An Evaluation of Župa / A look into the Future
by Amalia Ruiz-Larrea, Finn Brüggemann and Nuriye Tohermes

Our work on Župa had a performative character as it intended to create images of gathering that can easily be understood by everyone. We used every-day activities to bring people together: cooking and eating, watching movies, making music, discussing and playing games. Activities that are easily accessible and that build a foundation for exchange with others.

The location and the atmosphere make Župa a place where you like to stay. People like to meet by the water. Long before the boat arrived at its current destination, the Sava riverfront was a place for exchange. The beach, which attracted young and old until the 1940s, was replaced by concrete. Today the waterfront is cut off from Savamala by traffic, train lanes and buildings.

Župa is neither a public nor a private space, which gave us lots of freedom to act, as our doing was always perceived differently (for instance by the police): Is this art? Is this a political action? Is this a dinner?

On Župa we were able to determine our own rules.

Looking form the waterfront the Župa can be perceived as a stage. The images of gathering that are created on board can be seen clearly from the land, while not adopting characteristics of a panopticum. We utilized this filmic character of the Župa for our work.

By working together with Nicola Markovic, one of the founders of the new association that will work on the boat in the future and by talking with participants of the happenings, the following ideas for the future use of the Župa have developed:

The aim of the association is to create a community center on the Župa. It will host cultural events such as theater, discussions and exhibitions, as well as creating a gathering place for everyone.

Groups that are active in Savamala and other initiatives will make Župa a playground for their ideas and will host events and actions in the community center. In this way, the influence of what happens on the boat will be divided and responsibilities will be shared.

For example:

  • There is an interest of creating a community-garden on one of the decks. This could work independently of other activities on the boat.
  • The Lovers of Savamala association already organizes community-cooking events, they would like to use the Župa as a venue.
  • Movie nights can be organized by the Illegal Cinema collective, which regularly screens movies in Savamala.

In the long run, hosts could function as caretakers and curators. In cooperation with the cultural exchange program initiated at the Studio KM8, some of the rooms at the lower deck could be renovated as sleeping rooms – free accommodation for newcomers in exchange for organizing a program on the Župa and minor maintenance work.

In general, we believe that such a project will only be sustainable if jobs are created and the project is not dependent on outside funding sources.

One could imagine a fish stand that could provide the Župa association with income. Fishermen who fish on the Župa could sell catch directly to the stand. This would provide the fishermen with additional income and it would be a way for Župa to become a self-sustainable platform. Here we find it important to highlight that the Župa should not become a commercial enterprise. There are a lot of boats in the Sava that serve mere entertainment or commercial interests. What Savamala needs is a community space, not another discotheque or restaurant!

We propose to maintain the structure of the Župa and to install only the most necessary infrastructure (water, sanitation and electricity). All other additions should have a temporary character to leave space for as many possibilities of usage as possible. The design of architectural additions, such as a rain cover / sun protection are determined by the users’ desires. According to our experience, the most lasting designs can be made if the users of it are integrated in the design process from the very beginning. It is important that the future users of the Župa also build the equipment that is needed, so that the users themselves can carry out repairs and responsibility and a (non-restrictive) feeling of ownership will develop.

We worked on Župa and treated it as an informal platform, which permitted us to play around and materialize our ideas and to think of the possibilities of space given by the informality in Belgrade. We used Župa as a gathering space on which locals can be met and which makes locals meet. We started networks, which hopefully will develop further. We leave Župa and Belgrade hoping to be coming back and encountering this space – why not many others – actively used and performed by Belgrade’s communities.


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