Dragana Kojičić: This Specific Year Brought People Back To Nature

Returning to nature and natural materials, tradition, earth architecture and promotion of architectural heritage of Novi Sad and Vojvodina, are the ideas of the ‘In the Land of Mulberry’ project by the architect Dragana Kojičić. The project will be implemented in the Svilara Cultural Station and it will comprise the workshops for children and adults that will be held on 21 and 22 October with the beginning at 2 p.m., as well as the lecture on 23 October at 5 p.m. after which the exhibition will be opened.

The workshop and exhibition are intended for everyone, regardless of their age, except one workshop that will be held the second day and a lecture on the third day, which are intended for adults. The workshop for adults requires a bit more practice, and the lecture is related to theoretical groundwork for earth architecture and problems regarding the soil houses. When it comes to other workshops, participants will gain general knowledge of working with soil, techniques that are being used and which they will be able to apply in their own artistic and architectural projects,’ explained Dragana Kojičić.

As the architect said, there is a growing interest in earth architecture and architectural heritage made of soil in the recent years and wide public has considerable knowledge about it. However, at the moment, the focus is on children, especially those who grow up in urban environment, ‘in order to bring the usage of natural materials closer to them, and work with parents and grandparents at the same time’.

Europe and the world have been considering the return to nature for decades, and the situation is getting better in Serbia in the recent years as well, and I think that this year is of crucial importance, since the great number of people who live in cities has returned to villages and realised what are the amenities of natural environment and houses made of natural materials. Although circumstances might not be good, it is good that the situation has brought a lot of valuable and real things, which we forgot and did not appreciated enough,’ said Dragana and added that the earth architecture in Europe and the rest of the world showed and proved that it is popular because of all the advantages of the material being used. Of course, certain adjustment and improvement of technique is necessary, but it meets all high thermal, aesthetic and comfort needs of a modern man.

The advantages of earth building are numerous. Traditionally, it consisted of taking soil from the location and other materials from the closest environment, such as thatch (therefore, the environment was not being polluted since there was no transportation of materials); constructing with neighbours and friends (communal work), thus being the cheapest way of ‘settling down’; it can be recycled; walls made of soil breathe (they absorb the excess moisture in the soil, which evaporates when necessary); soil is not insulation material, but with its thickness, walls made of soil enable slow heating and cooling (they keep us cool during summer, and warm during winter); and, above all, when properly built, the soil house is an extremely healthy and comfortable solution. Nowadays, the soil is being used in construction more often, but unfortunately, in some other ways. In order to be competitive with other materials, it becomes rather prefabricated and prepared in advance, so there is the transportation, much higher price of materials, especially when it comes to costs for skilled workforce, which we lack. In addition to all ‘flaws’, the soil is truly one of the materials of the future, due to its advantages it has for a comfortable and healthy life,’ said Dragana Kojičić.

Due to the pandemic situation, groups for workshops ‘In the Land of Mulberry’ are being organised in advance.

Organisers kindly ask all visitors to adhere to all measures in order to maintain health and enjoy cultural events. Visitors are obliged to wear masks during all events. In the case of change of pandemic measures, the organiser reserves the right to change the programme and format of the event.

The ‘In the Land of Mulberry’ project is one of the 42 projects that received funds within the Public call within the ‘Artists. Now!’ project, aimed at strengthening local cultural scene, raising its capacities through a network of cultural stations, decentralisation of culture and audience development.