević
Jakuševec is one of the largest waste landfills in this part of Europe and the highest Zagreb “hill” south of the Sava river. The total disregard of household waste separation and recycling policy in the past several decades have built this monument to irrational management of natural and financial resources, whose foul smell also lowers the quality of life for citizens of southern Zagreb. Jakuševec is the most famous waste landmark in Zagreb and Croatia, but it also reveals the story of organised crime in waste mismanagement business that aims to preserve the status quo instead of moving towards more ecologically and financially sustainable solutions. The tour will tell the story of criminal indictments of political corruption in waste management, attempts to privatise the public waste management company Čistoća, shady public-private partnership deals in special categories of waste, the black market of dumping hazardous waste in water protected areas, suspicious periodic fires in private waste management facilities and many other examples of Zagreb’s dirtiest business.
The tour will also visit Hrelić, one of the biggest flea markets in this part of Europe, where the “reuse” concept in waste prevention acquires another meaning, with people selling everything imaginable.