Location: Zadar, Croatia
Author: Nikola Basic, architect
Co-author: Ivan Stamac / B. Sc. Eng (sound)
Project team: dr. prof. Vladimir Androcec / hydraulics, atelier «HEFERER» / project and instrument tuning
Client: Port authorities Zadar
Architectural office: MARINAPROJEKT d.o.o. Zadar
Contractor: Tankerkomerc d.o.o. / main contractor, Pomgrad d.o.o. Split / coastal facility, Jadrankamen d.o.o. Split / stone works, Goran Jezina d.o.o. Murter / structure and production of organs pipe system
Cost: installation of the organ 37.000 EUR / construction stone works 203.000 EUR
Photo: Stipe Surac, Mladen Radolovic Mrlja
The city of Zadar, lying on a peninsula, is dubbed «the stone ship» by its citizens.
In 2004 the Port Authority, supported by the city government, decided to reconstruct the «prow» of the peninsula to enable the docking of passing cruisers.
After the city was devastated in World War II, the chaotic reconstruction shaped that part of the seafront as a nondescript concrete wall. Before the reconstruction, that part was decayed and neglected. The citizens of Zadar, who like to go for a walk on the seafront, rarely went to that spot, although it is the best place to watch the famous Zadar sunset, which Hitchcock said was the most beautiful in the world when he stayed in Zadar in 1964.
The first phase of the project was made in 2005, when the cruiser docking site was reconstructed. The shallower part of the seafront will remain a promenade and includes the sea organ – the biggest musical instrument in the world!
The rest of the seafront surface will be arranged in the second construction phase. Its central spot will be the monument to the sun, another symbolic urban installation intended to give character to this important area.
The sea organ has the shape of a flight of steps leading to the sea, inducing people to change their walking pattern, to stop and come down to the sea. Under the stone steps, divided into seven 10-meter sections, there are polyethylene tubes of various sizes. The air, pushed by waves, flows from wider to narrower tubes, accelerating and producing sound in the pipes located in the resonating cavity below the promenade, with mystical openings in the stone letting out the sound. The instrument has seven clusters with five selected tones each, derived from the matrix of the traditional Dalmatian a cappella singing.
As the energy of the sea is unpredictable in the endless cycles of high and low tide, of the size, force and direction of waves, this eternal concert is always different in its infinite musical variations, composed and played by nature itself.
The sea organ in Zadar is just one of many projects undertaken by this millennial city to have a continuous culture of public space. Along with promoting the development of urban culture, this artistic installation is also an eminent tourist project.
This is attested by the fact that the sea organ, immediately after the construction, turned into a metaphorical site visited by delighted citizens, an essential stop in all tourist routes through Zadar and its region.
The sea organ won: the 2005 Bernardo Bernardi prize of the Croatian Architects’ Association; Award D!BEST 2006 Dizajncentar Croatia; National building award CEMEX Croatia 2006; European prize of urban public space 2006 / CCCB, Barcelona;
Cemex international building award 2006, Monterrey, Mexico.