Contemporary Croatian Architecture - A Discussion

discussion participants Nikola Bašić, Ante Nikša Bilić, Emil Jurcan, Maroje Mrduljaš, Hrvoje Njirić, Idis Turato

Discussion framework: the generic and the specific 
Maroje Mrduljaš: Oris magazine covers architecture in Croatia, region and the world in concentric circles. We are especially interested in environments that are not part of the so-called big cultures, and the focus of our interest is Croatia whose architectural production we try to place in a wider global context. A question is raised of what national architecture means in the time of globalization and total social networking? Does the theory of critical regionalism still work, where authentic architecture is formed through the complex relations and influences of the local culture and universal civilization? When we speak of Croatian architecture, do we refer to the cultural context, socio-political context, issues of climate and regionalism or something else?  
Nikola Bašić: If there is an American, Portuguese or Scandinavian architecture, there is no reason there should be no Croatian architecture. Our urban planning and architectural heritage is superior to many architectural cultures we love to imitate. We should not run after everyone fearing we would be too late because there, where the others are trying to come, we have already arrived a long time ago. When I speak of Croatian architecture, I do not refer to style narratives, although derivation or transposition of something that comes from the depth of the tradition and heritage can be identified in many of my projects. When I speak of national architecture, I primarily refer to culture and the dimension of national culture that could and should be promoted by architecture. I do not understand why we are afraid and reluctant to speak about Croatian architecture while we happily discuss Croatian literature or Croatian music. It may be because today it seems anachronous to speak about any type of national value. It seems very conservative and architecture always and completely has to be avant-garde. All the more so, since the world of today is amazingly convergent, compressed and merged into one. We are on the edge of something which could be called collective consciousness on the planetary level. The concept of distance is disappearing; temporal or spatial, and we are fast approaching the ultimate state – realization of unity. We may well be in the anteroom of this tremendous state, the realization of the promised paradise bliss, where we will all be one, understand each other well and think the same. Despite this fact, I see the global world as a mosaic and I still stand by that metaphor. We have to accept that we are part of the mosaic, pixelated world, but we should make sure that our specific pixel has a special glow, colour and identity. Croatian architecture should have that kind of an identity.