The complex of former Badel and Gorica factories, located at the intersection of Martićeva and Šubićeva streets, across today’s Kvatrić market, is one of the neuralgic spots of the eastern part of the central city area.
The question of its renovation and conversion has long been an acute issue, becoming a metaphor for the actions towards Zagreb’s industrial heritage renovation. Until the 19th century, the surroundings of today’s Kvaternik square were peripheral to the city, home to the old turnpike — an entrance to the city, and it was only the first horsecar that truly connected Jelačić square to the newly opened Maksimir park. Meanwhile, Vlaška street and Maksimirska road became traffic arteries which enabled eastward spreading of the city, while Kvatrić soon became a key transportation hub.
Due to the development of local industry at the turn of the 20th century, that attractive location became a small zone in which many factories were built. The most durable and important factory among them is ‘Arko’ liqueur and vinegar factory (named after the pre-war owner Mijo Arko, famous Croatian cellarman), renamed into ‘Marijan Badel’ after World War Two (today it is named ‘Badel 1862’ after the original foundation year). Next to ‘Badel’, the block also accomodated ‘Gorica’ metal cookware factory and ‘Elka’ electrical cables factory, before the latter was moved to Žitnjak.
Since the cluster of industrial facilities was actually not suitable for the Lower Town block structure, the factories were gradually moved to the city’s periphery, and at the beginning of the 21st century, Kvatrić was left with an empty and abandoned complex in dire need of revitalization and reinvention. In 2012, the City of Zagreb and the City Office for Strategic Planning and Development of the City announced an international competition with this exact purpose. The first prize of this project was given to Portuguese architects Luis Pedro and Pablo Rebel from the bureau Pablo Pita Architects. However, the reconstruction and renovation has yet to begin, and in the meantime, commercial facilities such as a gym and night club have rented certain spaces and moved in.
The point of origin of an alternative approach to the Badel-Gorica Block problem, i.e. the possibility of its conversion into a space open to the public, based on non-profit principles, was the Operation: City manifestation, organized in 2005 by Clubture civil associations network. Today, the one-week event that gathered the majority of the most interesting protagonists of the civil and art scene in Zagreb and Croatia is considered a crucial moment in consolidating the idea, as well as a pointer for numerous similar projects that later followed in other Croatian towns and cities.