Rebuilding Mostar: Urban Reconstruction in a War Zone

By John Yarwood Mbe; Andreas Seebacher et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 4
Urban planning

Pre-war Mostar had a good planning system, and I found that local colleagues from all backgrounds understood its purpose and value. Judging from the number of people employed in the various institutes, it was overmanned and bureaucratic. But the results were visibly good. Sensible land-use zoning was properly enforced. There was virtually no illegal development before 1990, when institutional processes began to disintegrate in the run up to war. Roads and infrastructure were well coordinated with development, properly finished and maintained. Some oppressive architecture was created in the 1950s, but more recently most projects or buildings had stylish, individual designs, and there were fewer aesthetic crimes than in the average west European city. Public landscape was surprisingly lavish. Conservation of the historic patrimony was well done in terms of the overall urban scene and also of individual buildings, although the approach to the repair of the Old Town was too interventionist.

Urban planning before the 1960s was, in all our countries, largely a matter of physical design, and most planners were, in fact, architects. The scope then expanded to incorporate concerns for economic and social development. Also the approach to implementation, in terms of finance and organisation, became far more diverse and dynamic. The stress shifted from the plan to the action, and the scope expanded from design of layout and appearance to encompass the whole urban process.

Now, therefore, one sees ‘planning’ (so-called) as central to the whole business of urban life. In Mostar, this mechanism was shattered, and I believed strongly that the recovery of this system was a vital objective for the EUAM and particularly that it was a vehicle to build unification.


Structure Plan for All Mostar

In October 1994 I asked both sides to nominate a chief planner, to join with me in setting up an All-Mostar Strategic Planning Team. At that time, no one had any ideas about the future pattern of local government in Mostar, and the national government did not exist in a form acceptable to both sides. Indeed the war was still in progress a few miles north of the city. As a result, we had no central ministries to consult and could not place our system in the context of a national system. An ad hoc spirit prevailed.

-28-

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