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Competition: Kale Hill, Skopje

An open international contest has been launched to rethink the historic Kale Hill park in Skopje, Macedonia (Deadline: 15 May)

The free-to-enter single-stage competition seeks preliminary proposals that are ‘bold and innovative but at the same time simple and feasible’ to regenerate the underused city centre green space which currently hosts a ruined fortress and a contemporary art museum.

The ‘ROCK’ project aims to sensitively transform Kale Hill into a new cultural, educational and recreational hub featuring panoramic views over the city centre. Key planned interventions include the delivery of two or three new temporary pavilions featuring displays curated by the museum.

Kale Hill, Skopje

Kale Hill, Skopje

Source: Image by Google Earth

Kale Hill, Skopje

According to the brief: ‘Two important cultural monuments dominate the Kale Hill: The medieval fortress – Kale, and the Museum of Contemporary Art. The exceptional historic and contemporary significance of these two imposing structures for the City of Skopje have been largely diminished due to many years of neglect of the broader location of the Kale Hill.

‘The design task of the competition is quite challenging: development of preliminary urban and architectural development design whose basic purpose is to encourage transformation of the space in an urban area with new program, spatial and landscape qualities. The participants in the competition are required to recognise and present the values and potentials of the location, as well as to identify the opportunities and ways in which it could attract new users.’

Kale Hill, Skopje

Kale Hill, Skopje

Kale Hill, Skopje

Skopje is the capital and largest city of Macedonia. Located in the centre of the historic settlement overlooking the River Vardar, Kale Hill is home to the iconic structure of the city’s Museum of Contemporary Art.

The contest – open to both architects and students – focuses on the rocky hill itself and the immediate context of the museum, but concepts should also consider delivering improved connections to surrounding areas.

Submissions should consider the potential for incorporating a range of new cultural, education and recreational facilities on the site. Proposals for two or three temporary museum pavilions will also be required as part of any application.

Judges include Zoran Petrovski from the Museum of Contemporary Art, Vlatko P Korobar from the Skopje Faculty of Architecture, and Snezhana Gerasimova Mateska of Macedonia’s Institute for Protection of Cultural Heritage.

The overall winner will receive a prize worth 150,000 MKD (€2,400) from the City of Skopje. A second prize of 100,000 (€1,600) and third prize of 50,000 MKD (€800) will also be awarded.

How to apply


The deadline for applications is 3pm local time on 15 May

Contact details


Visit the competition website for more information

Q&A with Jovan Ivanovski

The judge and associate professor at Skopje Architecture Faculty discusses his ambitions for the competition

Why are your holding an international ideas contest to re-imagine Kale Hill and create three temporary pavilions?

The competition for urban and architectural redesign of the Kale Hill in Skopje constitutes an integral part of the Kale - Cultural Fortress project – organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Skopje – with the main goal of encouraging the spatial revitalization of Skopje’s Kale Hill into an attractive and vibrant city attraction with various cultural, educational and recreational functions.

The competition is also part of the ROCK project (Regeneration and Optimisation of Cultural heritage in creative and Knowledge cities), funded by the EU Horizon 2020 program, aimed to develop an innovative, collaborative and systemic approach to effective regeneration and adaptive reuse strategies in historic city centres. The idea behind the open, international competition is that it is a popular, democratic method for generating new knowledge and design ideas, but also a way to stimulate a productive public debate and a publicity for the theme/project.

Historically, the city of Skopje has a strong affiliation with architectural design competitions. Following the devastating 1963 earthquake that almost completely destroyed the city, in 1965, the UN and, at the time - Yugoslav government jointly organized an international competition for Skopje’s city centre, later won by the world known modernist architect and planner - Kenzo Tange. In that period, many important public buildings were actually competition-winning designs, thus transforming Skopje into an international arena of exchange of architectural concepts, a laboratory of formal and technological experimentation that provided its distinctive architectural identity.

What is your vision for the future of Kale Hill?

The design task of the competition is quite challenging: the development of preliminary urban and architectural development designs that will encourage transformation of the location into an urban area saturated with new public programs, spatial and landscape qualities. By announcing this competition, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Skopje encourages bold and innovative, but at the same time simple and feasible ideas and concepts for transforming the Kale Hill into a ‘cultural fortress’ and cultivating public interest. Within the general competition framework, the proposals should consider and emphasize the natural advantages of the location and its contents from the aspect of proximity to the central city area; the vibrant morphology of the terrain and in that sense its recreational capacities; its topographic diversity with multiple places that provide wonderful views of the city panorama and the landscape of the Skopje valley.

What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?

The aim of the international design competition is to be as inclusive as possible. Eligible to participate are architects, urban planners and landscape architects, as well as students of those particular professions, regardless of their place of residence and/or work. The condition for expertise is met by providing a proof of completed university education, or accordingly - a status of a student. In order to stimulate a variety of design proposals, international teams do not necessarily need to collaborate with local experts or firms in order to apply. The open form of the competition will also allow local and international architects and architectural collectives to gain public exposure.

Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?

The competition entries will be judged by a competition committee of seven members, consisting of university professors of architecture, experts in urban planning and architectural history and theory, an art museum custodian and an expert in the protection of cultural heritage. After the evaluation of the competition works and the announcement of the winning designs, within six months from the completion of the evaluation, an exhibition of the competition designs will be organized in the premises of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Skopje.

In parallel with the Kale - Cultural Fortress project, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Skopje began with the development of another long-term project dedicated to the Skopje Hill Kale, the project named - Sculptural. It is a project that includes eight sculptural and site-specific installations in the park and the wider surroundings of the Museum. As the title states, the exhibition starts from the sculptural medium and explores its possibilities in the interaction and in shaping the open public space. The project is in a certain sense a reminder of successful and popular interventions in space that were organized on several occasions in the Museum of Contemporary Arts in the mid-1980s under the leadership of Macedonian contemporary artists Simon Shemov and Kocho Fidanovski. In that sense, the purpose of project Sculptural is to initiate the use of the museum park and the wider space of the free green spaces on the Kale Hill for ephemeral sculptural, architectural or multimedia projects that will design and popularize this remarkable space in the centre of the city.

MultiPly V&A case study: Q&A with Andrew Waugh

The director at Waugh Thistleton Architects discusses lessons learned creating a temporary pavilion for the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and other locations

Andrew Waugh

Andrew Waugh

Source: Image by Ed Reeve

Andrew Waugh

How did your project deliver a unique and innovative temporary pavilion for the V&A?

We wanted to propose a piece of work which was integral to the design and research that we are doing as a practice. It was an opportunity for us to demonstrate the compelling future possibilities of mass timber and pre-fabricated buildings. We wanted to engage with and excite the public – and the design world – a place to puzzle over the possibilities and to get lost. We also wanted to build something completely demountable and re-usable – to talk about the flexibility of timber prefabrication and comment on the throwaway culture so prevalent in exhibitions. The first location at the V&A was wonderful because the boxes really stood at odds with the architecture of the courtyard – and yet worked beautifully with the buildings of the V&A.

MultiPly V&A by Waugh Thistleton Architects

MultiPly V&A by Waugh Thistleton Architects

MultiPly V&A by Waugh Thistleton Architects

Which architectural, material, visual and other methods did you harness in your design?

We started with sketches and discussions and moved onto cardboard and Rhino. Once we had settled on the design we used a BIM software so that the design files could move easily between engineer, architect and manufacturer. When it came to re-modelling the boxes for following exhibitions we quickly found that juggling the physical models of the boxes was the most fluent method to design and to display what we intended.

MultiPly V&A by Waugh Thistleton Architects

MultiPly V&A by Waugh Thistleton Architects

MultiPly V&A by Waugh Thistleton Architects

What advice would you have to contest participants on rethinking Kale Hill and creating new temporary pavilions for Skopje’s contemporary arts museum?

I think the most convincing is work that is relevant to the ongoing investigations of the practice. Whether this is a component of research or part of a design language – engaging the public in what you are thinking about is what an artist does – and this is no less relevant for an architect. The sincerity of that is hard to beat.

MultiPly V&A by Waugh Thistleton Architects

MultiPly V&A by Waugh Thistleton Architects

MultiPly V&A by Waugh Thistleton Architects

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