Jitka Jakubičková: Love for abandoned buildings

The coaling tower (Zauhlovačka) in Vratislavice nad Nisou was declared a monument three years ago. Thereafter, the AvantgArt initiative was launched, directly linking its activities with the existence of this tower. In addition to the monuments restoration, AvantgArt plans to create a cultural center with community activities there. In the longer term, Zauhlovačka should be given the status of observation tower. On the occasion of the third edition of the event Let’s open Zauhlovačka! which will take place on June 9, 2018, we interviewed the initiative initiator Jitka Jakubičková.  

How did you get to the Zauhlovačka in Vratislavice? 
My love for abandoned buildings is to be blamed:-). It may sound weird, but I've always loved exploring decaying buildings, abandoned factories and forgotten houses. I would imagine how the life had been in the old times when these buildings were “alive”. And I wanted to revive one of them.

Zauhlovačka is opened for the third time now. This time the main motive is the journey into the universe. What has been prepared for the visitors? 
We’ve decided to approach the third year in a non-traditional way. And when one of our volunteers offered to create a special multimedia show, there was no doubt about the theme of the third opening show. Not only will the journey into the universe offer the visitors the traditional elements of the outdoor celebration they already know from our production, but also the sightseeing of the tower will be enriched with original projections and untraditional performances depicting a tower as a space rocket. Not to mention good food and drink from local chefs, fun for the whole family and new information about our efforts. It is definitely worth coming.

Zuhlovačka is a unique architectural monument realized by the architect Leopold Bauer. Have you heard about a similar building in the Czech Republic or in the neighboring countries? 

While searching for historical context in the Liberec’s archive, we found a handwritten chronicle of the textile factory Bytex, part of which Zauhlovačka was and still is, even though the factory has not existed for a long time. And it is stated in the  chronicle that there were only four of these towers throughout the world. Two in Italy and one in Argentina. Ours, the fourth one, ranks among the truly unique monuments. However, we are not alone in an attempt to revitalize the industrial buildings.

Is there a similar project of revitalization of such a specific building in the European region? 
Throughout Europe, there are various technical monuments that groups of enthusiasts with greater or lesser success try to revitalize. All of these well-known monuments were presented on the exhibition Architecture up for grabs!, which was realized in 2016 in the center of Vratislavice nad Nisou.  You can find  lot of information about these buildings and their transformation into the centers of culture and art on the Facebook of Zauhlovačka. 

You work  with many volunteers. Is there a way for the public to get involved in a tower restoration? 
Everyone can get involved, indeed. We do not know everything. And the lack of money is never ending story. Everybody who enjoys meeting new people, who can deal with dirt on his/her hands, who knows how to work with a shovel, who can mason, stucco, glass in, paint, carve, repaint, coat, sweep, glaze, weld, sound, count, write, draw, etc., etc. may become a volunteer. Besides, we need money, be it only for protective equipment for volunteers or for the tools. Therefore, we opened a transparent account where everyone can see how we manage the donations. A contribution in any value is very welcomed.

What has recently pleased you in the field of culture? 
The Via Bona Awards which have been acknowledging inspiring stories of donations and charity for more than 20 years. 

What, on the contrary, has disappointed you? 
I was disappointed that in spite of all the endeavors of the enthusiasts, fans, experts and students the rescue of Mazutka couldn´t be accomplished. Moreover, the future of Libeňský Bridge and Transgas is threatened as well. We cannot be indifferent. Let´s fight for significant monuments. Let´s fight now.

What are your wishes?
My great wish is that people would care more for others and for the place they live in. Furthermore, I wish that people were more involved in public life.