The Island of Justice, Croatia

From Bartlett School of Architecture in London, the GEN Z Series travels to University of Split in Croatia to meet Ana Ljubic, a 2022 graduated Master’s in Architecture and Urban Planning. Ana comes across as a passionate soul, who loves art to the core. What really impressed me is Ana’s Master’s thesis, which is unlike so many others that we have showcased so far. Her thoughts and concern for the prisoners really stands out to show architects can make huge impact in social reckoning to better lives through their design creations.

Prison Gate

Ana Ljubic enthuses, “My parents are both hard-working and supportive. They have always instilled in me the importance of education and perseverance. My mother works as the Head Librarian at the University of Science and father is Director of Electric Switch Cabinet Construction Company. I and my younger brother learned the importance of teamwork and cooperation at a young age through sport. As a family, we really like traveling and spending time together (smiles).”

Aerial View

Johnny D interacts with Ana Ljubic at great length to explore her journey in the architecture field and her Master’s thesis ‘The Island of Justice, Croatia’.

What was your childhood ambition? Did you always wanted to become an architect? 

As a child, I had no particular ambition. I always had a passion for understanding the environment. I loved to draw and paint, question and admire, but at the same time used to get confused all at once (smiles). Through art, I started learning about architecture and realized that I would like to pursue the field.

Plan – Ground Floor

How has architecture influenced your life as a student?

All architecture students know and have experienced deprivation of sleep during graduation period, and so did I. The best thing is that you start looking at everything with different perspectives. Architecture seduces you and one can see everything through it. The feeling of seeing architecture as art is beyond words, which unfortunately we do not encounter in everyday life.

Area Ratio Diagram

What role do you perform as an architect at Porticus d.o.o?

At Porticus d.o.o., I work as an intern architect. I learn to work from wonderful people, who direct me to the world of architecture.

Briefly tell us about your University and the Masters’ Course.

I attended the University of Split in Croatia, studying Architecture and urban planning at the Faculty of Civil Engineering, Architecture and Geodesy. Despite all the sacrifices, exams and lectures, studying in Split also means seeing the sea from the student room window and meeting wonderful people and professors, who live their work with passion.

Main Corridor

Briefly describe the significance of your project with the ‘Title of the Project’.

‘The Island of Justice’ project consists of three parts. The introductory part, that gave me the basis for the search for a spatial answer to the complex questions arising from the goal of enforcing discipline and justice. The point is the spatial articulation of the idea, where I touch on a range of professions, from sociology to psychology to law. All the disciplines mentioned are incidental guidelines for defining the concept.

Roof Plan

Contribution to the development of prison typology, in which I arrived at the guidelines for the development of a new type. The architectural structure of the prison must be developed as a cell with a continuous floor plan. They should be linked by strong connections and form closed or open courtyards to bring air and light into the interior and open the view to the sky. The graphic part is the result of earlier reflections on the subject of prisons.

Movement + Users

When I designed the prison, I tried to adapt it in the shape of the island. The prison was designed to preserve nature between the walls. The walls are defined by two isohypses as the starting points of the project. I place the cells that form the wall and the empty courtyard. In the courtyard, I set up common spaces for the prisoners. Access to the island is only possible from the sea or sky. There is also a seawater desalination plant on the northern slope. The goal was to create an architectural structure as a system for implementing discipline.

Types of Cell

Which National or International architect has inspired / influenced you? Please specify as to why?

The whole of Barcelona is littered with buildings by Antoni Gaudi. I think his intricate structures deserve great respect. He inspired me with his freestyle full of organic curves and innovation. I am also influenced by Zaha Hadid, who is definitely one of the most inspiring, and also by Rem Koolhas, who is one of the most eclectics.

Cell View

As an Intern, what is the most important lesson(s) you have learnt from senior architects, while being a part of a project?

I will always remember the best advice: “Something that you like, hang on the wall and design something good quality.”

Situation in Model

Will the younger generation of architects make innovative changes to mitigate the catastrophic effects of Climate Crisis? Elucidate your perspectives.

I am sure that the younger generation of architects will also make their contribution to mitigate climate crisis with innovative ideas and technological progress. It is a challenge for everyone, because it is topical and interesting.

Punishment – Filter – Reward

Which significant aspects of the global platform ‘zerobeyond – the new frontier!’ did you liked the most, and why?

‘zerobeyond – the new frontier!’ has an interesting story in the world of architecture and construction. I like its quality content showcasing interesting projects from all around the world and shares it in an interesting way.

Basketball Court for Prisoners

Local charm of cities has diminished due to Modern Architecture as every city looks alike and similar. How should architects / urban planners / landscape architects modernize cities, while maintaining the local charm intact?

Every good idea springs from the greatest respect for the environment and adaptation to the context. I believe that the greatest respect for the city lies in the adoption of historical elements and their adaptation to modernity. The use of materials, textures and vegetation preserves the local charm, and the architect conveys it in a modern way.

Details of Construction 

Looking at the past in the current present, what are the futuristic architectural changes you would like to see in your home city? Elucidate the reasons for your vision.

There are some changes I would like to see in my hometown of Split, Croatia. We definitely need to make progress in the use of more sustainable materials and spatial planning. Another big problem is tourism, because the city sleeps in the winter and invents a new story in summer. The most interesting part of the city I come from is Diocletian’s Palace, which dates back to 305 AD, and its special feature is that it is accessible to everyone, as people still live, work and resides there today. Every day it changes and takes on layers of the present. I believe that the soul of the city should be particularly preserved and that visitors should enjoy the local atmosphere. We are slowly losing this through tourism and I think that the architects should reign there.

Location + Function

Honours and awards related to architecture, if any.

I have won two prizes with two teams of architects. The first prize is a conceptual solution for a kindergarten in Split, Croatia. I worked on it as a student and the team won 3rd Prize. The second prize is a competition for a student residence in Porto, Portugal. I took part there with the office, where I completed a 10-month internship and we won 2nd Prize.

Prison Model

Image Courtesy: Ana Ljubic

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