The Community Centre Rojc is a particular “place of civil society,” an alternative urban culture center situated in a small town called Pula, Croatia. In ex- military building on 16.732 m2, Rojc hosts 111 associations with various activities in the range of: culture and art, sport and recreation, children and youth, ethnic minorities, psycho-social work, etc. Building is governed through an innovative model of public-civil management.
Description of the original use
Built in 1870 when Pula was under the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Rojc was a military school during three distinct periods of rule: Habsburg, Italian and Yugoslavian. In 1976 it became a military barracks for the Yugoslav army who eventually left the premises in 1991. During the early 1990’s, the building hosted refugees fleeing the war. As the refugees left, Rojc was occupied by the first squatters many of which were already civil society associations. In 1999, Pula’s town council decided to formalize the existing situation by signing the first “utilization contracts” with the various squatter associations.
Description of conditions for change of use
The army has largely formed the identity of the Pula City, leaving a legacy in the imposing military infrastructure, unique in European terms. Its strategic importance is the reason why its military heritage is so prominent in the city’s built environment. Today, when in the city there is no more army, Pula has become a city marked by empty urban spaces. All the ex-military buildings from the preceding era are today property of the state. There is still no plan for the utilization of of most of them, nor for handing them over to local public administration or other interested actors. They remain vacant and abandoned.
Rojc was one of them. Due to the simple fact that no one switched off the electricity and water supply in Rojc, different artists, activists and associations began to occupy the building, thereby inhaling and inspiring new creative energies.The brand new look and quality of the former baracks is a result of the associations’ own efforts and resources, which they used to renovate their own premises.
In 2008 the people from Rojc unsatisfied with the above mentioned governance situation as well as with the decision making process without involvement of its beneficiaries started the initiative to establish an effective Rojc governance. The main objections were relatedt the irratinal expenditures of funds for building maintenance, and the City of Pula’s lack of both interest and capacity fr cretaing and implementing a design for Rojc’s developoment policy.. They initiate the formation of a common body with the authority of decision-making and the cost control management of Rojc. In 2008 Rojc Coordination was formed, consisting of three Rojc Alliance representatives and three representatives of the City of Pula.
The premises are functional and adapted to the needs and preferences of their uses-they are used as production sites, for sports and recreation, as offices, for presentations, conferences and as clubs. Each association in the Community Centre Rojc has its own premises, but ther is also a common space -the Living room-which is managed by the Rojc Associations Alliance. The 180 m2 common room is located on the ground floor in the renovated space of the former military cafeteria. It represents a multifunctional and freely available space. Today, 110 of the organizations have regular utilization contracts which grants use of the building spaces without financial obligations towards the City of Pula, paying only for their electrical consumption. At the end of 2016. City of Pula adopted a decision about minimal but necessary rent payments for spaces leased to civil society organisations.
Description of the current use
Each of the 110 associations provides the local community with its program. Rojc yearly “produces” hundreds of activities, workshops, concerts, seven festivals. The average daily number of visitors to Rojc is approximately 1000. Festivals, concerts, film screenings, sports and recreational trainings, dance rehearsals and joint programs such as “Actions for Rojc!” and flea market are organised outdoors on internal and large external courtyard with basketball and soccer field, a skate ramp and large free parking area. In addition to managing the common area, Rojc Associations Alliance develops and implements joint programmes and projects, strengthens the capacities and represents the interests of its associations., maintains the Rojc website and Facebook, Twitter page, and publishes the newspaper Veznik-Ljudi iz Rojca. Citizens from all over Istria gather in Rojc working on many diverse themes and activities, each organization on its own, and sometimes jointly.
Together with the City of Pula, which is the legal owner of the building, mentioned associations are managing the Center on the basis of the public-citizen participation model in order to develop more productive forms of co-existence, co-management and co-production. Associations networking, intensive communication and innovative approach in joint decision-making encourages them to create dynamic, hybrid organisational and management model that will be even more effective and professional. Values of this participatory governance model are strengthening participative democracy, good governance and trust building.
Rojc Alliance is the network of NGOs located in Rojc which gathers and represents them, stands for their interests, fosters mutual cooperation and actively works in the community. Rojc Alliance is working on realizing future-envisioned projects such as : green roof, enriching the inner courtyard area, creating Community cafe and Co -designed hostel as well as urban gardening, green and children playground areas. These ecofriendly projects are stepping stone for creating amiable gathering points where people would share their ideas, discuss and get an opportunity to support the further development and growth of the center. This long-avoided and abandoned building entirely change its story into lively and attractive cultural center for everyone who is willing to contribute for better tomorrow.
Every year the City allocates money from the budget to be used for building maintenance and necessary services, which when combined together with revenue from renting the roof to mobile operators, amounts approximately 200.000 EUR. Cost include a door-keeping service, night guards, a cleaning service, insurance, an accountant etc.
Rojc Alliance is developing new future- envisioned projects for sustainability of the centre based on social entrepreneurship.
Every organisations provides their own funds for programme and maintenance of their premises.
This case shows that participatory management model over public good is much more effective than cases when management powers reside in the hands of indifferent, bureaucratically- minded, and often corrupt public administration. Main weakness is the timeliness and inefficacy in executing decisions, and its limited possibilities for public control over public procurement procedures.
This case also shows that in process of establishing new management model one of the key problems was the question of an active fellowship. The establishment of the Rojc Alliance was crucial for the formation of new governance model in Rojc as it is to open the possibility of associations with space benefits for direct management involvement and taking responsibility as a unity.
web page: rojcnet.pula.org
|Timeline of current use||From 1997.|
|Previous uses||Military school and military barracks|
|Where is it, address||Gajeva 3, 52 100 Pula|
|Size||16,739 square meters and 29 180 m2 of surroundings area (without internal courtyard)Surrounding are|