Mar 30, 2009

Demands of the protesters

On Facebook, a group ("First Archi-Brigade") was formed prior to the protest. Presently counting 3,483 members, on its homepage can also be found the initial call for protest and the initiative's demands, which we here provide in translation (corrections welcome; not everything was easy to translate) for those not reading Macedonian:

Fellow citizens and residents of Skopje,

OUR city is rapidly and definitely drowning in kitsch of a previously unseen extent and of yet uncertain consequences. The public space in OUR city is subject to plans and projects of politicians-economists and some of their friends, the villain architects, that would build even the Eiffel Tower if wanted by the client. Independent views raised by art historians or other experts are ignored. Instead of public and professional debates about the development of the city, competitions and plans are made in secret. Instead of solving the needs of the citizens, the intent is to solve the problems of political parties.

Therefore, fellow citizens, it’s time to stop criticizing only on internet forums; it’s time to stand up from our comfortable TV chairs and to join the INITIATIVE: FIRST ARCHITECTURAL UPRISING, instigated by us, the students of the Faculty of Architecture, for our own good and for the good of Skopje.

These are our demands:

1. We demand an official position of the Faculty of Architecture [at the University of] Skopje on developments concerning the city’s public spaces in the interest of society.

2. We demand a professional debate before every key venture for building projects.

3. We demand transparent competitions, announcements, and urbanistic surveys, as well as commissions with representatives and consultants from Macedonia and abroad, NON-PARTY bodies that will decide about such buildings. The final decision must be sanctioned through a referendum, as practiced in European cities in such cases. Until then, a moratorium for construction must be in place!

4. We demand of politicians to - instead of investing in kitsch architecture, instead of building artificial villages for developing rural tourism, instead of drawing up new urbanistic plans, instead of building on extremely inappropriate parcels - to focus public funding on the maintenance of the authenticity and originality of the old buildings that already exist but decay due to neglect.

5. We ask that the citizens wake up, for once think with their own heads, and become actors in the building in their and their city’s future instead of remaining merely passive observers.

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