Marjetica Potrč is an artist and architect who works on community-based projects characterized by participatory design and a concern for sustainability. She works closely with residents in such places as Caracas’s informal settlements and a low-income immigrant neighborhood in a declining modernist district in Amsterdam. Her work emphasizes individual empowerment, problem-solving tools, and strategies to create self-sustaining prosperity within these communities.
Citizens are the ones who make the city.
In 2003 Potrč spent half a year studying first-hand the barrios of Caracas, where the unavailability of running water presents major challenges. Potrč responded by developing—in collaboration with the Israeli architect Liyat Esakov and the people of the La Vega barrio—a “dry toilet,” an ecologically sound toilet that converts human waste to fertilizer. Today, dry toilets have been installed in both the informal and formal areas of Caracas, underscoring the fact that the scarcity of water affects the whole city.
More recently she’s collaborated on rainwater harvesting schemes in Venice, New Orleans, and Murcia, and community gardens in Essen, Amsterdam, and Seoul.
Potrč is as much a social scientist and anthropologist as she is an artist and architect. Her projects display a unique sensibility for identifying the existing social capital in a community and working with locals to find sustainable solutions to everyday problems in places where the traditional infrastructure has broken down.
Potrč holds degrees in architecture and sculpture from the University of Ljubljana and has received numerous grants and awards, including the 2000 Hugo Boss Prize; a Caracas Case Project Fellowship from the Federal Cultural Foundation, Germany, and the Caracas Urban Think Tank, Venezuela (2002); and the Vera List Center for Arts and Politics Fellowship at The New School in New York (2007). Her work has been exhibited extensively throughout Europe and the Americas, including the São Paulo Biennial (1996 and 2006), the Venice Biennial, and a 2001 solo exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.