A guide to the New East
Photography

Summertime Split: modernist architecture with a mediterranean flavour

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The Croatian seaside town of Split, situated on the Adriatic coast, is one of the best preserved sites of Roman architecture. Yet while most tourists flock to the grandiose, fortress-like Palace of Diocletian, where popular series Game of Thrones has been filmed in recent years, designer and photographer Vedran Kolac took an interest in the coastal town’s modernist architecture. He first travelled to Split in 2012, staying in an apartment a stone’s throw away from the palace. When he returned a year later he rented a room in a high-rise on the east side. “Living there changed my view of the city. That was the time when I discovered Split 3, a dramatic concrete complex that’s somewhere between architecture and sculpture,” Kolac describes. The complex dates back to the late 1960s, when it was built to house 50,000 residents. “An important characteristic of Split 3 is its return to the basic elements of urban planning — the street and square. This came as a reaction to the monofunctional design seen in Zagreb and other cities in Yugoslavia,” he continues. What makes it so striking is its cascading cubist form. “The buildings on the north side are taller than those on the south side. Pedestrian streets are spread east to west and cars are parked on the north side behind the tall buildings. This kind of design offers an unobstructive view from both sides of the street. What's more, the small cubes on top of the facades were made to become birds nests.”

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