Never-never school is a unique space for community learning and research about cities. We as emerging architects, sociologists and urban planners living and working in the context of Central Europe invite you to Košice, Slovakia. Join us for the first edition of this experiment in co-creation centred on urban visioning and exploration of new utopias.
Never-never focuses on peer-to-peer exchange and transdisciplinarity in order to create a rich learning space for all participants. In the course of the summer school, collaborative learning models and a variety of formats are tested and developed in order to foster collaboration beyond the school’s frame.
The sites of modernist planning present to this date unfinished images of past utopia. Not just images, for they are lived realities for many. A reality often symptomatic of malfunctioning transport, poor public spaces or social exclusion. By revisiting the “Soviet” urban tradition with the concept of utopia, we propose to reconsider the built and the social as well as the problem-solving oriented approach of the past – still all too present today. We try to rethink again the concept of utopia as a form of speculative political action.
Our site of exploration will be a panel suburb (“sídlisko”) Ťahanovce in Košice, Slovakia. The construction of the neighbourhood started in the 80’s but as the regime changed the original plans got never realised. Unfinished structure doesn’t meet the needs of its residents and brought about problems with traffic, crime and non-functional public space.
Can new utopias meaningfully answer the old ones?
During the summer school we proposed three different scenarios for future utopias in neighborhood Ťahanovce. Extrapolated conditions of today helped us understand current state. To share with public, we chose the form of speculated personified drama storytelling.
Tahanovce became an art experiment. In the elections in the early 2000 a group of artists and enthusiasts from Slovakia and beyond organized themselves and voted in a mayor, who was one of them, in order to turn Tahanovce into a place of experiment, art and resilience – a hipster
paradise. It wasn’t difficult to gather enough voters, due to the low participation in the poles. A number of permanent residencies-changes did the trick. The new mayor together with the new residents started a process of radical change. After a successful referendum the neighbourhood separated itself from Kosice and became the youngest (not just in population) town of Slovakia. The village of Tahanovce also joined, as the inhabitants saw in this an opportunity for a long desired financial and operative autonomy. A manifesto was created and the city was turned into a cooperative with a vision and with no cars. Although still part of Slovakia, Tahanovce United found a way to become a place of radical experiment, while building up on its original mythology – a concept that attracted many artists, scientists, thinkers and doers from Europe and beyond, while also pushed out many of its original residents not accepting the new rules. One could say that Tahanovce gentrified itself, but thanks to the high private ownership and a reintroduced collectiveness, the generated value was redistributed among its residents. Those who decided to leave were paid out their share. This tight-knit community is not a place for everyone, but there are plenty of other places in the world and the train station is just a bike ride away.
Autumn 2018. Tahanovce inhabitants feel neglected by the city officials. Problems with traffic, the inefficiency of services have not been solved for decades, and the taxes never seem to be invested back in the district. The disbelief towards public administration is growing and the voices about claiming financial autonomy start to appear with the upcoming elections.
The favourite political candidate asks for gaining autonomy from the city, minimising the taxes, cutting the public intervention and privatisation. Long live Hyper-liberalism!
The free market is a new faith.
Private ownership is sacred.
The laws of the market are valid absolutely.
No social ethics can set the limits to the free market.
To achieve the bright future, cooperatives are dissolved, real estates sold up. Residents seize parking spaces. Everything can be monetized, services such as educational facilities, police, healthcare or transportation are privatized. The local board of representatives is dismissed. Any construction policy is eliminated, development restrictions do not apply. There are no limits to the individual freedom.
It is the year 2084; it is the New Time.
THČ is a result of an initiative that eroded from bottom-up activities of young professionals. Three young women started with small community interventions in order to stimulate social exchange among inhabitants.
Initially, they succeeded with small renovations of unused premises. After gaining attention and support from local inhabitants, they eventually received a financial subvention to start with larger project. It resulted into huge investment in renovation of panel houses. The renovation is run by a local cooperative that uses local woods and other renewable sources in order to insulate the panel houses and
increase the volume of living spaces inside the apartments.
The project is successful not only for the innovative solution it brought to local community as it also created a learning atmosphere and expertise in woodcutting and wood construction. Ťahanovce is now a premium leader in innovations in woodcutting and woodwork technology.
Collective of summer school:
Tereza Haumerová, Viliam Fedorko, Viktória Mravčáková, Zuzana Tabačková, Zuzana Révészová, Lýdia Grešáková, Jakub Havlík, Joanna Lickiewicz, Eva Jenčuráková, Lucie Vrbová, Maroš Juhás, Lynda Zein, Mišo Hudák, Jana Kočková, Katarína Zaťková, Tomáš Jančarík, Alessandro Granata, Juraj Mazák, Karolína Plášková, Katarína Onderková, Zsofi Szöke, Nika Dubrovsky
The summer school was organised by Spolka in collaboration with EASA.sk.
Spolka is a collective of architects, urbanists and sociologists encouraging and supporting people and organisations in the co-creation of their cities.
EASA.sk is a national part of established community of architecture students. EASA (European Architecture Students Assembly) is a platform for cultural and educational exchange. EASA is built up of equal representatives spread throughout the whole continent.
This event was organized with kind support of Tabačka Kulturfabrik, Nadácia Tatrabanky and K13.
Logo and graphic design: Kristína Šebejová
Photography: Imrich Veber