On the initiative of the ‘Novi Sad 2021 – European Capital of Culture’ Foundation, a public discussion on future development of the former ‘Petar Drapšin’ factory, known as the Chinese Quarter, was held in the ‘Fabrika’ Student Cultural Centre today. Numerous citizens and representatives of various associations led an open discussion about the plan to transform this space into a new cultural and creative centre of the city by 2021, when Novi Sad will be European Capital of Culture.
– Led by the vision of reintegration of Novi Sad and Serbia into European cultural life through cultural dialogue, we initiated the public debate using absolute inclusion, both of expert public and wide public, and respecting principles of democracy and transparency in order to make a joint strategy for improvement of this space, as well as mechanisms for creating solutions in terms of its use and its architecture – said Nemanja Milenković, CEO of the Foundation and leader of the team that won the title of European Capital of Culture thanks to the plan for revitalisation of Chinese Quarter and its transformation into cultural-creative centre of the city.
During the public discussion, we could hear remarks regarding the future use of the former factory complex, as well as regarding the status of current users of certain spaces after its reconstruction. Those whose activities do not fall into cultural and creative sector, and who use factory objects that are owned by the City of Novi Sad, will be offered other spaces in accordance with the work they do. The conclusion of the team of independent experts, who recently conducted the analysis of the infrastructure in this former factory complex, was that as much as 71% of the objects are not safe. The analysis confirmed that only four objects are in very good conditions, another six are in good condition, and four objects from the cadastral documentation do not even exists.
Out of the total surface, 62% is not used or there are no activities in these objects. Out of the total number of objects, 21.3% are empty, 23.14 are storage spaces, and 8.3% are objects that are illegally used or that are closed by the court. When it comes to objects used for production or services, the dominant are workshops (29.6%), objects related to sports activities (3.7%) and catering services (2.8%). Out of 32 workshops, as much as 62.5% are utility crafts and none of them are old or art crafts. Cultural activities comprise only 9.2%, and they are organised by four cultural institutions, three ateliers, three music studios, one theatre and two objects for cultural and artistic events.
Since the plan for revitalisation of the so-called Chinese Quarter has been drafted, the public debated the alleged privatisation and change of use of the land, and representatives of the ‘Novi Sad 2021 – European Capital of Culture’ Foundation stressed that this was denied multiple times by the decision of the City Assembly and Institute for Urbanism which states that under no circumstances there will be allowed to construct, adapt, change purpose, or use the space in residential or commercial purposes.
The conclusion of the open discussion was that there is currently lack of suggestions by relevant expert associations related to the solution for the so-called Chinese Quarter, while at the same time citizens individually show initiative and interest for revitalisation and suggested solutions of the creative district. The Youth Creative Polis project will attract and concentrate various cultural and creative industries in one place. At the same time, Novi Sad will get new tourist destination characteristic for modern European cities.
The research has confirmed the following: Citizens want new identity and restoration of the quarter
The so-called Chinese Quarter does not have clear identity – this was the conclusion of the research conducted by the ‘Ninamedia Research’ on the territory of the city of Novi Sad from 24 July until 9 August this year, on the sample of 803 respondents. When asked if they have heard about the so-called Chinese Quarter, 75% of citizens of Novi Sad said yes, but when asked about their association with this place, almost 63% could not give an answer. As much as 17.6% answered with Chinese people, and circa 3.7% stated ‘neglected, dirty’ as their answer. As much as 92.7% of the respondents assessed negatively the current state and technical safety of the objects in the Quarter, while 64.6% of the citizens of Novi Sad believe that the existing objects should be renovated and adapted for youth sector, cultural and creative contents, with preservation of the current architectural identity of this industrial heritage.