Life: A User's Manual

project Jelkovec High School and Supporting Facilities, Novi Jelkovec, Zagreb, Croatia
authors Neno Kezić, Emilo Šverko
architectural office Arhipolis, Atelier Šverko i Šverko
written by Antonija Komazlić


The public utility complex in Novi Jelkovec in Zagreb consists of the Secondary School of Electrical Engineering, outdoor sports grounds, a three-part sports hall and an indoor swimming pool. The project proposed by Emil Šverko and Neno Kezić, with associates Goran Banić, Nora Roje and Antun Šverko, won the architectural and urban planning competition in 2003. The secondary school and the outdoor sports grounds were realized in 2014, and the sports hall in 2016. 


Architecture of functional typologies, designed primarily for educational and teaching purposes, within the public spaces of a residential development also accommodates social, public, cultural and sports and recreation amenities and fulfils the role of social integration. In addition to flexibility, multi-functionality and adaptability, design and technical solutions depend on the context and programme, as well as the social context. Since multifaceted needs are in question, it might be appropriate to adopt Christian Norberg-Schulz's theoretical framework  according to which formulating problems based on different (and often, conflicting) needs require an interdisciplinary or a social-humanities approach. In the words of Professor Eberhard Pook, this entails the concept of architecture as an interaction of constituting factors that seeks to understand the intentions, interests, thoughts and actions of all participants in the process of construction and use. Prerequisites and effects of architecture – the issues concerning the relation between the buildings and those who use them – depend on economic, political, social and psychological factors. In that sense, Norberg-Schulz considers it important to explore the experience – the concept of use in the widest sense – since, although often imprecise and subjective, it is a product of specific situations. Along these lines, Antoaneta Pasinović  calls for the return of the question of architecture under public scrutiny in its entirety and the valorisation of architectural production which constitutes the physiognomy of every city, which surrounds us and shapes our living environment and thereby people as well. This valorisation, in addition to the affirmation of the (social) responsibility of an architect to clarify the purpose and means of architecture, according to Norberg-Schulz would lead to the humanisation of life via making that production closer to the man-recipient.