Sugar Factory is one of the few industrial facilities that with its monumentality, position, and historical significance managed to resist oblivion. The physical structure and consistency of the complex are a current theme in the city of Belgrade for many years, however, some chapters from the story of the Sugar Factory slowly fade. The facilities of the complex are a monument of the culture of the city of Belgrade and the “Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments” is currently responsible for them. The details that are forgotten and which will not be remembered in the future are the use value of the factory. The workers are no longer walking through the complex, machines do not create noise and the smell of sugar has faded away.
The story of Sugar Factory lasts for one hundred and twenty-one years, but the workflow of the operation has been frozen almost 3 decades. At the end of the 19th century, along the Sava River, the construction of the complex has begun. The need for sugar production has also risen at the time. The Sugar Factory was established in 1898 and with the rest of the mass production complexes formed the municipality Čukarica, the biggest work settlement at the time.
King Aleksandar Obrenović leaves the establishment of the factory to the main shareholders of the sugar factory in Germany. Alfred Hake, Julius Goldschmidt and Max Winschenk are establishing a firm named “Serbian Royal Sugar Factory in Belgrade, Hake, Goldschmidt and Wineschenk”. The position of the company was due to a large quantity of water being needed for the production process, and also the availability of the materials was conditioned by water transport and rail transport.
Production process was brought to a halt in 1902 and it lasted for four years, thereafter, the factory was reopened by merging with the German sugar factory. The factory was reconstructed, machines were modernized, new machines were installed and the production was progressing until the start of WWI. At the very beginning of the war, the factory was damaged due to the bombing, but it was successfully sold to the Austro-Hungarian joint-stock company that immediately worked on the reconstruction of facilities and machines.
Production lasted even during the war, but it was negligible, and by the end of the war, small amount of sugar was made. In 1920, the Sugar Factory was sequestered and it was entrusted to the board of directors. The property status of the factory was resolved in 1925, when it was decided tgat tge factory would be owned by the state. It was then renamed into “National Sugar Factory in Cukarica”. In the next 15 years the factory bloomed, renewed and reconstructed, in 1939 the complex was expanded and a new production branch was introduced.
Denatured alcohol and yeast factory was officially initiated in 1940, however, it only worked for a year, due to WWII. Impressively, for the second time, the complex resists the damage done after the wars, and continues the production. The name of the company was changed to “The Industry of Sugar and Fermentation Dimitrije Tucovic ”and remained that way until the end of WWII. In the meantime, it becomes a part of Belgrade’s agricultural combinat. In this area, two production processes took place in parallel. In 1983, sugar production was moved to Padinska Skela.
Factory “Fermentation” works nowadays, only empty spaces and story without an event is the only things left of the Sugar Factory. Buildings that nowadays fight the battle with time represent a significant historical monument, partly because of the way they helped develop and form the city, partly because of its design and ambiance. The oldest and most valuable buildings are the Machine hall and the dryer with the warehouse, connected with a passage which also represents one of the significant spatial monuments of this complex. All items that once belonged to the Sugar Factory will be preserved, however their use will be completely changed.
Today, we can still find traces of production on the site, combined with new ways of using the complex. The uniqueness of the complex was noticed in 1995 and members of the Bitef Theater decided to performe the play “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in the abandoned part of the Sugar Factory. It is precisely this performance that represents the first attempt to keep the Sugar Factory out of oblivion, unlike most of the old industrial facilities in the area of Belgrade. Two years after the first performance, the “KPGT” theater was opened, the Ministry of Culture financed the reconstructions.
Today, “KPGT” is the only tool for occasional resuscitation of the emptiness produced by the Sugar Factory. The complex is quietly surrounded by settled working-class apartments. Every room of the former factory offers a totally different ambient, from the amount of light to the temperature. Certain parts of the factory are visited and maintained by street artists on a daily basis. From the spacious, dark, abandoned halls, you can go directly to the second level, which is illuminated and used daily, from where you can access the roof of the building with a direct view on the hippodrome. Abandonment and a strange sense of obesity are the only constant impressions, the atmosphere changes and it the general impression.
1. What: Sugar Factory
2. Where: Radnicka 3, Cukarica, Belgrade
3. How to get there: Tram: 12, 13 Bus: 23, 37, 51, 52, 53, 55, 56, 85, 88, 89, 91, 92, 511, ADA – 1,2,3,4,5
LINK TO THE MAP
4. Entrance: The facility of the old machine hall is open and easy to access, it was once conected with the old drying facility by the passage, however this passage is closed today and the access to the dryer is difficult, in order to get inside you have to go over the fence. There is a guard who is responsible only for the part of the “Vrenje” factory and who did not have a problem with our exploring. The “KPGT” theater can be visited during working hours.
5. Assessment of accessibility: 6/10
6. Hazards: High danger of the building colapsing, especially in the old drying facility. The construction is in a very bad condition. Minimal risk of stray dogs.