Macedonia Adds Bank to Capital’s Classical Makeover

The latest addition to the grand revamp of the Macedonian capital known as Skopje 2014 will be a brand new building for the Central Bank.Macedonia’s Central Bank plans to swap its modernist headquarters for a new one that will match the profile of the city’s grand makeover, known as Skopje 2014, which is inspired by Classical Antiquity.

The Central Bank this week issued a call for architectural proposals for the new building, planned to be 40 meters tall and with 10 floors, to be erected on the main Macedonia Square.One precondition is that the new building matches its new surroundings that are currently receiving a neo-Classical facelift.

The bank says it “needed more space” and will select the final look of the building by the end of this year.

The new bank will pop up in one of the busiest pedestrian precincts in the city that many have previously deemed unfit for new construction.

In 2009, the government said it would build an Orthodox church on the site, plans that met a storm of controversy.

In March 2009, violence broke out when a group of religious militants clashed with students who were protesting against the project and who insisted that a building there would cause severe congestion.

The violence assumed a political dimension when Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski sided with the Church activists and accused the students of working for the opposition.

The authorities later earmarked a new location for the church, but, despite protests from many architects, kept the site reserved, this time for an administrative building.The latest news has caused a fresh stir on Internet forums dedicated to architecture.

“I am categorically against a building in that spot because it will clog up the square. Let them just put the money in their pockets and stop mutilating Skopje,” one person wrote on, the most prominent architecture forum in Macedonia.

My Macedonia wrote: “The movement of the bank to the square makes no sense because money will be spent for nothing. With the same money they could renovate the existing building and even make an upgrade.”

The existing building housing the Central Bank is one of the most noted examples in the city of the so-called Brutalist style, which flourished worldwide in the 1960s and 1970s, coinciding with the rebuilding of the capital after the devastating 1963 earthquake.

Meanwhile, the government continues transforming much of the rest of the city centre as part of the Skopje 2014 project.

More than 20 buildings, mostly inspired by the style of Classical Antiquity, and dozens of statues and fountains are already in place or are nearly finished. The construction of a new national theatre, a history museum, a foreign ministry and a concert hall are at an advanced stage.

Giant, almost 30 metre-high, statues of Alexander the Great and his father, Philip, are already in place.

Critics of the project object to its artistic style as well as to the project’s high estimated cost, unofficially standing at €500 million.

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