After an entertaining BlaBlaCar ride with a mixed group of 7 Croatians who did
enjoy a weekend of river rafting, I arrived in Zagreb at around 22:00. I
agreed with Vedran from hacklab01 to meet in front of the building.
During my email conversations with Vedran I kinda realized, that I'm not just
visiting a hackerspace, but an alternative culture centre called Medika
which is run by AKC Attack. So upon arrival I was quite enchanted by the
charm of the place.
Entry hall in Medika
Entry to hacklab01
Since Vedran was in the middle of a meeting, I just sat down and started to
talk to a few members. One girl brought some cookies made with cricket flour.
Since we did a similar things with a few of the coredump members some months
ago , this immediately sparked an interesting discussion about meat
production, insect growing and that strangely no company shares how to grow
insects by yourself. Also quite a few members were interested in Rust, so we
decided that I will give a short introduction to Rust on Tuesday.
When Vedran had finished his meeting he gave me a quick show around. The
hackerspace itself consists of a single room, containing an electronics
workspace, some tables for laptop work, couches and a bunch of other stuff.
The hacklab01 room
But since there are various other NGOs and artist in the same complex, there
was plenty of stuff to see!
Hallway in Medika
The rooms for residents of Medika, including showers and toilets, are separated
from the rest of the building.
Door to the living part of Medika
Sadly I didn't take pictures of every room. In the "headquarter" of the
building I had the pleasure to meet Dina. She took up the challenge to manage
this quite chaotic space two weeks ago. The government announced them a week
ago, that they will need to move out . Due to this the week was rather
stressful for her and most of the people living or working in Medika. On the
bright side this also forced them to closely work together, which strengthened
their the Medika community as a whole.
"headquarters" of Medika
They told me that similar stuff happened before and that the situation as a
whole is kind of strange. On one hand the government supports some of the
projects running in Medika financially, on the other hand there is a plan to
build some kind of congress center in this area.
I agreed with Vedran to spend my night in the hacklab, so he handed me the keys
and showed me where toilet, shower are located. They even would have
provided me with a sleeping bag, shampoo and everything else, since I forgot to
tell them that I have all that stuff with me! I found this level of
hospitality quite amazing and welcoming!
The next day Vedran showed my around the old town of the city in the afternoon.
The national theatre
When we got a coffee, we started to talk about the problems they have with the
government. He told me it is probably related to the elections which will be
soon and the major just needs to get some attention. He also told me that the
major is charged with corruption. I was kind of shocked, that a major can
be charged because of corruption, but doesn't need to resign because of that.
According to an UN report corruption and bribery is very common in Croatia,
so maybe the population just got used to it.
View over the old town
The rest of the afternoon I spent in the hackerspace itself, writing my blog
posts, preparing for the Rust workshop and talking to the members which were
present. Later in the evening I went to get some beers with Vedran in a nice
bar close to Medika. I met quite an interesting guy there, who explained me
the history of Croatia, its cultural inheritance and how lots of it got
destroyed during the time of the Austrian Hungarian empire and the Ottoman
wars. We also talked about the difficult economic situation in Croatia
including the recent collapse of Agrokor, Croatias biggest business empire,
which has the potential to bring the whole country down.
Tuesday May 16th. This day marked the deadline which the government has given
Medika to move out of the space. But in the meantime they met with some of the
government's representatives for this matter and got assured that the could
stay. Apparently the whole thing about them needing to move out was triggered
because the building doesn't fit the fire safety requirements anymore, so the
government would need to fix it. But they try to find a way without them
needing to move out completely and later move back in.
Also, probably because of all the media attention, a girl on Facebook
independently organized a party in Medika to show support for the place. So
when I got up people where already preparing stuff for the party.
Since it was very nice weather I decided to take a look at the Botanics garden
After that I wandered around the city and got some coffee (and somehow got
member of a book club). This lead to me almost missing the introduction to
Rust workshop I agreed to give in hacklab01! So I rushed back to the space and
shortly after had an awesome time helping people getting started with Rust.
Introduction to Rust
After the workshop we joined the party
Vedran suggested that I also visit another hackerspace in Zagreb, namely
RADIONA. One member of them offered to pick up by car at Medika and drive us
to the space.
Electronic lab and 3D printers in RADIONA
Famous Nikola Tesla in RADIONA
It is a rather small space, even smaller than coredump, but the community is
very alive. One of the members built his own electric skateboard and we had
lots of fun talking about the design of it and testing it.
DIY electric skateboard
After our short visit, we returned back to Medika, enjoying the party for the
rest of the evening.
The next day it was already time to leave. I met with Vedran to have some
breakfast and we talked about the various projects they run. Medika itself
hosts many artists and arts projects, amongst others
Vedran and Dina are especially involved in the glitch art community. They
organize a festival called fu:bar and developed a gallery management
software called pivilion.
The time I spent at hacklab01 / Medika was truly amazing! I've seen so many
things and met so many interesting people! If you want to visit them as well
you may apply for their hackn3t program, a hackers residency program. I
basically means, they will try to cover for your travel costs if you visit them
and present some project or idea or whatever.
But as much as I enjoyed my time in Zagreb, I was also looking forward to my
next destination Ljubljana, Slovenia!