Disco School:
Reimagining the future of Murska Sobota

About

Reimagining the future of Murska Sobota

A semi-fictional town plan collaboratively produced by renowned creatives and the children from Murska Sobota, showcasing their shared vision of the city’s future.

Have you ever wondered what the future of our cities would look like if children were in charge?

Disco School is a project made to inspire and engage the local community of Murska Sobota, a city that has been losing its industrial and economical identity, to move away from a nostalgic past and turn to a new vision of the future.

The project provides inclusive platforms to mediate community engagement with local government in the re-imagining of their towns future. By including 98 children in the process, activating their imagination and curiosity, we encouraged their interest in community life, and established a link between city decision makers and those whose voices are often considered to be unimportant.

Visit us

Find out how a conversation about the future can add genuine value to our lives. Come take a look at the future town plan and grab a free copy of our book Beyond Speculative Design: Past – Present – Future.

@ ITD, Einspilerjeva 25, Ljubljana on:

Be a change-maker, join online or in-space or simply just contact us!

Sara
sara@transmedia-design.me
+386 31 696037
Mateja
mateja@transmedia-design.me

The building has several entrances, use the right side entrance from Parmova ulica.

Locations

Streets of Murska Sobota

Research

The research included interviews with the citizens and mapping the city and locations that were recognized as important places of social encounters. Citizens were driven around Murska Sobota in a taxi and invited to share their visions of the city, migration and social inclusion.

Each of these visions depicts the experiences of individuals (locals, musicians, artists, designers, social scientists, historians, researchers), their relationships with the city, and a desire to explore what kind of future we can live in. Each story is intimate, yet collective and familiar enough that it can be shared.

Murska Sobota Castle - MIKK

Workshop

During a three-day workshop led by designers Jimmy Loizeau, Matt Ward and Sara Božanić, the children of Murska Sobota combined storytelling, line drawing and collages to develop ideas about a new shared vision of their town’s future. A collection of stories, images, sketches and plans were produced and then turned into 3D structures and models to help design the alternative city town plan.

photos: Matt Ward, Žan Bedenik

Murska Sobota Castle - MIKK

Exhibition

Immerse into in the universe of a transformed Murska Sobota featuring big toboggans as the main mode of public transport, sports fields particularly designed for a hybrid discipline combining skate and tennis, a house of illusions, a puppy rescue shelter, a technology park with phone-growing trees, custom made candy souvenirs, and much more.

photos: Matt Ward, Žan Bedenik

Park Theater

Official Opening

The Disco School exhibition was firstly opened on 11 September 2021 in Murska Sobota with a special screening of a short film created during the preparations, which was held at the notable Park Theatre (Gledališče Park). The exhibition was opened by the initiators of the project, the mentors, and the authors, together with the Mayor of Murska Sobota, Dr. Aleksander Jevšek.

photos: Matt Ward, Žan Bedenik

Elementary School III

Artworks

Inspired by the discussion about their city and under the guidance of teacher Mihaela Ružič, pupils of Elementary School III in Murska Sobota worked on various artworks centered around their hometown. A city maquette was made with over 50 pieces of ceramics, over 10 linocut prints and 10 photographs of the most striking buildings in the city designed by the famous architect Feri Novak.

Elementary School III

Songwriting

A total of 21 poems were written about Murska Sobota by pupils of Elementary School III.

Franc Franc Creative Agency

Recording

Music has always played a big role in our society, both as a generator of social and political change, but also by shaping one’s sense of belonging and identity.

Two songs were produced using four of the poems written by pupils, and made into some kind of anthems of the future Murska Sobota, with the help of renowned local musicians kleemar and Big Pappa. The songs were recorded in a music studio with the children and then pressed into a vinyl entitled Vö Fajna!.

photos: Matt Ward, Žan Bedenik, Sara Božanić

Site Le Corbusier - My Neighbourhood, My City

FIRMINY

After the exhibition in Murska Sobota held in September, the new town plan produced during the Disco School workshop moved to a group exhibition entitled My neighbourhood, my city, held at the Saint-Pierre Church in Firminy, France.

Firminy has been a twin town with Murska Sobota since 2018. The two cities are linked by a special cultural bond between the architect Le Corbusier, who worked on a project in the Firminy-Vert neighbourhood, where he built a recreation centre for body and mind, while in Murska Sobota his influence is present and visible in the city centre, designed by his student Feri Novak (1906-1959).

The exhibition was presented on the occasion of the National Architecture Days in France

Immerse into the French set-up of a transformed Murska Sobota.

photos: Site Le Courbusier

Institute for Transmedia Design

Exhibition

Explore the colorful plan for the future of Murska Sobota on display at the Institute for Transmedia Design in Ljubljana, from 17 to 21 December 2021.

Visit us! Come take a look at the future town plan and grab a free copy of our book Beyond Speculative Design: Past – Present – Future.

@ ITD, Einspielerjeva 25, on the following days:

photos: Suzan Gabrijan

Plan the Unplannable

Virtual Event

WHEN?
Monday, 20 December 2021, 6 pm (CET)
WHERE?
Online (via Zoom)

In January 2020 we started Disco School; an ambitious attempt to translate speculative and participatory design practices, developed for a small town in North Wales, into a productive plan to reimagine a post-industrial town in Slovenia. Our aim was to give agency to the people of Murska Sobota to rethink their town’s future.

When the pandemic hit Europe in March 2020, the project had to change; moving its processes online. Adapting to reconfigure our relationships with partners and possibilities, the project production team evolved, cajoled and inspired a town to grapple with its future, helping the children of Murska to imagine a world of different possibilities.

This online event aims to bring together a diverse set of participants who engaged with the Illegal Future Machine over the last two years to understand how design changed their understanding of themselves, each other and the future of Murska Sobota.

Join us for an online discussion about the project. Take a walk through the online exhibition as we reflect on the processes and creative mediums used during the project, and take part in a conversation about the value of incorporating community perspectives into our work, and the role of childhood in the voice and agency of our collective future.

Works

CLAY

A model of the town of Murska Sobota made with more than 100 pieces of ceramics by the pupils of the Elementary School III in Murska Sobota.

photo: Suzan Gabrijan

LINOCUT PRINTS

The prints made by pupils of the Elementary School III represent the most remarkable buildings of Murska Sobota, designed by the famous architect Feri Novak.

photo: Ana Nicol Ropoša

PHOTOGRAPHS

Murska Sobota through the eyes of elementary school students.

photo: Suzan Gabrijan

THE CITY OF THE FUTURE

The alternative city plan was created based on a collection of stories, images, sketches and and plans.

VINYL

With the support of the famous local musicians kleemar and Big Pappa, four poems written by children were turned into two songs that became the new anthems of the future city of Murska Sobota.

photo: Matt Ward

SKATE-TENNIS PARK

A special court was created for probably the coolest sport you've never even heard of, a hybrid between skateboarding and tennis. Why? Because two is always better than one, and the future of Murska is all about innovation.

TOBOGGAN

A toboggan was built as the main means of public transport. Because what better way to get from A to B than to slide down a breathtaking, transparent toboggan?

Electric Trees

A new technology park was built in Murska Sobota, with smartphone-growing trees.

Reflections

Disco School? Mmmmm... it was a lovely journey into the future.

During the project, we got to escape from our usual Sobota for a while and think about it in a completely different way.

It was nice because we as young people were allowed to have our say and make our voices heard.

We turned on our imagination, all our senses, joined forces and suddenly our ideas were incredibly powerful. The best part was that we had a great time while working.

Many of us discovered some hidden talents that we had not previously had the chance to uncover and express.

I am very proud of the release of the LP. It's great! And it sounds really cool. And the song was a real hit.

The candies with our names on them made us all very happy too.

And walking the red carpet at our final reunion was also a cool experience.

In short – sweet and fun. I want MORE!

Thank you to the whole team for giving us this opportunity.

Jakob Cigüt

The Disco School was by no means a school in the strict sense of the word, but rather a place to joke and have fun, and a great source of ideas and inspiration. It was a collection of stories and experiences of kids from our city and a unique opportunity for young people to express their vision of the city in a creative and unconventional way.

They were thinking in childlike but modern terms. They rushed to each workshop with great joy and enthusiasm, and found the work to be both a serious challenge and an unforgettable adventure. They felt that they were important because all of their ideas were heard and seen.

They felt that they were important because all of their ideas were heard and seen. The children's creativity radiated like a pleasant warm ray of sunshine at every stage of the project. You gave them the drive, the audacity and the hope that they can dare to dream.

Discovering their strengths and talents, which are often overlooked by adults in a real school, was of huge significance. In the course of their creative work, the children strengthened cooperation, constructive problem-solving and empathy, which in this extremely strange world are sadly losing their power and value. It was great to see their happy faces, cheerfulness, courage and contentment.

I am grateful to you for giving our children the opportunity to dare to dream and to express their opinions and wishes loudly and strongly.

Disco School was their pulse of future life.

Thank you all for this unique experience.

Nina Cigüt

The fact that two British university lecturers came to a town like Murska Sobota and met with the pupils of one of the schools in this small town is something special in itself, but what is absolutely fascinating is that they also have a serious intention to engage in a creative dialogue with the pupils, to adapt to them, to get down to their level and to try to understand them, and to do that in a genuine and sincere way. Disco school is definitely something that makes speculative design work in a practical way. And, of course, something that makes Murska Sobota and its future fresh, different, tailored to the children and their modest yet lofty aspirations.

Ana Gorše, journalist at Radio Murski val

The fact that two British university lecturers came to a town like Murska Sobota and met with the pupils of one of the schools in this small town is something special in itself, but what is absolutely fascinating is that they also have a serious intention to engage in a creative dialogue with the pupils, to adapt to them, to get down to their level and to try to understand them, and to do that in a genuine and sincere way. Disco school is definitely something that makes speculative design work in a practical way. And, of course, something that makes Murska Sobota and its future fresh, different, tailored to the children and their modest yet lofty aspirations.

Ana Gorše, journalist at Radio Murski val

We were incredibly surprised by the two exhibitions on such beautiful subjects. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for these wonderful moments in Firminy!

Maria

It felt like a dream! What a wonderful project with these students, now they can understand what matters regarding living spaces. Thank you Le Corbusier!

Maria

It blew a little magic in our hearts.

Marie Barthélémy

It is a structured yet magical world, and building a whole new concept of living feels possible after seeing it.

Emma Dardeau

The result is great, especially if we consider the difficult sanitary circumstances under which the project was elaborated.

Daniel Ulčar

Certainly the people of Murska Sobota have many other ideas, but many are reluctant to express them publicly. Even if these ideas are not yet fully formed, it is important to find in them that grain of sense or meaning on which to build further. That is why I find your project useful.

Borut Klepec, resident of Murska Sobota

I love Sobota. I was born here and I’m fine here. Life is pretty cool, but there is nothing happening. I wish we had more events and things going on for the youth, I wish more opportunities would be given to them ... If they can’t show and do what they are good at, they will lose that little will they have.

Big Pappa, musician and rapper

There were a lot of us, around 50-60. We had a nice ghetto blaster and we would play some music, mainly rap at first, but so many people came that in the end it wasn’t just rap anymore. Everybody was there, rockers, metalheads, punks, ravers ... We all listened to the music from that one ghetto blaster, it was good. Then we had various combinations, a bit of your music, a bit of ours. But we don’t have that now.

Big Pappa, musician and rapper

I feel sorry for places like Central and Podmornica. I don’t know if you remember, but they used to be full all the time, and they were good. But with the change of ownership and privatisation, everything has changed. I miss some of the traditions in the city, although I know that times are changing and that we cannot live in the past.

Boris Bodanec, driver

We have failed in the urban development of the city plan. At every entry point to the city, there is a new shopping centre.

Janez Balažic, historian

You won't achieve anything if you just clean the main streets, you need to find young people to make a living here.

Janez Balažic, historian

I see opportunities for Murska Sobota in migration; we can no longer generate or talk about ethnic migration, but we can speak about intellectual migration. People come here from Vienna, Graz, Zagreb, Budapest and they come back because they like it here, and I see potential in that.

Janez Balažic, historian

The second half of the 1980s and the early 1990s, because at that time we had a lot of factories in operation and there was a general sense of optimism. A lot of people who had gone to Ljubljana to study art and culture came back, me included, and we all had a great will to work. At the time, Slovenia was opening up to the international space, and so Murska Sobota was opening up as well. We were very connected, it was easy to invite international dancers, musicians, etc. We got a small theater/auditorium for the first time, and it was relatively well equipped. It was a big step forward. This is a very personal view, but these seem like the best years in Murska Sobota to me.

Duša Škof, Artistic director at the Institute for Culture, Sports and Tourism in Murska Sobota

Until about 1995 it was a great time for Murska Sobota, but after that there were many changes that led nowhere. Small municipalities were being created, and it seemed that everyone fenced off and locked themselves in their own space. There was a great disconnection.

Brigita Perhavec, Director at the Institute for Culture, Sports and Tourism in Murska Sobota

With digitalisation, people everywhere have started to close themselves in their homes and hang out online, but in Murska Sobota this is a bit more obvious due to a combination of circumstances – the collapse of industry, shopping malls, all the privatisations in the city centre… I think we are at a crossroads today, and projects like this can contribute to bringing life back to the city centre.

Daniel Ulčar, Associate for Tourism and Promotion at the Institute for Culture, Sports and Tourism in Murska Sobota

The other problem is that now there are not enough jobs, so young people are leaving and not coming back. We don’t have students, and we have positioned the high schools on the outskirts, which is a huge mistake, so now there is nobody in the city. The only people to be seen in the centre are pensioners.

Brigita Perhavec, Director at the Institute for Culture, Sports and Tourism in Murska Sobota

We could focus on some innovative approaches in agriculture, and if we switched to horticulture we could be totally self-sufficient. We would have so many opportunities for further development from this.

Duša Škof, Artistic director at the Institute for Culture, Sports and Tourism in Murska Sobota

Ideally, Murska Sobota would be full of young people, young families, and students. We’d have specific, reputable universities that other cities don’t have, so young people from everywhere would come to Murska Sobota to study.

Brigita Perhavec, Director at the Institute for Culture, Sports and Tourism in Murska Sobota

Impressum

DISCO ARTISTS

Concept artists
Jimmy Loizeau, Matt Ward, Mihaela Ružič, Sara Božanić
Artwork artists
Dunja Ana Colombo, Neli Čep, Lucian Dujanovič, Gaja Krčmar, Tija Murgelj, Lara Copot, Aneja Gomboc, Betina Pucko, Urša Šlibar, Ana Žvokelj, Zarja Garcia, Hana Marinič, Taja Horvat, Žana Martinec, Marsel Meleš, Tine Šalamon, Mia Topovšek, Nina Bohnec, Maj Balažic, Katja Egić, Lučka Gostenčnik, Lan Graabar, Žiga Grah, Gaja Horvat, Kiara Horvat, Tjaša Horvat, Vanja Horvat, Lana Tia Kuhar, Žan Luk, Luka Pojbič, Lan Šalamun, Alina Šarkezi, Julija Šinko, Samanta Šipoš, Luka Škaper - Meško, Alex Vukan, Mai Borovič, Bor Patrik Burjan, Maruša Durič, Jure Garcia, Luka Valentin Grabar, Iztok Kikec, Kiara Kolbl, Luna Kuhar, Neža Küplen, Vid Mlinarič, Neli Režonja, Zoja Šantavec, Lara Šebjan, Aleksander Škafar, Keanu Švenda, Kim Kuzmič, Enei Lucu, Tian Mesarič, Ajda Oček, Katarina Petrović, Lado Ratkai, Mia Topovšek, Kio Červek, Lina Felkar, Lem Forjanič, Erik Gomboc, Tajda Gostenčnik, Jaša Grčar, Val Hajdenkumer, Filip Horvat Mohar,  Aljaž Kokol Povh, Izabela Zala Kranfogel, Jure Kumin, Matic Kranfogel, Jakob Cigüt, Maruša Durič, Blaž Tobias, Dej Duričić, Eva Kuronja, Aleks Horvat, Luka Mesarič, Maša Kos, Matic Brunec, Tine Šalamon, Alex Gutalj, Naja Gjerek, Taja Marič, Urška Obal, Zana Zrim, Tia Lülik, Lara Kuzmič, Eva Kumin, Eva Marija Fičer, Dina Ismajlović, Hana Ismajlović, Zara Sabotin, Ula Sabotin, Miha Šebjan, Vasja Pertoci, Taras Kikec, Katjuša Pertoci

Impressum

Exhibition design
Jimmy Loizeau, Matt Ward, Sara Božanić, Žan Bedenik, Ana Nicol Ropoša, Mateja Filipović‑Sandalj, Tomaž Županec, Petar Božanić, Oleg Šuran, Sebastijan Škraban
Composing
Matej Končan aka kleemar, Big Pappa, Izabela Zala Kranfogel, Maruša Durič, Matic Kranfogel, Jakob Cigüt
Media Design
Oleg Šuran
Content Design
Mateja Filipović‑Sandalj
Photo and video credits
Žan Bedenik, Jimmy Loizeau, Matt Ward, Site “Le Corbusier”
Supervision
Vida Lukač, Matej Fišer, Sonja Čerpnjak, Daniel Ulčar, Boris Bodanec, Maja Lačen Škrbič, Ivica Mitrović, Janez Balažic, Branka Jančar, Gabrijela Mastnak, Darko Vrabec
Co-Production
Institute for transmedia design, Centre for Creativity, the Municipality of Murska Sobota, Primary School III Murska Sobota, MIKK – Youth and Culture Club Murska Sobota, the Institute for Culture, Tourism and Sport Murska Sobota, the Municipality of Ljubljana, Academia Maribor, Goldsmiths University of London and the Academy of Arts in Split.

The project is co-produced with the Centre for Creativity at MAO and is part of the Platform Centre for Creativity's partner network, co-financed by the European Union's Regional Development Fund, the Republic of Slovenia, the Municipality of Ljubljana and the Municipality of Murska Sobota.

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