“Skopje is not a movie, it is not a thriller in which we sense the main event. It is a concentration of human struggle with nature, but also a result that inspires a new struggle, not acceptance of defeats”. Jean Paul Sartre, 1963.
On July 26, 1963, the capital of our country suffered an unprecedented catastrophe. Skopje was hit by a catastrophic earthquake that killed more than 1,000 people and destroyed more than 65% of the buildings in the capital.
The earthquake was a turning point in the city’s development. Very soon the reconstruction of the city began, in which a large number of buildings and monuments were built in modern architecture. At the announced bid for the reconstruction of Skopje (1965), the renown Japanese architect Kenzo Tange won the first prize, while the second prize was won by R. Mishevic and F. Venkler. Their teams along with many other architects, worked on Skopje’s final design. In Tange’s plans, two main structures, the City Gate (which was supposed to cover all communications, business operations and transport) and the City Wall (as a residential part of the city), were defined. His plans included the City Wall and the Transport Center.
The renovation of the city gave a chance to many young domestic and foreign architects who created authentic architectural solutions for buildings and monuments. Many of the new buildings were built in Brutalist Architectural style through massive conspicuously evident constructions and visible raw materials, built of natural concrete and in some cases a combination of brick and natural concrete. A significant number of these buildings were targeted by the controversial project “Skopje 2014”, a project which replaced the facades of the buildings with new ones in neoclassical and baroque style in the capital, and unfortunately, several buildings have lost their authentic appearance forever.
In the past few years, especially among foreign tourists, there has been interest in this type of architecture along with the specific monumental architecture of the socialist period in the capital and throughout the country. It is this tour that is an attempt to attract tourists to the forgotten architectural heritage, but also to remind them that Skopje deserves the epithet – the Capital of Brutalist Architecture.