With its upcoming double symposium KotorAPSS further establishes a small Montenegrin town as an international hot spot for architectural thinking and advances the debate on decaying places of the recent past and their possible futures.
Boka Kotorska Bay cuts the Adriatic Montenegrin coast like a Norwegian Fjord. Once a hideout for pirates and smugglers it also was an important commercial trade hub and naval base.
The region once belonged to the Illyrian Kingdom, the Roman Empire and later to the Byzantine Empire. The Venetians ruled until the late 18th century, followed by the Austrians, and troops of Napoleon. From here Mediterranean cultures spread into the Balkan. Especially since UNESCO declared the natural and culture-historical region Kotor a world heritage site in 1979 the city and the bay have become an increasingly popular daytrip location for cruise ship tourism along the Adriatic coast.
While the distant past is embodied in the old town behind the thick city walls there is also a younger history that has left its traces, the recent past that manifests itself outside the historic center: Industrial developments from the first half of 20th century that have lost their uses and the empty shells of grand architectural projects built during the 1960s and 1970s in Ex-Yugoslavia when the Adriatic coast was a popular celebrity hot spot. While in Kotor local authorities sticking to the preservation of the past to further develop the cultural heritage as a consumption good for tourists that anchor in high-rise-like cruise ships in front of the city everyday. A lack of planning legislations in the past has enabled developers to scatter the landscape with their luxury look-alike all inclusive resorts.
This is the point of departure for KotorAPSS, The Architecture Prison Summer School, that seeks to redefine the approach on urban planning and design in the region. But how can the planning culture in Montenegro be positively influenced? “The simple answer is: You need to have decent architectural scene. And the most important step towards this is education,” states initiator and Montenegrin architect Dijana Vucinic. Since 2012 KotorAPSS has attracted thinkers and architecture scholars from all over the world and involved them not only in educating future architects of the Balkan region but also in forcing communication and public discussions with the intention to spark change on many levels.
KotorAPSS itself started off reactivating a massive abandoned structure at the center of the World Heritage Site that up until today resists a touristic appropriation: The former Austrian Hungarian prison from the 19th century is reflected in the summer school‘s name. Its thick cooling walls provide a unique location for focused working experience during hot Balkan summers.
Originating from the academic framework of APSS, in 2014 a curatorial team with Bostjan Vuga (Sadar+Vuga, Llubiljana), Simon Hartmann (HHF, Basel), Dijana Vucinic (DVARP, Podgorica) and German publishers Ilka and Andreas Ruby (Ruby Press, Berlin) initiated the exhibition in the Montenegrin Pavillon at the 14th Architecture Biennale di Venezia. The “Treasures in Disguise“-exhibition provided a spatial experience of the derelict ruins of the recent past, presenting them de-contextualized from their various socio-historical connotations. The Dom Revolucje (Home of Revolution) in Niksic – an oversized cultural palace originally designed in the late 1970ties but never completed – was part of the exhibition in the Palazzo Malpieri. In early 2016 the collaboration of Swiss architects HHF and Slovenian office Sadar+Vuga culminated in the winning proposal for the adaptation and reconstruction of the 22.000 square meter building as an urban landscape, suggesting a partial appropriation and re-integration into everyday life as an experimental approach to the reuse and preservation of post-modernistic socialist ruin.
The current show of this year’s Montenegrin pavilion at Venice Biennale, under the patronage of the Ministry of sustainable development and tourism and Government of Montenegro, takes up the objective to further establish and broaden the debate on decaying places of the recent past and their possible futures. With “Project Solana” commissioned by Dijana Vucinic architectural scholars Bart Lootsma and Katharina Weinberger are hosting four projects outlining different sustainable futures for the Solana Ulcinj, with a surface of 14.9 square kilometers one of the largest plants for salt production in the Mediterranean region. Lootsma and Weinberger describe the largest post-industrial landscape as “a completely artificial, man-made biotope which has taken on almost global importance as a crucial node in the migratory patterns of birds. As such, the Solana Ulcinj is the front line of all kinds of conflicts: between nature and culture; the local and the global; economy and environmental awareness.” ecoLogicStudio (London), LOLA (Rotterdam), LAAC (Innsbruck), and Marko Stjepčević and Nemanja Milićević from Podgorica developed four visionary future approaches to the site especially for the Biennale.
All four practices and the curators will participate in this year’s KotorAPSS Forum in Kotor between July 20 and 24. The double symposium „Re-Use“ and „The Debate“ continue to explore, discuss and conceptualize the reuse of abandoned and derelict buildings and places.
The discussion will be preceded by the RE-USE symposium on the 23rd of July. Participants include urbanist and researcher Haris Piplas of Urban-Think Tank, architecture offices HHF (Basel) and Sadar+Vuga (Llubiljana), architecture critic Maroje Mrduljaš, and KOSMOS architects, the “virtual office” of four Russian partners – each working for different architecture offices in Basel, New York and Moscow. With their urban make-over of an old factory site in central Moscow in summer 2015 KOSMOS demonstrated how USSR-era Moscow architecture could be creatively and cheaply revitalized. Also present is Ian Anderson of famous design practice The Designers Republic and the talk will be moderated by Luise Rellensmann, an architecture critic with a special interest in the heritage and conservation of the contemporary past and Miloš Kosec a theorist specializing in re-use approach.
THE DEBATE taking place on the 24th of July is the last of three symposiums accompanying the “Project Solana”. It will present and discuss the results of Project Solana Ulcinj for the national and international audience of KotorAPSS. THE DEBATE will be moderated by Siniša Vuković, a conflict management specialist researching various forms of international conflict resolution, negotiation and mediation.
Vuković gave an intro on the upcoming debate:
"Although it may seem counterintuitive, conflicts represent one of the most fundamental social dynamics. Based in a perception of incompatible interests, conflicts inspire social change, cultural formation, and psychological development. However, conflicts are often solely associated with a state of perplexity, due to the fact that they tend to represent volatile, unpredictable and often very destructive state of affairs. Yet, at a closer look, we can see that such circumstances are all but a rule to the norm. In fact, our everyday lives are actually a complex network of regulated conflicts. From traffic rules, to political elections, from sporting events, to urban planning, we see competing goals regulated through mutually acceptable means of communication. The source of all conflicts is a lack of information. Resulting from inability of unwillingness to acquire knowledge, the scarcity of understanding leads to a state of suspicion, mistrust and apprehension. The only remedy to such pernicious relations is open communication that can bring clarity, foster trust, and reduce uncertainty. The exchange of information will bridge the gap between those that entered the talks convinced that they are destined to be at odds. Talking will help them gain clarity about each others’ intentions, and help them realize that they have much more in common than what they initially thought. And most importantly, it will help them establish guidelines that will regulate their seemingly incompatible interests in a predictable manner. The present debate aims to provide a unique platform of communication for all societal agents interested in the future of Solana.
Solana represents an exceptional landscape, deserving a careful and meticulous consideration. Prior to the APSS debate, numerous important steps have been taken, which have raised awareness among numerous facets of society about Solana’s relevance. Architects, urban planners, landscape designers, ornithologists, members of civil society, decision-makers, and many others have emphasized unique features of Solana, in a way that often resembled mutual exclusivity. For this reason, the APSS debate will catalyze an in depth exchange of ideas how to best deal with such a complex issue as is the future of Solana. The debate will begin with the presentation of four proposals that were presented at the 15th International Exhibition of Architecture - La Biennale di Venezia, as part of the Montenegrin Pavilion. These four proposals will offer new ideas and visions on how to placate a variety of societal needs. While their scope may be very comprehensive, they will not shy away from constructive critique, in the hope of fostering sophisticated improvement and deeper sensitivity of social realities. As a result, in the second part of the debate, the four proposal will be contrasted with opinions and views coming from non-architectural spheres of life: from local communities, to wildlife preservationists, from social scientist to salt fields entrepreneurs. The variety of opinions and views, while seemingly incompatible at first, will be geared toward concrete suggestions and guidelines for future actions that will promote long-term sustainability: actions that will be inclusive of everyone’s needs, and sensitive to everyone’s expectations."
TitleRE-USE and THE DEBATE: 3rd Symposium on Project Solana Ulcinj
FromJuly 20, 2016 09:00 AM
UntilJuly 24, 2016 07:00 PM
VenueOld Cinema KINO BOKA, Old town Kotor