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Milk: A Catalyst for Reactivating Mostar’s Abandoned Core

Part 2 Dissertation 2014
Sophie Mitchell
University of Cambridge UK
In 1992 the city centre of Mostar became a front line in the Bosnian war, dividing the city along ethno-national lines. Today, Mostar remains segregated socially, politically, and economically. Mostar’s ruins have become ingrained into the character of the city and their presence exacerbates the complex polarisation.Mostar is divided without hard boundaries such as walls or checkpoints. It is the reciprocal relationship between how Mostarians use the city, and the urban environment, that creates the current division.

This thesis argues that buildings provide the essential conditions needed for shared places of encounter, the destruction of the built environment therefore destroying the spatial experience that they enclose, frame and project. The thesis aims to understand how the built environment is constitutive of shared space and to what extent the reconstruction process can address the loss of social heterogeneity.

The investigation adopts a combined methodology, involving extensive ethnographic field observations and academic research whilst also drawing from experience gained whilst working in international NGOs. Design is used as a tool to explore field research (including conversations and formal interviews) and subsequently analysed and structured through the use of academic literature, and primary resources. The propositional research responds to distinct bodies of literature on the development of contested space – the project behaving as a speculative test bed. Design is critical to the analysis as it makes some headway in the field by grounding action, by way of buildings, in the larger debate surrounding the reconstruction of a heterogeneous core in Mostar.

The observations gathered focus on small-scale events and daily routines that are often overlooked in planning policy and political debates, but play a critical role in the socio-political dynamics of the city. Rather than focusing primarily on statics or mass interviews and gathering information at a large and representative scale, this research is based on ‘ordinary’ people living in Mostar and the specificity of the way in which the city affects their daily lives. The research examines the fractures and exchanges of everyday life that affect the way that the city is experienced.

Note by tutor:
This dissertation represents the final part of the diploma course at our University. It is the result of a lengthy process of research, experimentation and fieldwork, the writing bui

Sophie Mitchell

Ingrid Schröder
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