“We have a tendency to live in a balloon that can grow to become our ghetto, which is not good. A man has to sometimes take a tram ride to get a feeling about where exactly he lives. If you just move around your neighborhood, work there, and never go elsewhere, you have a big problem.”
One of the best people to chat about Martićeva and anything related is definitely Zorislav Petrić, a man who knows the history and the present of the neighborhood very well, having lived on several locations in it, and having explored and researched many others from within and without. He works independently as part of his SIVO office, working mostly in interior design, but also cooperating continuously with 3LHD, participating in some of their key projects, like hotel Lone in Rovinj, and others.
On a chilly spring afternoon, we sat for a cup of coffee on the terrace of the cult café in Višeslavova Street and spent more than an hour in a conversation, parts of which we bring you here.
Bojan Krištofić: Where exactly in the neighborhood do you live?
Zorislav Petrić: At the corner of Laginjina Street and Vojnovićeva Street, but I also have an apartment in Višeslavova Street. I came to the neighborhood by chance. I grew up in Masarykova Street, a long time ago, 20th century, but there was my usual territory. However, our place became too big at one point, so my mom bought us an apartment in Domagojeva Street. From my new window I had a view of the architect Vladimir Turina’s building, which I think is great – the one across the street from the high school in Križanićeva Street, the long one, with four entrances and small balconies…
I looked at a place in that building, but then I came here and fell in love with another place overnight, because I really liked its energy. So I bought an apartment bigger than I wanted and came to the neighborhood. I realized how great it is here, since it is so close to the city center, but it isn’t the city center.
I came here in 2000, when nothing much was happening here besides some events in Džamija, but when I began working in my apartment, I had to find a place to live as well. Since I have some experience with apartment hunting, I set myself some parameters. I knew I wanted to go no further south than Šubićeva Street, no further north than Ilica, for example. I was never interested in the Lower Town… I did take a look at the Galić building on Svačić Square, there are great apartments in it, but they were all either too expensive or too big.
Finally, we found a place here, even though it was a mess at first. But its orientation was great. It has a direct view of Vitić Skyscraper, which is currently being renovated. All of our balconies look south, and the opposite side has a view of the small park just in front of Vitić. My kitchen and workroom look north, and my terrace south. Fantastic! It’s actually just a balcony, but I say terrace because it’s as wide as two rooms and is 10m2 in area. In the summer, we sit out and drink, and the door is always open. There’s just enough sun during any season.
BK: Do you think that the Vitić building renovation will be a success?
ZP: You know what, it’s going to be great. The proportions have somewhat changed during the renovation, but there’s nothing anyone can do about it. I always thought Vitić was brilliant, but I couldn’t afford a place there before. It was too expensive then, and it’s too small today, so…
BK: What do you think, is there a general difference in the neighborhood’s population now and before?
ZP: As I said, I came here in 2000, so I might not be an authority on this… However, I still have a feeling that the population is very mixed… There’s people with money, you can see it by the cars parked outside, but there’s people who can’t afford to eat. So there are social differences, but there are also small shops and craft shops, of which there should be many more, because there are a lot of empty locales. I don’t understand why the city would have a policy not to subsidize these places, at least in the beginning. One shop brings in another, one café brings in another restaurant… I see it as the more logical, smarter plan.
BK: Can it be said that this neighborhood is, in a way, the originating place of today’s Lower Town culture?
ZP: It can, but this can fool a person into thinking that this is how everyone lives, that it’s normal. We have a tendency to live in a balloon that can grow to become our ghetto, which is not good. A man has to sometimes take a tram ride to get a feeling about where exactly he lives. If you just move around your neighborhood, work there, and never go elsewhere, you have a big problem. You completely lose contact with reality. When you come out of your neighborhood, you realize that there are other people. I don’t say better or worse people, but different people. Creating a cocoon is not healthy.
BK: Do you think the neighborhood can develop in a way that it does not become a cocoon, but still remains a neighborhood?
ZP: The neighborhood is developing in various directions. We’re all content with the current. Will it appeal to us in the future, that I do not know. Maybe the shell will break and we’ll flee elsewhere, to some other, secure place.