During my stay in Bratislava, I met several researchers involved in regional development, doc. Ing. arch. Jarmila Húsenicová, PhD., the Head of the Department of Architecture at the Faculty of Civil Engineering at the Slovak Technical University , Ing. Martin Spacek, a researcher, working on the project: Multilevel governance for balanced development between core and peripheral spaces and Ing. arch. Miroslav Beňák, conducting research into use of Brownfields and one of the founders of the platform Cierne diery (Black holes) , which monitors forgotten industrial heritage in Slovakia. http://ciernediery.sk
All these meetings were informal discussions rather than structured interviews and made me look at my project from different points of view.
Ing. arch. Jarmila Húsenicová, PhD., saw the tourism and with it related activities as the main potential for regional development in Eastern Slovakia and suggested I might be interested to consider who might be the visitors (Ukraine and Russia). She was referring a lot to Bata and his economic and social model as a way to decrease regional disparities. She gave me a very useful document – Long term vision of the development of Slovak society- until 2030, which I already started exploring and will summarise in a short time.
Ing. Martin Spaček and Miroslav Beňák suggested exploring wider context as the next step. What is the potential of the whole region and how could I link it with my project of the salt work? Is it economically beneficial to build a new salt work, considering the global trends ? They both were more interested in the old factory in Prešov and its forgotten identity. They see that development should come from ‘bellow’ and people are more keen when the future development comes from the history.
As a result of these discussion together with an input from the governmental program I described earlier, the strongest feature of my project should not be the salt woks itself, but rather the strategy of how it can influence the wider region. I came back to my former idea of a salt route, which could include several proposals. Building upon the historic legacy of the salt, I could extend my project into the least developed regions supported by the government, and also the problem of the leaking brine in Prešov would become more relevant.