Places of memory
Sarajevo is city as cultural palimpsest; its history shaped by the multiplicity of regimes and empires that have held the east-meets-west nexus. For years the various ethnicities and religions that comprised the city coexisted harmoniously, but the fall of the Yugoslavian federation in the late 1980s pushed Sarajevo into violent civil conflict. Sarajevo emerged from the war the capital of a new state, but was utterly decimated by the years of siege. In the intervening two decades, the city has superficially recovered: buildings have been rebuilt, infrastructures and institutions reestablished. A thriving black tourism economy has even taken root in the city - to many, a sign that the city has made peace with its fraught history. But violent protests against the government in the spring of 2014 belie this notion of peace; the city is still at odds with itself. Architecture cannot save the world, nor can it guarantee a path towards sustained peace. It can, however, serve as a form of reconciliation - a critical component of an urban healing process. Introducing interventions in phases will ensure smooth assimilation in an area likely wary of new systems, and might physically exemplify a healing process. Thoughtful architecture and urban planning can lay the foundation for healing and rejuvenating a city raw from conflict, but requires the strength of the community to support and nurture it. The designer's challenge is, in this case, particularly complex, and requires a conscientious and diplomatic approach, drawing from the local community itself. No one outside can guarantee that Muslims, Croats and Serbs in Bosnia can come together and stay together as free citizens in a united country sharing a common destiny, said President Clinton in 1995.