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“How does it feel when the town you live in is destroyed by war?”
Towns and cities derive their identity from structures both historical and modern. In a war, the attackers often plan exactly which structures to destroy in order to weaken morale. Hence their preference for places of cultural relevance, for museums, libraries, squares, and bridges. A city is bereft of its soul and thus changed almost beyond recognition for its erstwhile inhabitants. People get emotionally traumatized when their cities are destroyed: they lose their physical point of reference.
Arna Mačkić’s book Mortal Cities & Forgotten Monuments is an eye-opening inquiry into this seldom-considered impact of war on the citizens of a town. Arna Mačkić, who together with her family had to flee her native city during the Bosnian civil war of the 1990s, proposes an approach to rebuilding her country’s cultural heritage.
The task of rebuilding collective and inclusive identities through architecture is not exclusive to cities affected by war. Building inclusivity and overcoming exaggerated concepts of national heritage is a universal challenge. Mačkić’s proposed interventions in the public space are rooted in local tradition but designed to look toward the future, free of any political or religious associations. Mortal Cities & Forgotten Monuments offers a sound starting point to explore how architecture can contribute to building an inclusive society.
Edited by Arna Mačkić and Rosa te Velde
With Contributions by Arna Mačkić, Bogdan Bogdanović, Chris Keulemans, Thomas A.P. van Leeuwen,
and Rosa te Velde