Stanica Žilina-Záriečie, Žilina (Žilina-Záriečie Station, Cultural Node)
The original railway station building (still in use) Žilina–Záriečie in northern Slovakia and the area around it have operated as a mix of alternative cultural space, arts laboratory and activist collective since 2003. The station is run by Truc sphérique, a non-profit organisation founded in 1998. In 2011 the organisation embarked on a similar reconstruction project and now also run another cultural centre in the former synagogue in Žilina, Nová synagóga – Kunsthalle Žilina. The railway station itself comprises three buildings – S1, S2 and S3.
S1, rented by Truc sphérique from the Slovak State Railways for a symbolic fee, opened in 1946 when a young married railway worker couple moved into the small house, raising their five children in the railway station. In front of the station there was a garden full of fruit trees and flowers, which trains passed. Regular train travellers got to know the family whose doors at the railway station were always open to everyone. In the 1980s a new overpass known as the Rondel was built, encircling the station and destroying nearly all the other original buildings in the surrounding Tehelňa (brickworks) area. The couple were lucky enough to witness the reconstruction of the building and see new life being breathed into the whole area by its transformation into a cultural space.
S2 was conceived as a way of smartening up and revitalising the inhospitable area under the Rondel overpass. S2 has been transformed into a unique theatre building, constructed out of three thousand beer crates, 800 bales of straw, 10 cubic metres of wooden boards, 60 OSB boards, 120 railway sleepers, 12 cubic metres of ship containers, 2 Tatra lorry loads of clay, 10,000 nails, 1 kilometre of threaded bars, a thousand nuts, bolts and washers, 1,500 wood screws, 1 Tatra lorry load of gravel for levelling the ground, 1 extension electric cable, 2 wheelbarrows and a small scaffolding. For the incredible sum of 7,000 euros a new space for contemporary art and other events as well as a cultural centre was created in 2009, doubling the railway station’s capacity.
The S3 annex built out of ship containers is still at the planning stage. The project also boasts a garden with a patio and a children’s playground, which includes a section of the adjoining park and a legal graffiti wall.