Promenade with a mysterious appeal
ZADAR (HR) - Public space and the sea, or perhaps rather public space alongside the sea, has long been a matter of consuming interest to Zadar-based architect Nikola Bašić.
The Zadar Quay Development Plan was commissioned by city and port authorities in order to resolve a burning (local) infrastructural problem – namely, docking space for tourist cruisers. To this technical and bureaucratic sounding commission, the architect added two poetic values, thereby transforming a utilitarian transport quay into a public space. The first added value, the Sea Organ, was completed in 2005.
The second is an amphitheatre called the Sun Monument. Its arena uses photovoltaic cells to capture sunlight by day and send it out again at night. At the time of writing, the building is still to be added onto the taut arc of the Zadar quay from which the sunset behind the archipelago was once much admired by Alfred Hitchcock, who is reported to have been in love with a maid of one of the nearby hotels.
The Sea Organ is actually a system of organ pipes activated by the kinetic energy of the waves breaking against the shore. The external form, sequences of simple rectangular stone blocks, is extremely austere. All the luxury and opulence is in its resonance. Passers-by do not interrupt their stroll merely to sit by the sea or to enjoy the view. Instead they are captivated by the sound of an instrument played by a primordial creative force. Through scarcely visible square openings in the front faces of the highest steps come the tones of an ever-changing composition.
The promenade along the quay descends to sea level at this spot via an elegant double flight of steps split into seven parts; the width of each section corresponds to the different lengths of the organ pipes located below the massive white stairs. Sets of five pipes dimensioned according to selected tones of the diatonic scale are located under each section of the stairs.
Just how appealing the mystery of this continues to be is shown again and again by the interest evinced by the citizens and many tourists. Instead of the usual monuments, pines, beaches and fishing vessels in the red of the setting sun, the cover of last summer's local tourist brochure was graced by the Sea Organ, which is proving a brilliant contribution to the vivacity of this Mediterranean town.
January | 2006 | Croatia | Krunoslav Ivanišn