Paper presented at the XXXIII IAHS World Congress on Housing, 27-30 September 2005,"Transforming Housing Environments through Design", University of Pretoria.
A rough estimate brings the total damage in the 1991/92 war in Eastern Croatia to nearly 24.000 dwellings (houses and flats). Many protected historical inner city cores as well as complete traditional villages suffered serious damages or were completely destroyed. If one can state that every region, not only in geographical but also in spiritual sense, corresponds with physical and spiritual sphere, begin realized and lasting through time, then we must conclude that this time element was by physical war destruction systematically removed from the towns and villages of Eastern Croatia. The main task of reconstruction therefore should have been in bringing back this time element by rebuilding those physical links with the past. This paper deals with reconstruction of these towns and villages where on one hand there was tendency to abandon the traditional model of a row-village and to replace it with buildings adopting models from models from another culture, completely strange to this particular region. In order to speed the return of the refugees the tendency continued after the war and the villages were rebuilt with off-the-peg houses of quite different character to the traditional one, modeled on different cultural model. The possibility of interpreting in a creative way the great qualities of traditional villages: ecological, economical, sociological and last but not least architectural qualities was lost in reconstruction. The reconstruction in the historical towns, besides complete reconstruction of the buildings in the very city cores in some examples, also shows a disrespect for the traditional way of life. Introducing housing models from another culture and other regions very rarely interpreting in a creative way the previous architectural identity of the area.