Skopje - a disturbed city
Located in the belt of the Balkan Peninsula, restless, experienced by the past, looking with hope for the future - Skopje, the capital of Northern Macedonia, a city permanently connected with art with the world. Taken out of sleep, in the summer of 1963 was greeted by an earthquake measuring almost 6.1 on the Richter scale. 75 percent of the city was under the rubble, and the clock on the former building of the Main Post Office and train station will always show the time of 5.17, constantly reminding of the former cataclysm.

However, the turbulent history or experience of the tragedy was not a reason for the Skopians to be stuck in the lethargy of pondering and mourning. Quite the opposite - it has contributed to the immediate advance of life, organizing the community and the city again. An impressive number of organizations and countries that were helping and hoping for a better tomorrow joined the stages of reconstruction and raising life from the ruins. Despite the loss of significant achievements for centuries, Skopians could also count on automatic and selfless solidarity on the part of artists from around the world. As a gift, the city was given artworks that were not only to be the beginning of the collection, but also to determine the new identity of the city, which arose from debris.

As a gift, the Capital City of Warsaw decided to hand over the plans of any public building, which - as it turned out later - became the edifice of the future Museum of Contemporary Art by the decision of the Skopje authorities. The architectural competition was announced by SARP on January 9, 1966. Almost 90 projects came before the commission, of which the project proposed by the Tigers, i.e. a team composed of Wacław Kłyszewski, Jerzy Mokrzyński and Eugeniusz Wierzbicki, was the winner.

The museum opened on November 1, 1970 as one of the first public buildings commissioned after the tragic earthquake. The volume of the building is 34,000 square meters, where a large part were rooms for permanent and temporary exhibitions. The building is a great example of late modernism. It is also one of the most forgotten buildings of the Polish Tigers. The edifice was built on a hill above the old part of Skopje as its obvious complement. Thanks to the horizontality it was incorporated into the city landscape, not overwhelming the hill on which it stands. The reinforced concrete structure used is an expression not only of the era, but also of building planning taking into account the dangers of seismic movements. The whole solid impresses with simplicity and sophistication of the use of geometry. The projection of the main body is a square with dimensions of 42.5 × 42.5 meters. The homogeneous block is based on point supports, thanks to which the monolithic "plate" gives the impression of levitating above the ground. In addition, the image of the double integration with the space in which the building is located was obtained thanks to the ground-level part of the hill. The use of concrete structures, developed in the manner of raw formwork, suggests the intense influence of brutality, which dominated the rebuilt city landscape. The use of local white marble, which contrasts with the restraint of concrete, also turned out to be an interesting application. The interior of the building is primarily a huge ascetic spaces, enriched with modest glass and metal details. It is also not surprising to use numerous skylights in the building, thanks to which exhibition can use diffused natural light. Noteworthy are the extensive concrete loggias located on the first floor of the building and the delightful deep arcades of the ground floor, coming directly into the surrounding greenery.

The Skopian building of the Museum of Contemporary Art is proof of solidarity with the victims of the earthquake, it is an unusual, modern gift, above all an example of going to the future, as well as a perfect illustration of the integration of architecture with the space in which it is located. It is the art of organizing the latter stands for the development of a horizontal block partly blending into the surroundings, but still visible on the hill above the city.

View from the valley of the Wardar River to the completed complex of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Skopje, after: "Architecture" 1974, No. 4.

Interior of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Skopje, view of the loggia.

Interior of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Skopje, arcades.

Interior of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Skopje, concrete oriel.

The interior of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Skopje, the formwork structure of the column.

The interior of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Skopje, the formwork structure of the column.

You can read more about the history of the reconstruction of the Macedonian capital in Skopje. City, Architecture and Art of Solidarity available at the ICC online bookstore.

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