Tovarna Rog

Turning a former bike factory into a creative hub

The Rog bicycle is a Slovenian classic. Production was halted in 1991, but the 21st century has seen old bikes being patched up and gaining popularity. The old site of the bike factory, however, had long seen a different path. Abandoned and useless, it had been lying vacant for fifteen years, therefore the informal TEMP group decided to take the initiative and call for action. Since then it developed into a cultural and social centre that is used by artists and other cultural producers day and night.

The former factory site is located in downtown Ljubljana, right at the Ljubljanica river. Prompted by the inactivity of the city government concerning the disused buildings, the TEMP group aimed to change the function from factory to cultural centre. Not by a ‘traditional’ squat, but by temporarily altering the purpose of the space. Its goal is to open the 7000 square meters premise to non-profit groups and individuals seeking to produce cultural and social content, until the Ljubljana city government finds a new destination for the old factory site.

In this sense, Tovarna Rog is to be distinguished from the well-known Metelkova Mesto project in Ljubljana. Metelkova is located in a former military complex, where squatters created an ‘autonomous cultural zone’ in 1993 open to anyone. An important part of the Tovarna Rog initiative was to involve the local community and make the dysfunctional space accessible to them again. Since 2006, the Rog users have initiated projects in film, graphic and visual art, music, dance, contemporary art and technical workshops, amongst other things.

In 2010, the city government reclaimed the space and joined the Central European initiative Second Chance, which aims to transform the factory site into a cultural centre with high-end art shops, educational facilities and other more commercial activities. Rog, however, is today still standing as a social hub, hosting a concert hall, skate park, ateliers and studios.

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