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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
The plans by the authorities in Skopje to give the city a facelift, and the mushrooming of statues in the city centre, have been marred by controversy and met stiff resistance from some city residents.

They that feel these statues, and proposed changes to the facades of buildings in Skopje’s downtown, are kitschy and follow the same unfortunate logic as the House of Mother Theresa, the eclectic spaceship-like architectural ensemble built recently in Skopje.

It is not clear whether the “Skopje 2014” project is simply about rebuilding Skopje and giving it a new look, or about redefining the lost soul and identity of the city.

The plans for Skopje have also been estimated to cost about 200 million euro, a very high sum at a time of economic crisis, which the country has unfortunately been going through for most of the past 20 years since independence from former Yugoslavia. Indeed, this project is indicative of the identity crisis that the country and nation have been going through since that independence.

For Skopje, the question of its lost identity dates back to the devastating earthquake that hit the Macedonian capital in 1963, destroying most of the old city. Until then, Skopje had a population of only about 200,000 inhabitants (now it is about 700,000), which classified it as one of the smaller cities in former Yugoslavia.

In an impressive show of solidarity, the world mobilized to rapidly “rebuild” the city with a new, then modern, look, commissioned by the then Yugoslav authorities. The aesthetics were not questioned in 1963 as there was a higher humanitarian urgency to build homes for people without roofs over their heads. Thus, Skopje became a new Socialist super-city, with new job possibilities but without the charm and spirit of the past.

“Skopje 2014” threatens to recreate the 1963 scenario all over again. The project seems to serve the notion of urban disintegration rather than instill a sense of common ownership and of belonging. It has already invigorated the existing divides in Skopje’s different communities, be they religious, ethnic or political.

Gradual improvements and development are natural and are to be encouraged, as they are by nature progressive and dynamic. However, the shock-and-awe nature of “Skopje 2014” is a step too far, and therefore resistance to it is also legitimate.

The government argues by drawing parallels to other European cities that have churches and monuments in their city centres. They fail to recognize that those monuments and buildings were erected gradually, over the long term, and have a distinctive meaning for the cities’ inhabitants. They either signify a specific period in the city’s history, or a specific event that has contributed to the identity of the city, the nation and its people.

In the case of Skopje this project will simply mark the political ascendancy of the VMRO-DPMNE, its coalition ally, the DUI, and the smaller, less significant parties in this coalition.

It is clear that Skopje needs to be improved and made more culturally accessible through the building of sculptures and constructions. Not all the proposed ideas in the “Skopje 2014” plan are bad or kitsch. Ironically the entire debate on the issue seems to be wrongly directed towards discussing whether Skopje will look modern or ugly, or grandious or metropolitan. The issue at hand is moch more profound on an existential level for the residence of Skopje and generally for the whole country. What is lacking in the debate is an explanation on the part of the creators of the “Skopje 2014” scheme and the contextual relevance of this project – alongside a clear policy rationale, outlining Skopje’s urban strategy. Secondly, the whole process of urban change must be made more democratic and transparent, involving all citizens and working on a basis of compromise.

Skopje is a mixed city with mixed needs. Finding the right balance that satisfies most people would be the right recipe and could serve as a symbol of integration and bringing people together. The worry is that the “Skopje 2014” mega-project will not be remembered in the future for its significance but as a reflection of an immature and defunct cultural policy, and for its utter lack of diplomacy and political vision.

That necessary spirit of compromise is not achieved through impulsive proposals, rushed decisions and short films created behind the closed doors of government-sponsored agencies. The current proposal and the way this government has chosen to implement it not only has the opposition up in arms but also the Albanian community, which makes up roughly 30 per cent of the country’s population.

Because of this “Skopje 2014” cannot be a good idea, as it marks out the city as a dividing factor in society. No one wants to live in a city they do not feel part of – and in a democracy no one should be excluded from being part of such important processes and decisions.

A new identity cannot be simply imposed on Skopje. Giving the city a new look will not change the city’s overall attitude and mood. It is the people who make the city and give it its charm and therefore investment in people in essential. Without real content and a sensible policy strategy, it seems Skopje will remain just as repressive and mentally entrapping as it is today – no matter what it looks like.

To make a hotspot of Skopje, to create a regional cultural centre and give a contemporary metropolitan feel to the city – we need to identify first and foremost what for us is metropolitan. What are our selling points on a glocal level? In other words, Skopje requires a sound cultural policy developed in a participatory manner. This can then generate ideas on how best to make use of the amazing human and creative resources available in the city, such as the excellent young urban artists and the visual concepts generated in the ateliers in Debar Maalo and Stara Carsija. Only then can one jointly answer the more overarching question on metropolitanism and identify our own civilizational attributes.

Artists need to be given the possibilities of producing more, and of having the space to present their works. We need artists from other countries to take part in our cultural space and help us recreate our city with participation, by all, in their own way. These are some of the activities that will embed a cultural narrative and reasoning within the future urban constructions in Skopje and which will instill spirit, pride and identity into its people.

Some of the proposed sculptures in “Skopje 2014” might give a positive impetus to such cultural development – as kitsch sometimes provokes real art. Such was the case with the golden toilet seat installed in the Skopje city square as a reaction to the sculptures commissioned by the Ministry of Culture a few years back.

But today’s spirit in Skopje flows from the current spirit of its residence; its youth and the contemporary problems of its population in general, from social problems like the overwhelming presence of homeless persons on the streets, to political ones, like the name dispute with Greece.

Consequently, Skopje requires sculptures that are progressive in idea, freedom oriented and emotional in character; works that reflect the evolution of Macedonia’s identity under the tough and unfortunate decades of economic gloom, social fragmentation and political hardship. Then, Skopje will be a cultural urban city, linking its people not only to 2014 but also back to 1945, 1990, 1995, and 2001, as well as to the future, with equal pride.


Some of the projects













And some of the current projects. Actually there are a lot of projects so I will post a map.

U/C Pictures not earlier than 15 August 2010.

Map with the projects and monuments.



Ustaven Sud/National Court





Nacionalen Teatar/National Theater







Museum of VMRO



Narodna Banka/National Bank



Holocaust Memorial Center





Fountains in river Vardar



Renovated and illuminated Kale fortress



Monuments



Lions on the both sides of the main bridge in the City Center named Goce Delcev













 

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Any towers U/C ???( The actuall projects showed here look great)
Well there is a place sold to a Turkish company in Municipality of Aerodrom in Skopje for 4*40 (~160m) floors towers, mostly apartments, flats but there will be some space for offices. There are no renders yet. Or news about it. But the investor must start with the construction of the buildings in 9 months after the sell, so it could be soon.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Map of the current project. Because Skopje 2014 is somewhat controversy project because of the money that will be spent and also huge one but surely it will be an attraction.
Also I dont know for such a massive project not just in the region but in the whole Southeast Europe.

Because Skopje 2014 includes so much projects I added a map with the projects and monuments.
 

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Jedino, od svih spomenika oko Vardara i kamenog mosta, kako nma spomenika Caru Dusanu? Tu je bila prestonica, tu se krunisao, i most se , kako ga ja pamtim , zvao Dusanov most?
Inace, ovaj stil , kao neka vrsta pseudo klasicizma je skroz OK. Mogli ste da gradite celik, beton staklo i svakakve dzidzu bidze, ali meni je ovo bolje.
Ima onih koji ovo pljuju i kritikuju, ali kad bude gotovo, generacije ce uzivati u novom-starom centru.
 

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Of course it is but let's not start a flame war...
Anyway, apart from it's historical controversy, I don't like the composition. IMO, the statues etc are too big for the square and I, personally, would feel claustrophobic. But please, keep us up to date with the different parts of the project, and the reactions to it.
 

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Мостот отсекогаш се викал Камениот Мост, во Македонската историја има далеку повелики личности од цар Душан и навистина не гледам потреба да се постави негов споменик на централниот плоштад во Скопје.
 

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Very impressive project, although specific architecture chosen for each buildings could have been better, in my opinion. What's important is that a city is planning in an ensemble, rather than "stick it where it fits."
 
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