“It is important for local contents to meet the needs of everyone — those who work in the neighbourhood, those who live here or those who just drop by occasionally.”
One of the increasing number of Zagreb’s architectural offices that have found its home in Martićeva and its surroundings is MVA (mikelić vreš architechts), complementing the ever stronger creative axis of the neighbourhood. The bureau was founded in 2007 by the younger generation architects Marin Mikelić and Tomislav Vreš, after they had gained professional experience in several Zagreb offices (M.) and freelance work (V.). Since its foundation, the office has continuously dealt with projects of different scales and typologies, ranging from individual housing and tourism to the social and public spheres. In 2012, MVA was awarded the Viktor Kovačić Annual Award for the most successful realization in all areas of architectural creation and a special recognition at the 47th Zagreb Salon for their Well Hotel project in Terme Tuhelj. It could be concluded off-hand that what attracts many architects to this neighbourhood is its permanently modern architecture, but every interview with professionals reveals some new details we were not aware of.
Marin Mikelić and Tomislav Vreš: The first address where we opened our office and spent the first four years was in the Foundation Block in Frane Petrića street. It was a small space on the second floor, overlooking the peaceful inner space of the block, from which you could come down for a coffee in the most vibrant part of the city in just ten seconds. When we decided to move due to enlargement in 2011, we searched for a space in the whole wider area of the city centre. Among several options we were considering, we chose this neighbourhood very quickly because it was the only one with the “urban atmosphere” of the kind we enjoyed at our previous address. It could be said that the choice of our address was a combination of conscious choice and circumstances.
This is a very lively and pleasant neighbourhood, although it is located in the centre of the city, and it is special precisely because of its atmosphere. This small space combines two things that are virtually uncombinable — the atmosphere and “tradition” of the typical Lower Town ambiance on the one hand, and the contemporaneity and airiness of the post-war modernism on the other hand. The diversity and stratification of the city structure itself is undoubtedly a contributing factor — the most interesting parts are those built in the 1950s and 1960s, where block structure becomes more open and more freely interpreted, like Laginjina street next to the Vitić skyscraper or the park next to Biankinijeva street. Naturally, there is the architecture itself, from Kovačić to Ibler and Vitić… We have recently come across an interesting piece of information about Martićeva street — when Kovačić was building the stock exchange building and the square in front of it at the beginning of the 20th century, he shaped them as a new door to a new neighbourhood that was at the time called — Novi Zagreb (New Zagreb).
— We were interested to find out in what way Mikelić and Vreš’s personal and professional life has changed since they have been working in Martićeva (if at all); if space influenced the people staying in it to that extent.
M.M.: Although I don’t live in this part of the city, since we have been working in Martićeva, most of my everyday private and business activities have slowly started to become attached to this neighbourhood and its immediate surroundings. Everything seems at the tip of your fingers from here. I sometimes feel like I am here the whole day, while I only go to my apartment in another part of the city to sleep.
T.V.: When we moved to Martićeva, the distance between my apartment and the office increased compared to the old office address, so I got a bicycle practically as soon as we came here (naturally, in one of the numerous bicycle shops in the neighbourhood). Since then, I have been riding my bicycle almost every day.
M.M. and T.V.: We spend most of the day at the office, so we don’t get around the neighbourhood much. Nice places for having coffee are definitely Finjak in Vlaška and Divas in Martićeva. There are also the indispensable cakes from Mak na konac… However, we see that the neighbourhood has already started transforming just the way it should — in the direction of the so-called creative production in every sense. Although that is perhaps more a result of spontaneous interventions rather than a plan, spaces that were empty until recently are turning into new interesting places and a new identity of the neighbourhood seems to be created gradually. However, this is a mere start; in order for it to fulfil its potential, the neighbourhood needs a lot more contents from different creative areas — art, design, trade, fashion, gastronomy… It is important that the contents are diverse and meet the needs of everyone — those who work in the neighbourhood, those who live here or those who just drop by occasionally. Whether it is about permanent or temporary contents, diversity is key for the liveliness and identity of the neighbourhood.
Martićeva creates this positive vibe and that is why we enjoy working here.