Culture / Dubrovnik

Contact zone of the Old Town of Dubrovnik

Conservation base for the contact zone of the Old Town of Dubrovnik

Last October, in Dubrovnik’s Lazareti, the Ministry of Culture and Media introduced a new conservation base for the contact zone of the Old Town of Dubrovnik. 

Tomislav Petrinec, Mayor of Dubrovnik and Mato Franković, presented a base developed by a group of local and international experts over the past two years. 

The document was created following a monitoring mission carried out by UNESCO. Dubrovnik now has access to an expert’s overview that will simplify future changes and expansions of the zoning plan while preserving the town’s historical value. 

Expansion of the buffer zone

In 1994 the buffer zone was set to include an area up to 500 meters from the city walls. 

This resulted in a lack of control of what was being constructed outside of that area, as officials had no authority over construction and the visual impact it might have on the town. 

Now the zone is much wider, going from the bay of Gruž, Kantafiga and Batahovina, up to St. Jacob beach and Cape Orsula, including the slopes of Mount Srđ. 

Inclusion of this wider area opened up new long-term opportunities to control any construction or renovation within the newly set buffer zone directly in contact with a protected historic core.

Analysis of current conditions, in terms of construction capacity, shows that Dubrovnik has reached its maximum urban development. 

Guidelines coming from UNESCO in 2015 suggested that the only way of preserving the historical value of the town is the expansion of the supervised zone, which is now complete. 

Having control over the zone that is outside of the Unesco protected area allows local authorities to supervise the construction of buildings and only allow those that will complement the historical value of the town while conforming both functionally and aesthetically. 

Conservators will closely monitor urban development of the protected zone, as the base will be updated accordingly, and further local and regional plans will be developed to sync them with the General Urban Plan once completed.

Setting foundation for the next urban plan

The town of Dubrovnik and the Ministry of Culture and Media cooperated on the project and, for the first time, introduced the term ‘contact zone’. 

This resulted in a thorough analysis of the urban area as a whole and determining the sensitivity of each sector. The goal is to reduce or remove the negative impact of buildings within the urban zone while maintaining an environment that protects architectural and historic world heritage.

The analysis included an approach from a historical aspect, documenting continuous urban development until the present day. 

Cooperation across departments for urban development resulted in creating a database with detailed information of every building within the Old Town and those in the buffer zone. 

Terrain, infrastructure, buildings, and historic monument maps were created and, for the first time, unite all aspects crucial for urban development in the future. 

Once the conservation base is implemented fully, local authorities will proceed with plans to develop the historic core and finally complete the general urbanistic plan within the next two years. 

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