Mela Zuljevic is a PhD student working with the ‘Spatial Capacity Building’ research group at the Faculty of Architecture & Arts, University of Hasselt. Her research is interested in the uses of the past in design within the context of spatial development. She previously studied at the University of Sarajevo, with a BA in Product Design and MA in Visual Communications. She worked as assistant professor at the Interior Design Department of the ‘Dzemal Bijedic’ University of Mostar. In 2008, she co-founded Abart – a collective interested in artistic and curatorial practices focusing public space and memory in the city of Mostar in relation to its post-war division and reconstruction. With Abart, she worked on multiple art-based and research projects and collaborated with different art and cultural organisations in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Her most relevant design, research and curatorial collaborations include: Transition Landscape Atlas (UHasselt & Timely Productions, 2019-2020),The Politics of Design: Act 1 (UHasselt & Z33, 2018), WegenWerken (UHasselt, 2017 – 2018), Work(ing) Transition (De Andere Markt, 2017), Bauhaus goes South-East Europe (Bauhaus University Weimar, 2013-2015), (Re)collecting Mostar (Abart, 2010-2011), Art in Divided Cities (Abart, 2008-2009). In 2019, she was engaged as a designer for the Zenica Trilogy exhibition, Pavillion of Bosnia and Herzegovina at the 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. She is a member of the Situated Imaginaries network (sit-im.org).
In her PhD research, Mela focuses on the uses of the past in design processes within the context of spatial development with a motivation to explore how ideas of ‘development’ are conceptualised, staged and challenged, by mobilising the past as a resource. The research is interdisciplinary – starting from design studies (in particular, participatory design and design anthropology), it engages with historical research and critical approaches to spatial development. The project looks at specific case studies related to the heritage-making and spatial transformation of post-industrial landscapes, primarily in the context of Genk and Leuven (BE). Within her fieldwork, Mela has collaborated with different actors in these cities on design and research projects concerning the past and future transition of road infrastructures, post-industrial areas and garden city neighbourhoods. By making a ‘Transition Landscape Atlas’, she works with different design and collaborative methods, in particular mapping and video-making.