Graduation Year

2010

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.Arch.

Degree Granting Department

Architecture and Community Design

Major Professor

Michael Halflants, M. Arch.

Keywords

Public performance, Character preservation, Skateboarding, Graffiti artists, Space production

Abstract

Cities are increasingly becoming vessels of consumption, while various opportunities for production of space and public expression are taken away from the city's inhabitants. New architectural interventions often disregard a site's previously developed character and further aid in wiping away memories closely related to a city's cultural past. Banja Luka, the second largest city of Bosnia and Herzegovina, has been an important cultural center, even through years of unrest. Within the city's main plaza stands an unfinished concrete structure (Fig. 3), built with pre-war conceptions of a hotel. The structure's location within the city of Banja Luka has provided for a close connection with the city's inhabitants and has allowed them to relate to it directly on a daily basis.

The city's youth has left traces of artistic expression on this structure; its interface with the countercultures of graffiti artists and skateboarders has created a unique testament of time which desires continued narration. With the post-war privatization of most properties within the city, and the increasing desire to live within the city center, construction cranes are appearing throughout the city's core, providing new residential towers and a high increase in places for consumption. The opportunities for production of space, for places where memories are preserved and created, are decreasing and threaten to affect the thesis site. Completion of the project as initially envisioned would disregard the existing interactive relationship established between the city's inhabitants and the structure. The beauty of artistic expression cultivated upon the structure longs to be preserved and augmented in order to enable the structure's autonomy.

Recognition of the value of the existing built elements and the site's overall character is essential and requires purposeful evaluation in the unification process of the new and existing elements. The redefined space will become a monument to the activities which have echoed at the site through some of the toughest times the city's youth had to endure. "...the notion of monument I have sought to put forward here is bound up with the lingering resonance of poetry after it has been heard, with the recollection of architecture after it has been seen." (Solà-Morales Rubió, Ignasi and Sarah Whiting. Differences: Topographies of Contemporary Architecture (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1997), 71.) The old and new will become individual halves of one self, united as they continue to play.

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