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In a specific city, largely planned and built in one go during the 1960s and 1970s, many urban planners’ ideas remained unrealized. In the urban plan from 1987, stairs connecting two important parts of the city – the administrative center and the cultural-educational sports center – were planned exactly where the new city stairs are located today. Due to historical circumstances, unrealized urban plans resulted in the lack of some essential communication links in the city.

The importance of this pedestrian connection for the city was best demonstrated by the first inspection of the site and the clearly visible path traced by residents through years of cutting through the brush and scrub, showing in the most direct way where and how to place the new city stairs.

To achieve the project’s basic concept, two very important guidelines were determined: 1. to create a comfortable, natural movement and allow the branches to freely break according to the terrain’s requirements, and 2. to allow nature to partially reclaim the newly urbanized landscape. The first guideline was achieved by forming a series of staircase branches (serpentines) that vary from a minimum of 3 to a maximum of 8 steps, enhancing the feeling of a natural ascent along the slope without the strictly rhythmic linear movement usually encountered when climbing stairs that bridge such a significant height difference. The second guideline was interpreted in a way that, respecting the existing pedestrian route, the stairs inhabit the space by hovering above the terrain, allowing the environment to pass through unobstructed, with minimal disruption to the existing Mediterranean landscape. The immediate surroundings remain natural and Mediterranean, with minimal interventions in the form of laid stone gardens made from excavated stone.

In plan view, the stairs are set in their own orthogonal system, rotating from branch to branch, following the logic of the serpentines, and positioned at the most logical inclination and angle that best fits the terrain. This creates various relationships between the strictly orthogonal landings, which always overlap differently depending on the angle of the break. Emphases, breaks, and excesses occur at the landings, where platforms set at the appropriate height occasionally take on the function of benches. At the upper part of the route, a larger rest area is formed, intended for short stays. In this section, a composition of several large-format slabs that can be used as benches is placed. After a rest, the steeper part of the route begins, where additional verticals are added, and the railing takes on a protective function. At the very top of the route, a lookout point is formed, providing an impressive view of the entire city center.

The chosen materials (prefabricated concrete, steel) are robust and suitable for high-frequency and long-term use. The treads themselves are prefabricated and made of white cement, while the remaining elements of the railing and trash bins are designed and executed in painted black metalwork. All joints are resolved on the underside of the prefabricated elements, and the walking surface is achieved without unnecessary details and joints. Lighting poles in their free system follow the route and emphasize changes in direction and stopping points. This very simple and very “low tech” city space requires almost no maintenance except for occasional painting of the metal elements – railings and trash bins.

Clearly extremely necessary for the residents of this city, the new city stairs in Ploče represent a small intervention in the public space of the city’s fabric, with a high frequency of use. The stairs have been exceptionally well received by the residents, becoming an indispensable quick link in the city’s movement trajectory.



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