Osijek Sport Incubator to be “Unlike Anything in Croatia”

Lauren Simmonds

osijek sport incubator

April the 8th, 2024 – Osijek is set to get a brand new “settlement” which will be made up of a wide array of different facilities. From a business and trade centre to museums, fourteen new buildings and a new Osijek sport incubator – here’s what’s in store for this eastern Croatian city.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/VL/Suzana Lepan-Stefancic writes, at one time, it employed 3,000 workers, and with a complex spanning ten hectares, this factory in Osijek was once a small town of its own. It had its own water supply, sewage system, lighting, an industrial railway that connected it to the railway and the pier on the Drava, and in 1918, it began to build clerk’s and workers’ apartments on its land.

You might have guessed it if you know much about Osijek. We’re talking about the old Osijek iron foundry and machine factory, OLT, whose downfall began with privatisation. It was then finally liquidated in 2019. What remained was a disorganised and frighteningly empty complex smack bang in the middle of the city, across from the shiny new Osijek university campus.

looking towards the future – the osijek sport incubator will be unlike anything seen before in Croatia…

In the future, this former Osijek factory should undergo revitalisation and become a sport incubator like Croatia has never seen before. The Osijek sport incubator was the idea of the Minister of Defence Ivan Anušić from the time when he was the prefect of Osijek-Baranja County, and recently the conceptual solution for the development of the Urban Planning Plan for the OLT was chosen and presented. At that presentation, it was pointed out that this was the first step towards the realisation of the long-awaited transformation of this industrial legacy into a modern, multifunctional urban entity.

It will become a completely new settlement with as many as fourteen new residential buildings of different heights and about 500 apartments, which will house around 1,600 tenants.

As impressive as all of that is, at the very heart of this whole story is a unique sport incubator. Among other things, it will include three large halls and a number of smaller halls with changing rooms, a multipurpose Olympic swimming pool, a gym, fitness facilities, outdoor and indoor rock climbing, an 800-metre circular trim track for outdoor exercises, and the list goes on.

The Museum of Osijek Sport and the Museum of Osijek Industry were initially conceived in the old OLT administration building. The museums will also have an outdoor display behind the building and in the settlement. The revitalised complex will span over 6.5 hectares.

a unique project

“The Osijek sport incubator is a unique project that we haven’t yet found anywhere else in the world. It will strengthen not only Osijek-Baranja County, but will also “cover” the whole of Croatia, and perhaps even neighbouring countries.

There’s an incredible amount of sporting talent here in Croatia, but it all mostly regards projects taken up by families or individuals who achieve incredible sporting results and thus promote their region and country. There is a lack of the systematic creation of athletes, and the systematic monitoring and guidance of young people towards sport. That’s why a large number of children across Croatia only spontaneously engage in sport, or do not engage in sport at all,” said Minister Anušić at the presentation of conceptual solution of the future Osijek sport incubator.

The mayor of Osijek, Ivan Radić, noted that the conceptual solution was preceded by the donation of state land to Osijek-Baranja County, and then by last year’s decision by the Osijek City Council to draw up an urban plan.

“Now, the development of an urban plan is set to follow, and the purpose of everything is to get a sustainable, multifunctional urban unit on the site of the former factory. This will consist of a residential and sport part, as well as the former administration building of the factory, which we’ll preserve and which will also receive its purpose,” said Radić.

Buildings significant as part of Osijek’s industrial heritage will be renovated, while some of the buildings will be demolished. It’s also interesting to note that the OLT factory was one of the first buildings in all of eastern Croatia built of reinforced concrete.

“We organised the construction around the perimeter, so that all the housing and the future Osijek sport incubator are located on the edge of the city and will as such define the new settlement. The goal is to free up the inner zone, that is, the main pedestrian axis with squares, sports fields, a track… It’s also important to highlight the upcoming kindergarten with a capacity of 200 up to 250 children, as well as a shopping and business centre.

Road traffic in the settlement will be minimised in order to give priority to pedestrians and cyclists, and the car park will be primarily positioned underground. We’re promoting the use of renewable energy sources such as solar energy and rainwater collection, and the organisation of ground floors and roofs in terms of urban gardens,” explained the authors of the winning conceptual solution, architects Ivan Jovanovac, Siniša Bodrožić and Filip Šrajer.


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