Artificial Mediterranean Arcadia

architects 3LHD
project Grand Park Hotel Rovinj, Rovinj, Croatia
written by Maroje Mrduljaš

Much like in other Mediterranean countries, tourism has been thoroughly transforming Croatian Adriatic coast through waves of modernisation since the late 19th century. It can be roughly divided into three modernisations, which are approximately synchronous with other similar European regions due to the trans-national and global character of tourism. The first modernisation refers to late 19th and early 20th century when the first tourist centres such as Opatija, Crikvenica, Lošinj, etc., were being developed. The second wave encompasses the rapid expansion of mass tourism during the 1960s and 1970s that thoroughly changed the urban physiognomy as well as the social practices of the entire coats. The third wave concerns the contemporary transformations of tourism under the influence of global phenomena such as the domination of digital technologies and traffic development, but also the deregulations of all domains including the development of the built environment. 

While the first two phases were rooted in coordinated large-scale investments and planned development, the third phase in Croatia is marked by the intertwining of the transnational and more substantial local capital with small private initiatives in the form of apartmanization. The state and the institutionalized urban planning are no longer the mediators of the development processes or coordinators of this land rush. The vision of tourism and the substantial part of the socio-cultural identity of the region are shaped in a fragmentary manner within the interplay of tourism experts, exchanging of information and experiences on social networks and online booking platforms. The expensive typology of the hotels acts as a money-making machine while the easiest move under the mentioned unstable circumstances, where all the criteria have become relative, is to utilize some combination of these safe bets: contextuality, generic neo-minimalism, and spectacle…