One year after the occupation - in 2007 - the municipality began planning the renovation of the area into a “Creative centre Rog”, putting the emphasis on redeveloping the surroundings in order to build an attractive area for international artists and tourists. With the help of an EU-led project devoted to revitalization of ex-industrial zones, they propose a public-private partnership to renovate the main factory building, the construction of a design hotel, up-standard apartments and commercial programs. The public-private ration is 20-80%. One of the proposals also suggests a relocation of 3 art academies to Rog, but their deans deny it, because of non-defined relations between academic and commercial programs and because they don’t want their students - who are active in the factory - to lose their studios/ateliers. The municipality could never find an investor because of global recession, so they down-scaled the project into an all- publicly financed “centre for architecture, design and visual arts” stressed on developing the creative industries economic sector and helping young designers into entering the labor market.

The community of Rog users criticize the municipal project in the following points:

  • Financially demanding project - There is no guarantee that the municipality will finish the renovation project in the near future. There are enough construction caves in Ljubljana already.

  • Spatially unnecessary - many creative hubs already exist with developed social and business networks in Ljubljana that the municipality can infrastructurally and financially support.

  • Commodification of artistic and cultural practices - economic instrumentalisation, commercialisation, precarious working conditions, low wages and no security for the producers.

  • Gentrification of the city centre - beautification of space, shift of focus from citizens to tourists and consumers, surveillance and prohibition of free use of public spaces, relocation of non-profitable uses and populations, etc.

  • Non-participatory led project - the current users were never included in concept-formation stage of the renovation project and were used only for testing the already formed programmatic and architectural proposal. Just some of them were allowed to give opinions and suggestions which were not even thoroughly considered.

  • Aversion toward grassroots practices - municipal top-down approach is unwilling to recognise the existing practices and unnecessarily creates antagonism between Rog users and professionals working on the project.

  • Right to the city - city users and dwellers contribute to urban dynamics and therefore have a legitimate claim towards city matters.

Why are we not temporary?

We, the users of autonomous Rog factory do not accept the agreement for temporary use because:

  • Existing activities and horizontal mode of organization carry greater potential for further development than the municipal proposal with its rigid organizational structure and commercial orientation.

  • The municipality never provided the minimal infrastructural and technical conditions. The users used their own time, resources and money to secure, maintain and manage the spaces, where the leftovers of poisonous industry still remain.

  • After eleven years of working in voluntary, non-formal conditions, regenerating the area with cultural activities and producing content of public/urban interest, we have a legitimate right to use and manage a property which is legally state owned, therefore should work in public interest.

  • There is no contract or other signed legal document between the municipality and the users. The users were prepared to sign such document, but the city officials refused and therefore prevented legalisation.

We expect the municipality to step down from their project, which we think is doomed to fail, and to recognise the potentials of existing activities and organisational structures. The municipality should provide the minimal infrastructural and physical conditions and should respect the autonomy of the users’ community. The users are capable of further renovation of buildings, providing new contents and managing the already existent and working creative factory Rog.

We do not fight for the preservation of current state of affairs, we are struggling for our future autonomous development!