SIXTH ARCHITECTURAL WORKSHOP MOSTAR 2004, 2000

Sixth Architectural Workshop Mostar 2004, organised under the patronage of H.E. Alija Izetbegovic, President of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in cooperation with the Municipality of Mostar, 14-28 July 2000


The Sixth Architectural Workshop "Mostar 2004" organised by IRCICA jointly with the Municipality of Mostar, with the support and participation of international organisations and universities world-wide, was held in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on 14-28 July 2000. The series of Mostar 2004 Workshops is aimed at studying, rebuilding and preserving Islamic cultural heritage in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The previous workshops were the following:

The First Pilot Workshop on the Reconstruction of Mostar Old Town, organised at IRCICA with the cooperation of Yıldız Technical University, 25 July-25 August 1994

The Second Pilot Workshop, entitled "Architectural Heritage Today", in two stages: Istanbul and the Süleymaniye Area (1-27 July 1995) and the second phase of the Workshop Mostar 2004 (24 July-18 August 1995)

The Third Program, including the international seminar on Turkish Architecture and Settlements (Istanbul, Workshop: 9-26 June 1997, Seminar: 26-30 June) and the Mostar 2004 Workshop on Rebuilding the Old Town of Mostar (Mostar, 2-30 July 1997)

The Fourth Workshop (Mostar, 20-31 July 1998)

The Fifth Workshop (Mostar, 9-24 July 1999)

These workshops were organised with the support and cooperation of the City of Mostar, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (Geneva), UNESCO (Paris), the World Bank (Washington, D.C.), the World Monuments Fund (New York), other institutions and individual sponsors.

As reported by Prof. Arch. Amir Pasic, Supervisor of the program, the sixth workshop program began with a tour of the city during which the history of the program, workshop goals, and the workshop program were explained to the participants. An official opening ceremony was held on 14 July at Hotel Bristol, where a message from IRCICA Director General Prof. Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu was read. The municipal authorities, namely Mr. Safet Orucevic, Mayor of Mostar, and Mr. Neven Tomić, Deputy Mayor of Mostar, exposed the current situation of the city and their plans for future development. An evening seminar was conducted by Professor Ivo Banac to conceptualise the historical context.

The main themes of the sixth workshop were: bridging the boulevard, housing, war monuments, and individual projects. Each theme was elaborated upon through lectures, discussion and design sessions with inputs from all members. The participants worked on individual or small group projects during the day, and the evenings were reserved for lectures, individual presentations, and reports on work conducted between the annual workshops.

How to unite a divided city through design: bridging the boulevard

Neretva River has for centuries been a border, first between the Western and Eastern components of the Roman Empire, then between Orthodox and Catholic Christians and later between Christianity and Islam. Yet today at the city level, as a consequence of the war, the Boulevard is a psychological border between people. This in no way diminishes the need to rebuild the Old Bridge, which has always been the symbol of unity, but it does necessitate a reassessment of priorities. Lectures drew examples from other divided cities, such as Beirut, Belfast, Nicosia, Jerusalem and Berlin. Working groups were set up to work on the following aspects of the theme: movement on the Boulevard, landmarks, urban context, surfaces and details, borders, landscape. They proposed ways of breaking the barrier and connecting West to East.

How to improve the living conditions in Mostar

The issue of housing continues to be an important problem in Mostar. While the situation has undoubtedly improved since the armistice, the current condition is hardly commendable. The division of Mostar, creating two sectors with gross disparities in terms of housing stock; the abundance of foreign aid, which is a cause for concern in the current judicial vacuum; a lack of planning for the massive return of refugees, are all issues, amongst others, that need be confronted. Working groups dealt with the following aspects of the theme: traditional and collective housing, new housing, reuse/transformation, with subgroups looking into physical and environmental materials of the traditional 'mahala' residence, formal properties of the mahala neighbourhood such as streets and walls, comparison of neighbourhoods in several regions of Mostar, conversion of mahala residences into income-producing property, development of guidelines for construction of new residences, technical issues in the repair and rehabilitation of traditional housing, with special attention to the Kajtaz House; as regards collective housing, focusing analyses of different typologies of housing on the city scale of Mostar (mahala-type, Austro-Hungarian, slab housing, etc.), population density, differences in land use (public-private), possible adaptation of pre-war non-residential land to residential use. After discussions, the group chose five that were best for reuse and analysed each in a similar manner.

How to deal with war through architecture

The idea of a war monument brings with it many conflicting feelings and social issues that need to be discussed in the light of examples from world history. Any attempt to commit the memories of war to built form is understandably opposed by citizens, since they strive at the moment to forget the dire straits they have been through. Yet those born after the aggression will have a hard time remembering the war and its terrible consequences. Finding a suitable way of commemorating the war is an especially formidable task in this sensitive situation. The monument’s meaning from this perspective was discussed with Bogdan Bogdanovic, architect of the Memorial Partisan Park.

Individual projects

For the final project of the workshop the researchers were invited to select an issue or site of particular interest. Individually, or in small groups, they examined such issues as the rehabilitation of historical buildings, demography of squatter settlements, housing along the Radobolja River and the design of elements that 'cross the line' of the Boulevard. Other students went to those sites where rebuilding was underway to join in the physical work. Finally, some researchers used this opportunity to further develop work undertaken in previous sections of the workshop.

The following projects, which were initiated by individual researchers and small groups during the final phase of the workshop, will be completed over the next few weeks:

Post-war memorials: spontaneous/personal or organised design conceptions

Hotel ruža: opportunities for reuse and post-occupancy evaluation

'mahala' analysis with guidelines for rehabilitation and new development

Hands-on construction assistance

Re-design of the boulevard

Creation of a new town centre adjacent to the Spanish Square

Finding and supporting things that are crossing the line

Looking at pre-war Mostar; bridging the wounds while preserving absence

A post-occupancy evaluation of the Pavarotti Centre

Oral histories: international agencies, NGOs, displaced persons, relocated families

Measuring drawings and condition assessment of the Labyrinth Building on the East Bank

Developing model housing

Creating small interventions that help life along the Boulevard

A displaced Persons Training Centre

Demographic data gathering and analysis

Urban design for North Mostar: bus station to military campus

Radabolja housing

Landscape analysis of the area from the divergence to the convergence of the Radabolja

New single family housing near the M-17 Main Road

Compare and analyse three Austro-Hungarian landmarks

Collect and analyse workshop projects


The participants had two excursions during the workshop, one to Sarajevo, and one to Dubrovnik. In Sarajevo, there was a city tour followed by lectures about architecture in Sarajevo, at the University of Sarajevo. During the Dubrovnik trip, the group visited Ston on the way. This city settlement was designed and built for salt production in the 14th century. At Dubrovnik, the group had a city tour in the Old City.

A closing ceremony was held at the Training Centre, Mostar, on 28 July, in presence of the Mayor and the Deputy Mayor of Mostar. It was an occasion for the participants to evaluate the workshop and its themes. Each participant was presented with a certificate.

It was an honour for the organisers and the participants to receive Mr. Ivica Račan, Prime Minister of Croatia, as a guest at the closing ceremony. The Prime Minister was on an official visit in Bosnia and Herzegovina together with some Ministers from his Government. He addressed the ceremony, expressing his support for the rebuilding of the Old Bridge and the Old Town of Mostar and stating that Croatia was ready to contribute to the restoration activities financially and by other means.