What if public response
leaks from virtual to physical space? Battle for Varšavska Street*!
May 17th, 2010, almost two years after launching the Glass Peristyle Project,
the quiet Varšavska Street in Zagreb’s city center became a site of mass
destruction. Hundreds of angry people demolished the fence behind which
important public space was being transformed into a private building site.
According to the “development” project, Varšavska Street is planned to function
as an entrance gate to an underground garage which would serve a nearby
shopping mall and luxury apartment complex, also in construction. Spontaneous
collective rage of this kind resulted not just in pure destruction, but also in
the creation of a structure whose demonstrators temporarily inhabited the site
in order to retain public space. Even though the new structure made of folded
parts of the torn down fence was not fixed in space, time or even users (who
fluctuated on a daily basis), it generated a set of urban occasions which made
the diversity of socio-cultural events possible to take place in the public
domain of Varšavska St. (concerts, public readings, performances, social games,
exhibitions). For a short period of time (2 months) Varšavska St. became a
powerful source of socio-cultural production.
This collectively designed environment produced in free time and characterized
by sensation, flexibility and change, undoubtedly recalls utopist visions from
the second half of the 20th century, but also makes a strong link to the logic
of socio-cultural production in the contemporary networked society. As a
complete opposite to the Glass Peristyle project, latter connection could open
a discourse on preventing, analyzing and moderating social processes related to
the crucial issues of urban design in the emerging era of networked, hybrid
*Varšavska Street (Zagreb, Croatia) was named in 1946 as a recognition to the martyrdom of the
Polish capital in the World War II and the Slavic brotherhood in general.
In 2010, during a period of two months,
Varšavska Street has been overtaken by citizens and transformed into the urban
ghetto of resistance and progressive cultural production.