/Genius Loci / 305

Peristyle is a square situated in the centre of the Diocletian’s palace (295 AD - 305 AD), a housing complex built for a retired Roman emperor, out of which the city of Split (Croatia) has been evolving over the past seventeen centuries. It was designed as a monumental cult square surrounded by antique colonnades, placed in the middle of the temenos, an antique sacred space with four roman temples around it. The Peristlye used to be the only accessible open area in the Palace, and moreover, a polygon for expressing the emperor’s political and divine power.

Today it presents one of the foundations of the Croatian cultural identity and the heart and soul of the city. It is protected by UNESCO since 1979.

Similarly to other countries “in transition”, one of Croatia’s biggest problems nowadays is lack of political control over the private capital related to public space. Development, usually completely unaware of any form of sustainability, presents itself as something necessary, attractive, a “must-have”. Correspondingly, obsessive enjoyment of shallow visual fruits in today’s era of information baroque results in the blurring of our sense of place. Unfortunately, the NGO sector and responsible professionals’ warnings on this topic hardly ever reach broad masses due to media policies and inadequate professional discourse use.

Inventing new ways of communicating is crucial for sending a clear and powerful message to the general public.