Highlights of Architecture in Croatia

by Vesna Balta on October 3, 2013

program-kongresa

In the first days of autumn, with some moisture in the air but still a pleasant weather for sightseeing, on 27th September until the 29th September 2013. the 4th Congress of Croatian Architects took place in the city of Osijek.

It was the fourth Congress of architects in Croatia, with some 600 architects participating. The Congress was under high sponsorship of the presidents of the state Ivo Josipovic and it was also attended by the Minister of Construction and Physical planning Mrak Taritaš as well by the Minister of Tourism  Lorencin.

program-kongresaPrior national Congresses of Architects have been in Zadar in 2004, with the theme of not regulated construction on the Croatian coast, in 2007 in Opatija with the theme of response and ability, responsibility;  and in 2010 in Split with the theme Apolitics 2013.

For this years congress, the theme was the Earth. The event was organized by HKA (Croatian Chamber of Architects) and UHA ( Croatian Association of Architects).

20130928_171813_aThese congresses are always occasions where architects are highlighting the challenges as well as concluding about the contemporary state in the profession. If one really wants to overview the state of the Croatian architecture then it is a range of different themes  that should be discussed. And, so there were very diversified themes presented in these three days of the condensed program.

Nevertheless the theme of architecture could not go without exceptional exhibitions, like the exhibition titled: "The architecture in the paradise: the alternative methodology of the contemporary Croatian architecture" that was initiated in London in 2010, then shown in Tokyo for the World congress of architects in 2011 and in Maribor in 2012.

There was also an exhibition of the well known secession style Osijek architect Viktor Auxmann, and another important exhibition was the one of the laureate’s work of Croatian contemporary architecture. In the next lines I am going to illustrate the themes and problems that were discussed in these three days in the beautiful surrounding of the inner space of the Croatian National Theatre in Osijek.

The overall theme of the Congress was the Earth, even though the contemporary hardest architecture issue is the existence of the profession itself. One of the most important question discussed was the implementation status of the document Apolitics 2013 that was the theme of the last architects Congress. It was stated that Ireland succeeded to put their architectural politics in action after 7 years of active implementation politics.

Another important issue is the question of existence of strategies. Some of the ministries are still working on producing these strategies according to the EU 2020 demands. The Ministry of Tourism has presented that they have already done it in the spring 2013 and it is made as well for the monitoring process for years to come.

20130928_102211_aThe question about the new Construction law that is to be official in the beginning of 2014 was inevitable and perceived as one of the most important issues of the Congress. The goal of the new law would be to speed up the process of getting permits and it would be done in a way that concerns architects because of the procedure that would, for the profession,  going to be heavily changed.

Another important question is whether the cultural heritage is a burden for us or an asset. The Ministry of Tourism has the aim to collaborate and introduce the strategic national projects in cultural touristic heritage field for EU funding.

The issue about the architectural competitions concluded that competitions are  really producing the highest result but they are used too rarely and only for public buildings.  The goal would be to get the architecture of the highest quality in everyday life, in private houses and apartment buildings. 80 percent of professional laureates this year comes from the competitions. Also, the new legal act regarding competitions would be done in the scope of the new construction law.

The theme of low tech and handmade architecture was discussed. Norms for this type of architecture are not available domestically but are used  from Austria and Germany.

Mario Cuicinella slideVery interesting was also the theme about ecological capacity presented by a respective Italian architect Cucinella. Architecture is responsible and very dangerous activity that could leave heavy and bad result behind. Innovation is though the foundation of architecture. Contemporary question about architects is the gap between the technological approach that is used by the civil engineers and the aesthetic approach that is used by the contemporary architect.

The task is to combine these two approaches into one person that has the role of an architect.  The crisis situation is really the possibility too evolve architectural profession in this direction. Low-energy/hi tech approach was presented in illustration of a doctor in Sahara desert going to see his patient. The technological innovation contributes in the energy efficiency in volume of 17 percent and the design of the building contributions with about 36 percent. So, this is again the evidence that  an architect should conduct the process of constructing buildings.

20130928_112151_aDanish  architect Becker pointed out the project management as the basis of the successful completion of the design made on paper. He explained from his experience that  the process begins with collecting the data, analysis of the data, strategic concept and then the architectural design comes to place.

Also , the recent legalisation of buildings for the purpose of harmonizing with EU was highlighted and the conclusion was that lots of rehabilitation should be done.

The theme about rural areas of Croatia concluded that one third the country’s citizens live in the capital of Zagreb, where more than 55 percent of the country´s investments are made.

Only 6 percent of Croatia citizens live in the rural third the country. The big question about EU funding from previous Ipard program is now replaced with the Leader funding that is even more complex and with more investment capacity. This shows the truth about the low receiving capacity of Croatia and this is because of the problems such as: aging, exodus of the most active and the most capable people, etc.

Also, the techniques of architectural design process were discussed in the lecture of the architect Scandurra through a method named active reading. The process is done with the photo camera, almost like taking the soul out of the space.

20130929_132158_aThe environmental questions were presented through the process of preparing study of the environmental impact with lots of variables that could be calculated with PC. And other point of view towards environment was presented in showing how the neglected park could harm the building. There are many examples of buildings that are now considered to be demolished because of the neglected nature around the objects.

The British RIBA was presented by Mr Robinson and Ms Brady. Architect Brady accentuated the support needed for the liberation of women in this scope of architecture profession.

The overall conclusion of the Congress was presented by architects Curkovic, President of the Croatian Chamber of Architects, architect Hrabak, President of the Croatian Association of Architects and architect Cvjetko Jerković, organization board president. They concluded with the list of the elements needed for improving the situation in Croatian architecture: cohesion inside the profession, building the strategy, more activism, involvement in politics and re-establishment of values.

A one page summary of the conclusions can be downloaded by clicking on the link below.

 

And in the end, one very obligate and typically architectural question was overviewed; What is the current trend in architecture? Well, the answer is sustainable and energy efficient design.

About Vesna Balta :

Vesna Balta is a PhD from the Technische Universitat in Graz, Austria and a licensed architect. She is a Director at Bearing Consultings office in Zagreb and participates in projects across Bearings global practise. The main focus of her work is on project concept development, preparations and planning for structural funds projects in the European Union.

Ms. Balta is also the head of the EU funds section in the Croatian Chamber of Architects. She leads the education for Croatian architects with the theme of the structural funds in Croatia.

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