Years ago, grinding, groaning and creaking in once the most prestigious fabric factory in all of Yugoslavia, Maribor Textile Factory, fell silent. Today, buildings are parts empty and abandoned serve only as a roof over the head of boxes stored in vast rooms occupied by a few people. The alive-whimsy that had once been traced to this part of town has disappeared completely with only a janitor remaining who narrates and brings to life the forgotten murmur. With the collapse of leading textile factories – in addition to the Maribor Textile Factory (MTT), the Laundry and Garment Factory (PIK) was also established in Melje – the Melje industrial zone slowly began to replace its original function in favour of storages. Although all the necessary infrastructure for the successful operation of the textile industry is available, the former MTT’s buildings without the right buy-in offer are left to decay. Due to years of working in red numbers and neglected maintenance, buildings have been affected by the ravages of time, whose consequences if not found and repaired, will worsen and may even lead to a condition suitable for demolition.
With the establishment of Yugoslavia, Slovenia became the most industrialized country within it. The success came mainly from the production of cotton textile products with a manufacturing center in Maribor, where three-quarters of Slovenian textile companies were based. At the end of World War II, there were 5 textile factories operating in the Melje area and in 1946. Hutter and another Maribor textile factory decided to join forces to continue operating under the name MTT – Maribor Textile Factory. There were 3800 employees increasing to 6500 by 1960s, which represented 10 to 15 percent of the population. The Maribor Textile Factory soon became one of the largest exporters of footwear in Central Europe. The goods were exported to Scandinavia, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, the Middle East countries, and the Yugoslav People’s Army represented an important buyer of Fabrics (Matjašič, 2016).
MTT also provided workers with the opportunity for cultural and sports education, vacations and workers housing. Within the MTT facilities, choir and fishing section has developed with active involvement in the fields of amateur theatre. Each worker was given a subsidy for daily warm meals, good health and dental care and entitlement to use the holiday facilities on the Croatian coast which contributed to high work standard. The factory rapidly started building apartments near factory sites so that each employee could rent or buy a property under favourable conditions. Thus, most of the workers and their families found their home in one of the blocks on Pobrežje or one of the houses of the workers' settlements in Tabor and also in Pobrežje (Matjašič, 2016).
The problem of cultural heritage restoration has always been a pressing issue in Slovenia since we live in an environment where the movement of capital is the leading force of investment. Unfortunately, most times when it comes to the fate of an abandoned architecture, it is already known that it will be demolished. Not all buildings are treated equally, sacral objects are privileged, which usually only get a new shiny disguise (in contrast with “communists” workers factories which are neglected with ease) If the decision to renovate sacral buildings is a little easier to negotiate with an investor, this is by no means the case with industrial heritage. Dr Fedja Košir marks the abandoned industrial facilities as a blind spot for renovation and conservation. It is readily forgotten that industrial plants played the role of pioneering entities when testing new structures and materials (Matos, U., 2005). Although the architectural language of the building is interesting to the profession, it is not only the tectonics of the building that is worth preserving – the collective memory related to the space of the spent objects also plays an important role. We can perceive cities not only on one linear level of the material world but as a combination of different layers that, through their influences, shape space into what it is.
People who shape their presence not only at a tangible level but through the formation of culture play a major role in this. As dr. Sonja Ifko states – the industrial development has significantly influenced the design of Slovenian space in the last two hundred years (Matos, U., 2005), and industrial facilities can somehow be understood as nodes of stories of different people, whose effects could be discovered in the atmosphere and ecstasy of the environment in which it was located. That is why it is even more important to be aware of the role of used industrial buildings, which once served as a crucial backdrop for social interactions, thus helping to shape the atmosphere of the wider world – this principle is especially important in the once industrially powerful cities. These buildings thus represent an immense potential for reinterpretation, thereby allowing them to maintain their place of creative character.
Excerpts cited/edited from master thesis Conceptual Design of The Center for Promotion of Re-use and Sustainable Waste Management in the Mill – Revitalization and Programming of the Mariborska Tekstilna Tovarna (MTT), Faculty of Architecture, University of Ljubljana.
Research and text by Maja Horvat
1946 Textile industry an d park with a water well
1991 Textile industry. Mixed use.
2018 Mixed – storage, office, dance studio, Jager supermarket, shooting range, furniture store Razgoršek, car industry.
1946 Josip Hutter
2018 Private – different owners
Form of government
1946 Parliamentary Constitutional Monarchy
1991 Presidential Democracy
2018 Presidential Democracy
Spatial Planning Agency
Type of heritage and protection
1946 Not recognized as heritage
1991 Not recognized as heritage
2018 Heritage with no protection