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Anna McEwan, future architect: Impressive game of clouds reflected in Zagreb buildings


News - Anna McEwan, future architect: Impressive game of clouds reflected in Zagreb buildings

As the Games draw to a close I’ve been reflecting on my time here and the rich experiences I’ve had, both as part of the games and in my free time, and how so much better I am for volunteering. Three weeks has seen me reporting, spectating, exploring, meet new people from across the continent, and learning new things everyday. Hailing from Scotland, Zagreb is markedly different from my home and I’ve had a wonderful time acquainting myself with the city. As a student of architecture, travel always presents the opportunity to discover new examples architecture I have never come across before, coming here I was keen to find what Zagreb had to offer in that regard.

One feature of the urban fabric that stood out to me was the abundance of parks and green spaces, from large parks to trees flanking streets, I found the city to breathe with life. I initially noticed it on the first day of the games, after covering a women’s football match at Zagrebello. A fifteen minute walk from the dorms, I passed on the shuttle to walk instead, so to see some the blocks of flats left from the Socialist era up close, finding there to be ample green space between buildings, ideal as a recreational space for residents, while also preventing the area from being overwhelmed with the concrete blocks. Further, while consulting a map of the city I noticed the Lenuci Horseshoe, a series of squares and parks forming a U shape in downtown Zagreb, with various 19th century cultural and university institutions placed within them, a delightful piece of urban planning that took me by fine examples of colorful Secessionist buildings, and squares dotted with sculpture work, it was a lovely way to get to know the area.

On another day I found myself with free time ahead of a volleyball match in Novi Zagreb, so I decided to make my way down Ulica Grada Vukovara. On the tram earlier in the week I had past several modern complexes that intrigued me, such as Hotel International and Centar Strojarska. They were mazes of glass and steel, creating series of calm public spaces on the ground. In the air I was mesmerized by the reflections of the cloudy skies above and the neighboring buildings, each side of the building reacting differently to the light, changing constantly as the clouds above sped on and reshaped.

Indeed I was struck everyday by how well the city’s buildings responded to changes of light and the sky, particularly at sunset. The glass structures reflected and distorted the vivid colors, concrete masses are cast in a golden light, giving perhaps tired and dreary buildings new life, pastel secessionist buildings change subtly in hue at the sun sinks to the horizon. Time and time again the city enchanted me.

I also was taken round the National University Library of Zagreb, a massive building composing of interlocking glass and stone blocks entered through a grand atrium that offers students working in the building lovely views of the city. While the library was largely empty, I can imagine how lively it can be during semester time, the building and the steps outside creating a buzzing hub of students.

I’ve covered a mere fraction of the art and architecture that made an impression upon me during my stay here, which should speak volumes of how rich the city is in quality design. Come September, when I return to my studies, I will do so with a new wealth of knowledge and inspiration, serving only to enrich the quality of my work. This I undoubtedly owe to the Games for providing me with the opportunity to be here, may it be proof of how events such as the Games will benefit all who participate, at every level, in a multitude of ways.

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