Source: eKapija | Friday, 08.08.2014.| 09:30
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Can Serbian village be saved? - Young architects from the country and abroad offered solutions of sustainable survival in rural areas

Despite the fact that the price of richland in Vojvodina goes up to EUR 20.000 per hectare, villages are gettingemptier. Numerous owners sell their households all around Serbia at symbolicprices for only a few thousands euros. Students of architecture from the wholeworld who gathered in Mokrin,a village in the north of Banat triedto present through their ideas what kind of conditions could keep young people inrural environment.

International Workshop ofArchitecture 2014 gathered students from Serbia, Italy, China, Israel, Columbia,Venezuela, Hong Kong, Australia and they all saw Vojvodina villages and had a chance to work on projects andpresent ideas for rehabilitation of one of them, Stasa Radmilovic, ,a workshop organizersays for eKapija.

Exploring both Serbia and abroad,Stasa says, she saw the problem of abandoning villages is present everywhere witha difference that they deal with the problem abroad and we do not.

-My colleague. Marijana Zoric and I, realizedthat the workshop should be related to the topic of village abandoning inSerbia. More precisely, to be an event whose objective is not only educationand training of young architects but also awareness boost of the public andexperts in our country.

In only 5 working days, workshopparticipants were working on rather complex projects. The results proved thatone of the ways for village rehabilitation is program solution – creation a ofa line of activities, i.e. village branding through mentioned programs.

-Therefore, we decided to deal with village branding and creation of programswhich would result that every village in Serbia becomes a unique destination aswell as economical entity on a micro level - Radmilovic explains.

We are presenting a few students’ ideas for Grgeteg villagerevitalization, near the same monastery in Fruska gora.

"Food is my religion" -authors:Vladan Peric and Melanie Acosta

The beginning of this project originatesin the village history. The village was set up around the monastery with thesame name with an objective to cultivate monastery land and thus provide foodfor monks and nuns. Today, after socialist and democratic regime, the bondbetween the monastery and the village disappeared. The project objective isreconnection of the village and monastery where these two entities would becomecompletely equal in their newly-set up relation.

On the other hand, observing thevillage and its natural potentials, this team concluded that agriculturalplants cultivated here are “golden mine”. Their project basis is the principleof zero kilometers where they decrease expenditures and increase income.

Connection with the monastery is achievedthrough food. Food becomes religion and preparation and consuming becomerituals.

The culinary school became the focusof the project which was further developing from the concept to the complexprogram. This kind of program, on the one hand, stimulates production and work inagriculture and on the other hand it provides an option of tourism development.In order to practically stick out this school compared to others, it waspointed out it is zero kilometers school of cooking.

Students of different age come tothe village, stay there for some time, however, for the program happening inthe village, although newly-populated with population often changing, the villageis no longer vacant.

This way, differences between a monasteryand a village no longer exist.

Programs are distributed in the villagein such a manner that users (farmers, nuns, monks, students) have to passthrough the entire village on daily level where they mix and become users ofthe same spaces. Practically, strict division and hierarchy which once existedis lost.

Public spaces which the village has never even had were created around the programs. They correlate throughpedestrian paths and practically lead visitors from one facility to another.

In spatial sense, a program (function) can be distributed in two facilities and vice versa, two programs into one facility. This way, completely new technologies are created compared to the ones which we know at the moment since two functions share the same space.

The project exploits full potential of Grgeteg as well as elements already existing at this location. The project enables promotion and support to the village, using potentials which are already there so that better and higher life standards would be enabled as well as brighter future.

"Grgtech" - authors: Rastko Nozinic and Giulia Temin

Grgeteg is a typical example of the placecaptured and lost in time with only a few remaining farmers while the youth abandonedsuch a place long time ago searching for a better life and brighter future.

The unique nature, healthy and quietlife, old Vojvodina-style village houses, village morphology are only some ofthe values and features of the village this team wants to develop.

In order to do it, these studentsthink it is necessary to create an encounter and combination of two different timesand environments – one with a calm rural life and the other one which would be interesting,fun and exciting world of modern technologies and digital management.

They realized that these two completelydifferent contexts are actually compatible. The first environment provideshealthy working environment, cheap rent of already abandoned facilities and qualityland convenient for different explorations. On the other hand, the world oftechnologies provides new social mix, supports digital management through differentapplications, games and wireless systems.

Land is cultivated and treats throughapplication and game which, following the users’ moves, suggests next steps,etc. Rural life this way becomes something new, interesting and attractive.

In this project, a modern digitaltechnology company “moves in” the village, in abandoned houses all around thevillage and this way provides a healthy environment for the work on researchesand creative processes. Just like a digital parasite, it slowly changes Grgetegin cyber space, creating new spots for encounters, options and similar.

Physical interventions in space which remind as if theywere a digital creation make a new landscape and an impression about thevillage, however, they stick to themorphology of the village, not remitting the harmony.

And at the end, the mix of these tworealities enables a true revival through higher productivity, knowledge, new brandingthrough new interests and digital network connecting similar contexts.

"PermaVillage" - authors:Maria Egorova and Alessandra Girotto


The group found a solution in the PermaCultureorganization (sustainable way of life) and took over their model and tried toapply it on the village. Girls from the group had an objective of brining theirtarget group, the youth, to the village through new lifestyle in Grgeteg whichwould be based on culture, education and self-sustainability.

The model they took over,PermaCulture, which was applied on this team’s project practically must containa few aspects the Grgeteg village definitely fulfills – incredible naturalfeatures, nearness of urban tissue of Vojvodina towns, large number ofabandoned houses which can be rehabilitated and reused, cultural heritage,tradition and other similar things.

In order to make the system work,the team diversified two different groups of actors in such a system –investors, young volunteers both from Serbia and other parts of the world andlocal population.

On the other hand, activities of thePermaVillage system are also split in three groups where one deals withagriculture, other with populating and the third one with art. The task andobjective of the first one is to take care about land, harvests, cattle as wellas about rehabilitation of abandoned houses in Grgeteg. This stages runs with thesupport of the mentioned volunteers who cooperate with the local population andorganizers.

The objective of the third group isrequalification of space through art, i.e. organization of public spaces which practicallydo not even exist in the village, creation of different events which willhappen there and where a part of them will happen for artistic installationsinstalled there. The entire process goes through a couple of applicationstages. So, the essence of this project is that this group connected the systemin the village to a wider system and in a way that Grgeteg makes a reallyimportant part of it.

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