Pharaoh-like Monuments and Castles of Intellect

written by Maroje Mrduljaš


Here, on the deserts of the Gulf coast, a private mountain was commissioned and successfully built. One hundred thousand trees, twenty thousand tons of marble are the ingredients of Xanadu’s mountain. Contents of Xanadu’s palace: paintings, pictures, statues, the very stones of many another palace – a collection of everything so big it can never be catalogued or appraised; enough for ten museums; the loot of the world. Xanadu’s livestock: the fowl of the air, the fish of the sea, the beast of the field and jungle. Two of each; the biggest private zoo since Noah. Like the Pharaohs, Xanadu’s landlord leaves many stones to mark his grave. Since the Pyramids, Xanadu is the costliest monument a man has built to himself.1


In 1983, Ivan Crnković achieved noticeable international success by winning first prize in the Shinkenchiku competition with his project ‘The New Croatian Castle or House with Six Identical Rooms’, which is a complete contrast to the amorphous Xanadu: a materialized obsession to compensate for inner spiritual emptiness with the physical staging of material power. ‘The New Croatian Castle’ is multilayered and full of traces which lead to the most diverse cultural references, from taking over the motifs of Le Corbusier’s surrealist solarium with fireplace in the Beistegui apartment to the quotation of a Hoffman entrance. Yet when the cultural layers, which serve as ‘discursive seduction’ or pleasure in architectural vocabulary, are ‘peeled off’ there remains a linear structure which questions the essence of ‘the issue of space’.



1Narrator of film news in the film Citizen Kane, directed by Orson Welles, 1941.