Skip to main content?

Marjetica Potrč

Marjetica Potrč is an artist and architect who works on community-based projects characterized by participatory design and a concern for sustainability.

Potrč’s interdisciplinary practice includes on-site projects, research, architectural case studies, and series of drawings. She is as much a social scientist and anthropologist as she is an artist and architect. Her work documents and interprets contemporary architectural practices with regard to energy infrastructure and water use, as well as the ways people live together. Her projects display a unique sensibility for identifying the existing social capital in a community, which she utilizes as she works to find solutions to everyday problems with residents of communities where traditional infrastructure has degraded. She has a particular interest in extended projects where she can work closely with communities to develop new tools that residents can use to transform their living environment. 

In 2003, she was invited to spend half a year studying the barrios of Caracas, where a lack of running water presented major challenges. Potrč collaborated with Israeli architect Liyat Esakov and the people of the La Vega barrio on 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, indicating the impact that water scarcity has on the city as a whole.

From 2011 to 2018, Potrč was a professor of social practice at the University of Fine Arts/HFBK in Hamburg, Germany, where she taught Design for the Living World class. She and her students worked on participatory design projects throughout Europe, the US, and South Africa. In South Africa, she and her students worked with residents on projects including turning a dumping ground into a community-organized public space.

Potrč’s large gallery installations, or “architectural case studies,” aim to address contemporary architectural practices and their relationship to issues of energy, water use, and communication. For example,  “Hybrid House: Caracas, West Bank, West Palm Beach” (Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art, Lake Worth, FL, 2003) represented a case study of three contemporary communities in conflict and illustrates how they negotiate issues of space, security, energy, water, and communications, highlighting the uneasy coexistence of different communities in 21st-century societies.