Shared Layers of History – Urban Phenomena of Post-Communist Cities #8

After the fall of communism, we had to learn how to shop and sell, how to build and how to lead an everyday life in a completely new realm. It does not matter if we are in Belgrade, Warsaw, Berlin or Bratislava – our cities are layered with history and scarred with the changes

One cannot understand the post-communist attitude towards sharing without knowing the twisted history and numerous transformations involved in the perspective. Presented here is our selection of socio-urban phenomena that helps explain – and hopefully offers a more detailed picture of – today’s public spaces.


As Croatia attempts to rebrand itself as the EU’s newest luxury tourist destination, the hotel industry is literally lying in ruins. According to Zdenko Cerovic’s study, a professor of tourism and hospitality at the University of Rijeka, there are a staggering 96 abandoned hotel structures in Croatia. That number is the result of a Croatian phenomenon called “apartmanizacija” – the rampant construction of insipid housing developments on the Adriatic coast.

The transformation of the Adriatic coast, its densification, didn’t happen overnight. After the breakup of Yugoslavia, a radical deindustrialisation of its major cities took place, which today is mostly visible on the coast of Croatia. The formerly diversified economy was slowly transformed into a mono-economy of tourism. The number of tourists grew gradually each year letting the inhabitants slowly expand their businesses as well.

Yet the municipality wasn’t bothered by this random development and radical landscape transformations. They were focused on the possibility of the economic growth. Due to this tourist boom – with its loosely regulated additions of small apartments and rooms, as opposed to the planned hotel complexes of the past – “apartmanizacija” spread. Unresolved legal disputes continue to hamper investment in Croatia today, while less welcoming local planning authorities impose very strict limits on construction activity. Therefore, the primary problem, at the time of writing this piece, is not so much the major tourism developments but the random sprawl of smaller private residences.

This article was published in Magazyn Miasta / Cities Magazine # 1/17  – our special international issue released as a part of Shared Cities: Creative Momentum (SCCM) project. You can read more about the project here. You can download PDF version of the issue for free here.