Quality of living in the Housing Estates of the socialist and post-socialist era: a comparative analysis between Slovenia and Croatia



Project description

Quality living in socialist-era and post-socialist housing estates: a comparative analysis between Slovenia and Croatia​

Housing is one of the basic and most complex human goods. It is defined by many characteristics that determine the quality of living. In this research project, we treat housing as a good with physical and substantive characteristics, which are important indicators of its useful value or key indicators for measuring any changes in residents’ social values, which are reflected in their comprehension, perception, and needs regarding quality of living. In doing so, we focus on living in housing estates that were built under the socialist political and economic system and the subsequent transition to a market economy system (the post-socialist period). We proceed from the hypothesis that the changed social circumstances that characterize the post-socialist period have brought the residents new expectations regarding quality of living, which (may) consequently mean that housing estates from the socialist period have become less attractive to live in, because the residents have higher expectations or demands for a better housing standard and better quality of the residential environment due to changed values with regard to quality of living in housing estates. The study is designed to be comparative, because we are testing the hypothesis in two countries, Slovenia and Croatia, which share the same foundation for the emergence of the large housing estates built during the socialist period. Both were constituent parts of socialist Yugoslavia. Like in other socialist countries of central and eastern Europe, the construction of these housing estates continued in Yugoslavia until the late 1980s. It ended only after the collapse of Yugoslavia and the introduction of a new sociopolitical and economic system, when new typologies of collective housing construction began to emerge. Housing estates of the post-socialist period usually include smaller individual residential buildings, with a smaller number of apartments and a lower number of residents. This primarily applies to Slovenia, whereas in Croatia the construction of high-density housing estates continued during the post-socialist period, which means that housing construction differences began to emerge between the two countries during the post-socialist period. However, despite these changes and differences, the large socialist-era housing estates in both countries still represent an important type of the housing environment, or a significant proportion of the total housing stock, which we assume (given the hypothesis) to be inadequate for quality living due to obsolescence and changed values, and which needs thorough regeneration. Nevertheless, neither of these countries has adopted a national strategy for regenerating large housing estates, or guidelines to ensure a better quality of the housing and living environment. This research project’s ultimate goal, therefore, is to define—from the quality of living perspective—guidelines and recommendations for the appropriate regeneration of housing estates from the socialist period and the design of new housing estates that can be used in both Slovenia and Croatia. The basis for formulating proposals for preparing both national strategies will be the set of similarities and differences in perceptions and comprehension of the quality of living among housing estate residents, and their needs stemming from the new lifestyle values. From this perspective the research will be original, and the guidelines developed will be relevant to other central and eastern European post-socialist countries, especially those that were once part of Yugoslavia. This research is also of particular importance methodologically, because participatory data collection methods will be used: participatory action research, user-led research, and open democratic forum. It is precisely the lack of public participation in defining problems and solutions that has been a frequent (and frequently criticized) problem in post-socialist countries.


Project team

The project team includes established Slovenian experts from Urban Planning Institute of the Republic of Slovenia and Croatian experts from Institute for Social Research in Zagreb, Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies, Institute of Economics and Faculty of Architecture, University of Zagreb.

Project leader of Slovenian experts:

  • Dr. Richard Sendi, Research Councillor (Urban Planning Institute of the Republic of Slovenia).

Project leader of Croatian experts:

Project team members in Slovenia:

  • Associate Professor Dr. Boštjan Kerbler, Professional Research Councillor (Urban Planning Institute of the Republic of Slovenia),
  • Dr. Barbara Goličnik Marušić, Research Councillor (Urban Planning Institute of the Republic of Slovenia),
  • Assistant Professor Dr. Matej Nikšič, Senior Research Associate (Urban Planning Institute of the Republic of Slovenia).

Project team members in Croatia:

SICRIS/CROSBI classifications:

Richard SendiAnđelina Svirčić Gotovac, Boštjan KerblerBarbara Goličnik MarušićMatej NikšičJelena Zlatar GamberožićRatko ĐokićMirjana Adamović, Sonja PodgorelecŽeljka Kordej-De VillaTihomir Jukić


Project phases

Project phases and their realization

The research project will last three years (36 months) and is divided into six work packages:

  1. Development and characteristics of housing estates in Slovenia and Croatia (6 months)
  2. Standards and criteria for quality living in housing estates and strategies for the regeneration and planning of socialist-era and post-socialist housing estates (10 months)
  3. Perceptions, needs, shortcomings, and recommendations regarding quality of living in housing estates (14 months)
  4. Guidelines for the regeneration and planning of housing estates in terms of ensuring adequate and desired quality of living (10 months)
  5.  Disseminating new insights and transfer of knowledge (36 months)
  6. Project management and coordination (36 months)



Reference arising directly from the project implementation:

  • Svirčić Gotovac, A., Zlatar Gamberožić, J., Podgorelec, S., Jukić, T., Kordej-De villa, Ž. (2021) Professional comparative study: Housing in Croatia and Slovenia in the socialist and post-socialist context (in Croatian)Zagreb, Institute for Social Research in Zagreb. To access the report click here.
  • Svirčić Gotovac, A., Zlatar Gamberožić, J., Nikšič, M. (2021) Public participation in post-communist cities between stagnation and progress: The examples of Zagreb and Ljubljana. Urbani izziv, 32(1), pp. 75–84. [COBISS.SI-ID 70014723] To access the article click here.

  • Sendi, R., Kerbler, B. (2021): The evolution of multifamily housing: Post-Second World War large housing estates versus post-socialist multifamily housing types in Slovenia. Sustainability13(18), pp. 10363. To access the article click here.


Dr. Richard Sendi (project leader)
Urban Planning Institute of the Republic of Slovenia
Trnovski pristan 2, 1000 Ljubljana


Assistant Professor Dr. Anđelina Svirćić Gotovac (project leader)
Institute for Social Research in Zagreb
Amruševa 11/II, 10000 Zagreb


The research project is supported by the Slovenian Research Agency
Grant numbers: J5-2569



The research project is supported by the Croatian Science Foundation
Grant numbers: IPS-2020-01-7036


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