Bazen / Swimming pool was built in fifties in the centre of Municipality of Vrhnika. It was a meeting point public and social life of citizens. Its most important function was cohesiveness of ethnically diverse population. New legislation and higher sanitation standards ended its function in 2005.
In autumn of 2012 Humanist and arts society “O” was established, after we organized a concert in swimming pool in summer that year. Next year we organized Echoes from the poll performance. The idea of transforming empty pool into a summer open space venue was manifested. Then year after year new projects, programmes, citizens, NGO’s started organizing events, including municipality’s public institution.
The leading figure is Žiga Gruden, former president of Humanistic and arts society “O”. De iure manager Zavod Ivana Cankarja Vrhnika, did not block the process and helped to make small steps forward. The owner Municipality of Vrhnika did the same. The position of activists is, that the pool is free to use to any citizen, NGO’s or/and public institution, who is willing to organize cultural or/and art event. Commercial profit making and valueless parties without social, aesthetic or/and communal merit are not acceptable.
The social cohesive function of swimming pool (although without water) is still the main guideline. The pool already hosted all the segments of art and cultural creativity: music, theatre, dance, cinema, fine art exhibition, graffiti, performance, literature, lectures, etc.
Managing the public space and empty and devastated cultural heritage buildings in public ownership is the main problem in Municipality of Vrhnika. De iure manager Zavod Ivana Cankarja Vrhnika is a defunct public institution, while the owner Municipality of Vrhnika with its Department of space planning has a rigid, status quo orientated and inactive policy. Citizens, NGO’s and some public regional and state partners are pursuing a new public space policy. Our struggle is thus political. The use of the building by citizens and NGO’s has weak legal foundation. Should we get international attention and support, we hope to change not only municipal but also state policy. In 2018 Vrhnika will be in the centre of attention, because state declared 2018 a year of Ivan Cankar, most iconic Slovenian writer, born in Vrhnika.
Municipality of Vrhnika as well as Zavod Ivana Cankarja Vrhnika have plans to demolish the building and make one more gym with commercial stores. It is fortunate that economic crises stopped large scale investment. People and NGO’s and some state partners are working on process of making it a summer public venue. Policy of executed facts, rich and versatile cultural and art programme, is gradually changing positions of municipality and local institute. If the building ever will be utilised for sport it can only be a swimming pool.
Common name: Swimming pool Vrhnika / Bazen Vrhnika
Organization managing the building: De iure: Zavod Ivana Cankarja Vrhnika, de facto: citizens, artists, NGOs from Vrhnika, Slovenia
Owner of the building: Municipality of Vrhnika, Slovenia
Location: Vrhnika, Slovenia
Unvacant since: 2005