Metelkova City Autonomous Cultural Center

  • Investor (key institution): Squatters – various alternative interest groups which provided an enormous amount of volunteer work for the upkeep of the altern
  • Contact person: Prof. Dr. Irena Ograjenšek,
  • Year of implementation:
  • Implementation venue

  • Country: Slovenia
  • Region: Osrednjeslovenska regija
  • Town: Ljubljana
  • Size of area: 12500 m2
  • Impact:

    Total costs: EUR

    Source per every institution

    Important stakeholders concerned

    • regional: City Municipality of Ljubljana
    1. Improved provision of local cultural and social events.
    2. Improved support for the development of small business operators in the area of blocks of flats.
    3. Improved attractiveness of the architecture of the socialist buildings.
    4. Identified new functions for structures from the era of socialism in 1945 - 1989).
    1. What forms of cooperation were used as new approaches in the field of rehabilitation and conversion of urban functional areas?
    2. Metelkova City (full name in Slovenian language: Avtonomni kulturni center Metelkova mesto, 'Metelkova City Autonomous Cultural Centre') is an autonomous social and cultural centre in the heart of the capital city of Slovenia, Ljubljana. It is located on the site of the former military barracks which served as the Slovenian headquarters of the Yugoslav National Army, the ultimate symbol of the socialist Yugoslavia. The area was squatted in September 1993 and has been maintaned mostly with volunteer work ever since. The site consists of seven buildings. Most of them originate from the pre-Socialist era but underwent alterations during the socialist period necessary to accommodate the needs of the Yugoslav National Army. The squat is named after the nearby Metelko Street (in Slovenian: Metelkova ulica), which owns its name to the 19th-century Slovenian Roman Catholic priest, philologist, and unsuccessful language reformer Fran Metelko and played an important role in the co-called Slovenian Spring of 1988 which was the first of the major milestones on the road towards Slovenian independence. At Metelkova City a range of activities have been held. These include an art gallery, bars, artists studios, space for designers, offices of cultural organisations and concerts featuring different types of live music from free jazz, heavy metal, noise, to dub and techno. The Metelkova area also features a very popular Youth Hostel called Celica, housed in the renovated building of a former military prison (see e.g.

    3. Was the building or the space between buildings) identified as a valuable socialist heritage?
    4. On August 2, 2006, the Inspectorate for the Environment and Spatial Planning of the Republic of Slovenia demolished one of the buildings, known as the Small School (in Slovenian: Mala Šola), after several previous attempts were successfully thwarted. There are plans to rebuild the school. The whole area is now registered as immobile cultural heritage with the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia.

    5. What criteria were applied to make this judgment?
    6. Primarily the importance of the civic movements hosted within the complex. All other factors are not in favour of such a decision: we are talking about a prime real estate area in the heart of the capital city; naturally the authorities would prefer to see other uses than an alternative autonomous cultural centre.

    7. Was the building or space between buildings) important to local communities and how were they involved in decision-making process about its rehabilitation or conversion?
    8. The area is very important to the local alternative cultural scene and also hosts a number of alternative movements (e.g. lesbian and gay rights movement, anti-racist movement … ). Because of this it was targeted by a group of Nazi-Skinheads in 1994 whereas the local community arranged itself with the going-ons in the complex (especially the small businesses).

    9. Were attempts made to improve territorial cohesion within the city/town/district? And, if so, how was success on this front gauged?
    10. Not so far but the fact that authorities have been tolerating the squat for almost two decades now is encouraging. Also encouraging is the fact that the formerly closed military area is now open to general public.

    11. Were there attempts to reduced disparities between districts within cities/towns achieved reduced? And, if so, how was success on this front gauged?
    12. Not so far but the fact that authorities have been tolerating the squat for almost two decades now is encouraging. Also encouraging is the fact that the formerly closed military area is now open to general public.

    13. Other important facts and comments, e.g. critical review.
    14. From the Story of Metelkova (see URL in the Supplement) we learn about the important role Metelkova has been playing when it comes to alternative civic movements. We learn that Metelkova as a cultural centre was first conceived in 1990 when the Network of Metelkova was formed and 200 partner organisations came together to propose a new, creative, peaceful use for the former military barracks. In 1991, following the Ten Day War for Slovenia’s independence and consequent the Yugoslav People's Army's withdrawal from the site, the Network for Metelkova petitioned the newly independent Slovenian government for rights to the space. Favoring a car park or other new urban development over a rogue hippie commune, the City of Ljubljana decided in 1993 to demolish the old, unmaintained buildings. The Network of Metelkova and friends responded by squatting the site on September 10th, 1993 and creating 'Metelkova Mesto' - an independent (anti)cultural centre. Over 200 individuals got down to business creating living spaces, setting up concerts, exhibitions, readings and other events. Unable to extract the compound's new occupants, city officials responded by cutting off the water and electricity to Metelkova Mesto ('Metelkova City') and filing legal suits against its inhabitants. It seems, however, that the new challenges only served to bolster the strength of the community, however, and Metelkova began to thrive more than ever before as a centre of cultural, political and artistic activity. Although the future survival of the Metelkova community is still uncertain, it is now commonly agreed that a European capital city needs an area in which autonomous cultural and social movements can flourish. Metelkova as an internationally-renowned alternative culture community in the centre of Slovenia's capital, often draws comparisons to Copenhagen's Kristiania. Dedicated to organising social and cultural activities for the public, Metelkova has a nonstop events schedule and is arguably the best after-dark destination in Ljubljana, serving both local population and tourists. Additional web links: The Story of Metelkova: Registry of Cultural Heritage:


    There are more than 6 000 people living in Dědina block of flats. The whole revitalization 3 -phases -process took 4 years and the total cost of the project was 11 200 000 EUR. It is one of the first completely reconstructed block of flats as far as the public spaces in Prague are concerned.

    Web site: