The opening of the new Zagreb airport terminal has inspired me to write about some of the most successful architectural projects of last decade or so in Croatia. Each project was very large with varying levels of difficulty. Most of them were adjusted during construction as challenges arose, but each project has received good feedback from both the community and professionals.
- The Museum of Vučedol Culture in Vukovar, Srijem (2015). Architects: Radionica Kulture (Iva Pejić, Goran Rako, Josip Sabolić i Mario Škarijot)
Vukovar, an old city that was situated on the banks of the Danube before the atrocities of war hit it in early 1990s, was a significant river harbour and a well-known site of the Neolithic Vučedol culture. This early copper-age culture was spread out over parts of the Pannonian plain and the Western Balkans, which in Croatia is situated in the regions of Slavonija and Srijem.
Since this Vučedol archaeological site is of great importance on both a national and a regional scale, the Croatian Government decided to support a demanding project to build this exquisite building, which incorporates the archaeological site and museum.
The architecture is incorporated into the landscape, and wide terraces and ramps are built into the surrounding environment giving access to the museum. This successfully integrates the architecture with the green valley of Srijem and the Danube river nearby.
The archaeological site is accessible not only through the museum but also by means of the green roof, and thus when walking through the museum you pass a part of the site.
- The Lone Hotel in Rovinj, Istria (2011). Architects: Studio 3LHD
This hotel looks powerful. On the outside it reminds me of a modern ship, but on the inside you feel like you are in a modern museum. Its construction is minimalistic and modern – horizontal cubes with soft angles and terraces that look like stripes.
Among its green surroundings, the building looks very sophisticated. The Lone Hotel opened a few years ago and gained recognition not only as a successful architectural piece, but also as a well-equipped hotel.
It stands in a small bay where it is well incorporated into its natural surroundings. On the one side of it is the little peninsula, and on the other is the old town, making its offer very appealing. Apart from having the hotel for entertainment, you therefore also have access to both nature and nightlife.
- The Sea Organs in Zadar, Dalmatia (2005). Architects: Nikola Bašić, Ivica Stamać, Vladimir Andročec and Atelier Heferer
The Sea Organs are situated in the western part of the Zadar peninsula.
They are 75 m long and have been completely built into the sidewalk. Underneath the simple stone steps are pipes that produce a sound each time a wave hits the shore. The unique sounds and their simple architecture has become the symbol of Zadar.
This is a great example of how to change an ordinary boardwalk into an interesting and calming attraction. The pleasant sea surroundings and a sunset that is, according to Alfred Hitchcock, the most wonderful in the world, adds more charm. When the weather is nice, the stairs (that resemble large stone beds) get pleasantly warm and people have been known to lay down here and soak up the sun.
- Academy of Music at the University of Zagreb, Zagreb (2014). Architect: Milan Šosterić
From the get-go, I must say that this project was a very challenging one, due both to the parameters thereof and the space available.
The academy was built in Zagreb’s historic square on a site where a previous building had stood forgotten for decades. Back in the day, it was supposed to be a modern building representative of the 1960s, but the project was changed so much during construction that the architect, Stanko Fabris, completely distanced himself from it out of dissatisfaction. After years of back-and-forth attempts to revalorise this unfortunate building, the City of Zagreb finally accepted the project proposal of the young architect Milan Šosterić and the University of Zagreb’s Academy of Music finally got a home after years of waiting.
The original building was partly destroyed, but the new project nicely pays homage to it as the new building’s height and volume more or less corresponds to the old. The front facade has kept with the idea of a glass grid, but Šosterić has added some young charm to the building, such as the big concert hall situated on the roof that is painted in a rainbow palette. Although this cheerful building seems a bit out-of-place in its surroundings, I find it very charming.
- Airport Franjo Tuđman, City of Zagreb and City of Velika Gorica (2017). Architects: Branko Kincl, Velimir Neidhardt, Jure Radić
There came a time when Croatia needed to adapt itself to modern standards and let go of old and small communistic buildings.
The new terminal of Zagreb’s Franjo Tuđman (the first president of Croatia from 1991-2000) Airport, is a small terminal located not far from the old one. It consists of two main parts – a square building with its characteristic wavy roof, and a curved tube that looks as if it has been “squeezed” to which the airplane ramps are connected. The basic materials are glass and steel.
I find the subtle contrast between the interior and exterior very appealing. Outside, shape is the overpowering element, but inside you find that the open construction becomes the attraction.
Realising the project was very complex. In spite of this, the final product has proven to be satisfactory to public and passengers alike, and the terminal has become the star of Croatia’s capital!