a new space of contemporary art in Ljubljana
Since it has opened its doors, the renovated former sugar factory Cukrarna, a remarkable space for the production and presentation of contemporary art, has become a star among Ljubljana’s special venues. The venue’s main aim is to become a new cultural hub in Ljubljana.
One of the most monumental examples of industrial architecture in Ljubljana, a source of inspiration for four modernists, a contemporary exhibition space, as well as an urban curiosity invites visitors to walk along the Ljubljanica River to the eastern edge of the city centre to enjoy the unmistakable ambience.
Cukrarna began life in 1828 as a sugar refinery. Starting with just 22 workers and a single sugar kettle, it grew rapidly over the following decades to become the first proper factory in the region and, by the mid-19th century, the biggest sugar refinery in the Austro-Hungarian empire. Its fate was sealed on 25 August 1858, however, when a devastating fire broke out and put an end to sugar production in Ljubljana, though there were also other factors involved: by that time it had become more profitable to produce sugar from beet rather than from cane, and the owner of the building was deep in debt and could only afford to restore it sufficiently to make it fit for renting out.
Those who found a new home in the building also included the writers Dragotin Kette and Josip Murn, while their friends, included Ivan Cankar, Oton Župančič and other writers, frequently met or even stayed there on occasion. These writers, who will be forever associated with the genre of Slovenian modernism, were Cukrarna’s most famous residents, and in their works, they left remarkable testimonies about the building and its occupants. Living conditions were far from adequate, however, and remained sub-standard even in the 20th century, with the result that by the 1980s Cukrarna had come to be regarded as a disgraceful blot on the city. Now, however, Cukrarna has finally come into its own as an interesting architectural achievement in its own right.
Contribution to the revitalisation of urban space
The extensive reconstruction of the Cukrarna building, which started in 2018 within the framework of the Cukrarna Gallery Construction Project, was financed together with the European Regional Development Fund and the Republic of Slovenia.
Cukrarna has also improved the social aspect of land use, as with the implementation of the project the area with its new content and design became dynamic, socially lively, safer and more pleasant space with a rich program, interesting for multiple visits of both residents and visitors to Ljubljana.