Urban Alternatives is launched by a collaboration of different actors which are united in their efforts to create a more democratic, just and sustainable world. This map seeks to highlight initiatives that work towards this goal. Proposal for initiatives not listed yet can be made directly on the website. This process is open to new collaborations.


Avtonomna Tovarna Rog

Citizen Participation Mechanism

What challenges did this initiative look to address?

One year after the occupation - in 2007 - the municipality began planning the renovation of the area, intended to transform it into a “Creative centre Rog”, emphasising the need for the redevelopment of the surroundings in order to build an attractive area for international artists and tourists. With the help of an EU-led project devoted to revitalization of ex-industrial zones, they proposed a public-private partnership to renovate the main factory building, the construction of a design hotel, high standard apartments and commercial programs. The municipality was not able to find an investor because of global recession, so they down-scaled the project into an all- publicly financed “centre for architecture, design and visual arts” based on developing the creative industry sector and on helping young designers to enter the labour market. The community of Rog users criticizes the municipal project with regard to the following points: it is a financially demanding project, spatially unnecessary, it involves the commodification of artistic and cultural practices, causing gentrification of the city centre, it is a non-participatory led project, shows aversion towards grassroots practices, opposes right to the city.

In the summer of 2016 the municipality tried to clear the factory with the use of security guards. In preparation for such an event and in reaction to it, a mass of people gathered and threw out the security guards from the premises of the factory. The whole event and its aftermath was covered by extensive national media coverage, especially the two month barricade occupation of the factory as well as the cultural and political festivities.

What has changed?

Today, there are around 15 organized collectives and around 200 individuals active in the factory in 30 spaces that are relatively self-sufficient and autonomous. The community is bound together through assembly which is the main political body following the principle of direct democratic decision making and consulting. The activities taking place in Rog can be summarized as: artistic and cultural production, recreational activities, activism, social and music events, handy craft etc…

How did it happen?

Despite the municipal efforts to block or disable the grassroots activities (refusal to sign the legal contract for at least a temporary use, and not allowing the community to tap into the public electricity network), the activists used their self-initiative, collaboration and resourcefulness and in 11 years created one of the main hubs of urban culture, critical thought and political activism at a city level, a state level and beyond.