The New City

In Bosnia, Uncategorized on June 10, 2009 at 1:00 am

Archipelagos 287

 When Sarajevans talk about the New City, they always smirk, spitting, “It is very Socialist.” The tenement buildings are gray and rise 20 stories into the air; each apartment has a few windows and a balcony, where chairs are positioned and laundry is strung. Some buildings are abandoned, pocked with mortar blasts and bullet-holes and covered in graffiti.

The New City is ugly, surely – at best, a Communist wasteland, at worst, an eerie mirror of the Chicago Projects, where any kind of mischief could be lurking within the massive cement boxes. But I can also see the theory behind this architecture: Each building looks exactly like the others, and each apartment looks equally sized. The narrow sidewalks have stretched into broad, convenient bike-trails, and the four-lane highways meet at sensible intersections. The New City is built on flat soil, yet the tall buildings force me to look up – up toward the sky, the future. This is not suburban sprawl, but a reasonable use of space, where each buildings is surrounded by public courts and green-space, accessible to all. Tito’s urban design was logical, even if time has chewed these buildings apart, leaving them colorless and abandoned.


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