25 March 1993
Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina
What a hectic but fruitful first day in Mostar!
Today marks our first presentation of Project : Mostar 1993 to the Ministry of Post Conflict Rehabilitation. About a month ago, I received an unexpected phone call from Minister Dobroslav to take up a reconstruction job for Mostar. In the conversation, he sounded rather positive and constantly expressed his high expectation for the project as the state government is ready to invest more in Mostar, due to its potential of becoming another socialist catalyst city in the Bosnian region after Sarajevo. He wanted the damaged city to be redesigned from a utopian point of view, which should reflect the characteristics of Yugoslav architecture - experimental, decentralised and permissive.
As a Yugoslavian, I always acknowledge the fact that our architecture has been a contrast to the principles of Socialist realism, serving the late President Josip Broz Tito’s wish to emphasise our country’s independence from the Soviet Union since the late forties. Bogdan Bogdanovic’s work is one of the best examples to represent Yugoslav architecture for its experimental, archaic and mythological forms. Ever since Tito’s death in 1980, Yugoslav architecture has been losing its sparks, mainly due to political instabilities. We almost forgot how Yugoslav architecture excelled at its technology advancement after World War II, how we attracted worldwide attention for our intensive experiments in reinventing social relations, how we plunged into experimentation and utopian thinking without reservation for creating futuristic yet pragmatic architecture.
In today’s meeting, we presented the utopian architecture of Mostar through some designs for postcards and collages of some of Vjenceslav Richter’s works. The Ministry was very impressed by the design methodology as well as the idea of continuing and realising Vjenceslav Richter’s concept of “sinturbanizam” (synthesis urbanism), probably the only full-fledged utopian vision ever imagined in the socialist Yugoslavia back in the fifties. The idea is to compress the cities into “ziggurats” to solve the problem of mobility and to minimise time wasted in travelling. Its signature shape is formed by apartment units cascading down its sides, each with a generous terrace. The intention is to have each ziggurat functioning as a self-managing community, with all living functions as part of the collective organism, gaining a sense of belonging and responsibility. Richter’s sinturbanizam is contemporary to Yona Friedman’s urban voids, Japanese Metabolism and Archigram due to their shared characteristics: a focus on mobility, a technocratic approach to solving problems, organicism as the underlying metaphor for the solution and megastructure as specific form of solution.
Despite the Ministry’s ambitious vision for the future Mostar, we also have a concern with preserving a handful of significant and repairable post-war monuments in Mostar, like the Neretva Hotel, Bristol Hotel, Razvitak Mall, Beirut Apartment and Mostar Railway Station, which we have successfully incorporated in today’s proposal. We are glad that the Ministry shares our thoughts, as we believe this city needs a proper representation of its past for a dynamic and optimistic future, carrying the mutual culture and symbolism vital to its society.
Drawing techniques : Digital collage, paper & card modelling, wood block modelling, 3D modelling.