Interviewed in Zagreb on 9 March 2016
Mia Roth-Čerina is an architect and professor at the Faculty of Architecture in Zagreb. She has been active at the Croatian architectural scene since the end of the 1990s, in partnership with Tonči Čerina. The common denominator of their works, mainly competition projects, is the interest in the social standard, public space and the collective experience. Roth-Čerina promotes similar topics in other activities and thus expands the borders of her teaching, design and socially engaged work. At the Faculty of Architecture, we discussed the parallelism of the different forms of promoting the values that she considers important in the projects, the workshops with students and children and the focuses of her architectural research – the importance of interspace, empathy and the setting of events.
ORIS — You belong to the generation of architects that grew and matured in the specific period of the 1990s and started their professional life and affirmation in the context of the boom of public architecture competitions at the beginning of the 2000s. Many of the diligent members of the generation have preserved their authenticity and intellectual integrity, but have not realized a great deal of projects, conducted research or engaged in other forms of architectural activities. It seems as if the energy and knowledge of one generation remained unrealized, maybe even trapped in the idealistic concept of the institution of competitions. Where do you see the possibility of self-realization and creative alternative regarding the accepted models?
Mia Roth-Čerina — In the whole spectre of projects and activities you can start on your own and specific projects that result from such self-initiated work. They develop because of the specific moment we are living in and lack of architectural production on one hand, and the inherited idealism on the other hand. Relying only on the institution of the competition without taking part in other activities can hinder the development. This time is definitely good for engagements in other aspects of architectural activities we do not think about in the periods of large-scale architectural production. Moreover, this moment of the changed value system also brings the need for the restitution of the architect as a mediator or the initiator of change. Acting through institutions is also necessary, but independent engagement is free, vital and connected with the responsibility of detecting problems and addressing them through many activities.