CUPA Workshop Zagreb
The CUPA workshop in Zagreb focused on the Zagreb Fair, which was set up in 1909 to be the venue of an international trade exhibition. The Fair was first extended in the 1950s and the period of growth continued until the 1980s. Due to the industrial fragmentation and demolition caused by the Balkan Wars, the fairground is now split up among a number of exploitation organisations that are all owned by the municipality. Former pavilions now function as a television studio, an ice skating hall, and a tennis court, or accommodate field and roller hockey clubs.
The trade fairground is located at the border of the districts New Zagreb-West and New Zagreb-East, which are defined by a diverse socio-economic, functional and morphological structure. It ranges from family houses and an irregular street structure in the west to a regular grid of short streets and new housing constructions in the north. The banks of the Sava River, the football field and the hippodrome in the north and northeast form green recreational areas and sports facilities. The Zagreb Fair is owned by the City of Zagreb and it hosts 90% of trade fair activities in the country and is therefore considered the “gateway to the Croatian economy” and is renowned for its contacts to non-member countries in SEE.
On the other hand, the competitiveness between the Zagreb Fair and other trade fairs in the region, as well as a lack of modernisation, can be seen as major challenges for the area. Investments aimed at achieving the necessary competitive criteria are therefore relevant. Also, the Fair is detached from the city due to its relative distance from public transport stations and the fences that surround the complex. Nevertheless, the location is considered a valuable resource for the Zagreb Fair due to existing roads, accessibility and route connectivity.
Based on the overall uncertainty of the development of the Zagreb Fair, the City of Zagreb was happy to deploy CUPA’s format and its six considerations for identifying the site’s future potentials. The questions asked included:
- How to develop the (new) recognisability and (new) identity of the Zagreb Fair and what to base it on?
- How to provide sufficient critical mass for the existing and new trade fair activities?
- How to use and promote the considerable architectural and urban heritage?
- Which functions can be combined at the Zagreb fairgrounds that may become new attractions for developers, city residents and other users?
- How could the Zagreb fairgrounds be renovated and maintained without using the additional budget of the City of Zagreb?
The CUPA workshop was considered very successful by the City of Zagreb. Its outcomes were seen as a valuable contribution to further elaborations on the complex revitalisation of the Zagreb Fair area and the facilities with regard to current city procedures and proposals for their improvement.
Activities on the Zagreb Fair strategic project intensified immediately after the workshop, especially during 2014. The City Office for Strategic Planning and Development organized a workshop in September that year, after having received proposals from the potential users, Zagreb Holding and other city administrative bodies. Several concepts for the transformation of the Zagreb Fair area and its functions were formulated based on previously explored transformation options. The input presented at the Zagreb CUPA workshop was exceptionally valuable. Also in the academic year 2014/2015, the students of the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Zagreb focused on the programme concept, the functional research and the design of the Zagreb central city area, including the Zagreb Fair area in on of their urban workshop courses.
In the spring of 2015, the intensive cooperation and consultations between the research team from the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Zagreb and the expert team from the City Office for Strategic Planning and Development resulted in the study “The Zagreb Fair City Strategic Project Guidelines and Facilities Programme”, elaborating the results of the CUPA workshop in more detail and creating a document prescribed by the city’s strategic project implementation procedures. The study is based on the analysis of the former Zagreb Fair spatial development, role and functions, current development problems and needs, successful examples of similar cases worldwide (some of them elaborated during the Zagreb CUPA workshop), previously considered development and revitalization concepts and the suggestions resulting from the Zagreb CUPA workshop. It proposes strategic guidelines for possible transformation concepts and for a facilities programme, as well as for the management and workflow of activities for the city’s strategic project for the Zagreb Fair. In this way, the study is also a model for the consideration and implementation of the city’s strategic projects in general.
In order to promote the activities and to initiate public consultation, an exhibition, which was prepared on the basis of the study, was opened in ZgForum (premises serving for public communication purposes) in early May 2015. The exhibition, organised by the City Office for Strategic Planning and Development, is conceived to present three groups of topics:
- The city’s strategic project for the Zagreb Fair, presenting the current situation, vision and strategic goals, as well as guidelines and a transformation concept and facilities programme;
- The Zagreb Fair, presenting historical and spatial development, plans, architectural competitions as well as possible models and examples of transformation (this topic group also presents the Zagreb CUPA workshop outcomes);
- The works of the students of the Faculty of Architecture.
A questionnaire that functions as an incentive for visitor feedback is also an integral part of the exhibition.
The extensive public consultation and the on-going exhibition will be followed by the preparation of the public architectural urban competition programme, which would also form the basis for looking into opportunities and preparing proposals for applications for EU funds.
In addition to the core activities concentrated on the development of the city’s strategic project for the Zagreb Fair carried out during the period after the Zagreb CUPA workshop, the City Office for Strategic Planning and Development has continued to promote the CUPA project and the outcomes of the workshop through various mediums, e.g. a number of reports including the mayor’s activities’ report 07-12_2013 (submitted to the Zagreb City Assembly); at the Zagreb exhibition Stadtbauen – Beispiele für und aus Wien (opened 3 October, 2013); recently (in April 2015) at a seminar at the EU SINERGY project in Lisbon, where the project Zagreb Fair – Innovative City Centre was presented as a case study.