Formerly the first planned industrial zone in Novi Sad, and today an urban centre of contemporary creativity, the District, is a space that has a turbulent past, intertwined with turbulence and decisive moments for the city. It is in this area, which extends to 11,000 square metres, that the testimony of past times meets the living pulse of creativity, replacing the long-forgotten sound of machines with new rhythms of artistic creation. The revival of the District, one of the legacies of the European Capital of Culture project, represents not only the transformation of space but also the basis for future changes, which are of crucial importance for the achievements of the city. However, in order to truly understand the depth and importance of this artistic quarter, it is necessary to look into its past.
If you have not yet had the opportunity to visit the multimedia permanent exhibition Spirit of Place – A Century of the District, it is the right time to get acquainted with the centenary story. The exhibition is located in the Fabrika 2 facility, and you can visit it every day except Monday and Tuesday, from 4 p.m. gto 8 p.m.
The District carries the narrative of centuries of turmoil, which shaped the space in surprising ways. From the establishment of the factory, through World War II and NATO bombing, to the European Capital of Culture, the exhibition depicts turbulence and changes in society, the tragic fate of the innocent, chaos, hope and cacophony of a time. In the past century, the District was a witness to an unsuspected pogrom in 1942, the anniversary of which was marked last month, and by visiting the exhibition you will witness, among other things, the heartrending story of a mother who talks about the lost lives of her children. The era of the most important industrial zone in Novi Sad is represented by a symbolically imposing hammer, whose impact on a concrete pillar brings to life on the screen the historical path of the famous Braća Kramer Factory – unique in the Kingdom of SHS. You can read the story of Gyula and Károlyi, the pioneers of the industry in this area, as well as their fate, in this text on our website.
The spirit of the place is revived by the preserved objects, witnesses of the mentioned events, which represent the material heritage of the city, and we invite you to take a walk around the District.
Proizvodnja: At the very entrance to the District, you will first be charmed by the installation of the letters Distrikt, by Jugoslav Sivić, which weighs as much as two tons. Murals by the artists Artez, Nataša Konjević and Pablo Astrain are displayed along the entire building, symbolically representing the industrial development of the place. From a former production facility, today the space is a real facility for culture. Numerous artistic events implemented before and during the ECoC title year, until today, make the space the epicentre of the city’s alternative scene.
Radionica: A series of as many as eleven buildings in the District that make up Radionica were built for the purpose of making wire products. In the 1990s, within the former Petar Drapšin industrial complex, as many as 32 workshops of various trades were located here – from locksmithing to carpentry, auto-mechanics, tinsmithing, plumbing, metal turning, workshops for making tarpaulins, manufacturing boats and many others.
Today, the space is a gathering place for independent artists (current users of the renovated studios are Tadija Janičić, Petar Mirković and Boris Lukić). Workshops have transformed, providing a home to alternative music clubs and new forms of expression. The place is currently the home of the only institution in Europe for the production of artistic tapestries, Atelje 61, where exhibitions are often held.
Fabrika: Built in the fifties of the last century as a part of the wire factory complex, Fabrika is a legacy of long-standing traditions preserved by the iconic SCCNS Fabrika, as well as the French Institute in Novi Sad, which is located in one of the premises. With six street and eight courtyard spaces, the impressive building offers space for art and is now home to a multimedia permanent exhibition on the District’s centennial.
In the heart of Fabrika is the Office for Cooperation with Civil Society, established in December 2021, the very year when Novi Sad received the European Capital of Culture title. The position and scale of Fabrika are excellent for programme and conceptual use, since it has a large integrated space that can host numerous visitors. Fabrika offers an inexhaustible source of possibilities, space transformation and adaptability to various programme events, which makes it a unique place in Novi Sad.
Biro: Back in 1923, the Bureau for Architecture, Industrial Construction and Land Surveying, a reputable company founded by prominent architect Mihajlo Plavec and renowned engineer Aleksandar Schumacher, was established in this place. Their vision and expertise marked the boom of the construction industry in Novi Sad between the two world wars, when the city underwent an intense transformation, during which the city was parceled out, as well as the formation of new urban quarters, among which Great Liman, to which today’s District belongs. Under the leadership of Plavec and Schumacher, these spaces were not only built, but became symbols of progressive urban development, woven into the foundations of the city.
Menza: Did you know that in 1947, as part of the industrial zone, a canteen for workers was built where up to 110 meals were prepared every day? Originally, immediately after the liberation, the first canteen was built for the Fabex workers (the factory was then named Petar Drapšin), but its function was not limited only to the Fabex workers; workers from other factories such as the screw factory, Jugopetrol and many others also gathered there, making it the heart of a community that bravely built itself from the ashes of the post-war period.
Čeličana: The facility was part of the Braća Kramer factory, which produced steel mesh and other products. Today, the District is also rich with this preserved building, which cherishes the memory of its former purpose with its interior, and aspires to be the largest new media gallery in this area.
YCC OPENS: On the site of the building there used to be a carpentry workshop called Umetnost, and today it is a Youth Centre in the heart of the District, which provides support to young people through various programmes. OPENS was created back in 2016, when the City of Novi Sad won the title of Youth Capital of Europe 2019. Being the holder of such a title meant implementing a large number of programmes for young people, which is how the OPENS Youth Association was born.
Odmaralište: The Braća Kramer factory produced iron beds, folding beds and wire mattresses in this facility. The place later housed Elan, a ski repair workshop named after the Slovenian manufacturer of these sports equipment, with a tradition spanning seven decades, and after that, the well-known restaurant Davna Vremena. As rest was an important part of workers’ life, Odmaralište is a tribute to facilities throughout the former Yugoslavia that were intended for social tourism and were part of social integration.
Cinkara: Cinkara and Gvožđara were part of the same complex that was built in 1926 as the oldest part of the industrial zone. The galvanizing workshop was intended for hot galvanizing, i.e., steel structures were immersed in a zinc solution at a temperature of 430-460 degrees Celsius. On the territory of Great Liman, galvanized wire, cloth and knitting made of galvanized wire were produced by the factories Braća Kramer, Fabex and Petar Drapšin. Today, the facility together with Gvožđara forms the largest unit of the District, with as many as 11 independent spaces for creative and cultural industries. Iron objects such as stoves, irons, kitchen scales, iron presses, grape presses, parallel mangels and others were made here. In 1922, the Vojvođanska Livnica was founded, then in 1937, the Novosadska Livnica, thus Gvožđara inherits a long tradition.
Skladište: In 1927, the facility called Skladište was built within the Braća Karmer factory. It was located near the railroad tracks to facilitate storage.
Czech Magazine: The oldest building in the District was declared a cultural monument in 2001. The Czech Magazine was built on the territory of Great Liman in 1921. It served as a warehouse for agricultural products that Czech merchants bought in Vojvodina and transported northward along the Danube. Industrial goods were brought from the Czech Republic for the needs of Jugočeška—a large Yugoslav-Czech textile company. The building is a witness to the rich trade and industrial cooperation that marked the history of the area.
Lančara: In 1932, the Kramer brothers received permission from the City Mayor to expand their factory to another department, and thus the department for making chains was opened, and Petar Drapšin and Fabex would continue to perform this activity later.
Photo: ECoC Archive