I went into ‘town’ for a drink last weekend, and was nicely surprised at how much had changed. Though I am based only a five-minute walk from Zagreb’s main square, I haven’t ventured out much from our cozy neighbourhood. Let me explain a thing or two about what Zagreb locals mean when they say ‘town’: this refers only to a few hundred meters around the Ban Jelačić Square. Even people who live in the Upper Town, only a staircase away from the Square, find it a trudge when they have to go into ‘town’ in bad weather.
Croats are by nature more settlers than nomads, and are especially fond of keeping to their own turf. But this is just one of the reasons why I set up permanent camp in my neighbourhood. Here, I have everything I need for a happy fulfilled life: there’s galleries, awesome farmers’ markets, a few charming cafes, amazing bookshops and an abundance of great design.
This neighbourhood, with Martićeva Street as its main artery, is home to our exciting new project - Design District Zagreb - that supports the local creative and design scene.
Until recently, this east-central part of Zagreb was home to office and retail spaces mainly related to the slowly dwindling automobile industry. After decades of economic slowdown and general apathy, and just like in other major European cities, the emptied out spaces were slowly taken over by the Zagreb creative community.
Urban regeneration has flourished thanks to people from the creative industries living in and around this micro location. But even in the past, intellectual and creative crowds gravitated to this area, which abounds with superb architecture from the Zagreb modernist epoch and a cosmopolitan, open-minded vibe. So how have things changed? Out went the car parts shops and in came the creatives on their bikes.
The oasis is a hub for designers, architects, artists and civil society NGOs, but without being overrun by luxury brands or apartment catering to the elites. No other place could be a better home for Design District Zagreb - a project I am openly in love with. Stay tuned for more great stuff going on in the city’s most promising neigbourhood.