The Dark Side of Croatia’s Tourism Boom

Children’s Resort in Krvavica

Incredibly, this “flying saucer” structure in Krvavica was virtually unknown to the public until last year. There’s a dearth of information out there, but maybe that’s because the resort was never used for holiday leisure activities.

The official story is this: In 1961, Architect Rikard Marasovic created a brilliant design for the Children’s Health Resort (literal translation of the long-form name: Children’s Maritime Resort for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Children with Lung Disease Insured Through the Military). The resort supposedly catered to children who had a parent employed by the JNA and who suffered from a respiratory illness. According to a healthcare professional who worked in socialist Yugoslavia, it was easy to get a doctor to write a note attesting to your child’s “illness” as a favor. Many of the children who stayed at the seaside resort likely suffered from asthma or so-called “weak lungs”.

The structure, completed in 1964, has been described as a “ring on pillars”, with one side of the ring offering a view of the mountains, and the other a view of the Adriatic Sea. The living quarters were cleverly designed. The outermost section of the ring contained a series of modules with three separate rooms: Two hospital rooms for children, with a nurse’s room in between. This optimized the nurse’s availability in the event of an emergency. Each room had access to the terrace.

The resort served its intended purposes until the end of the 1980s. Then the war began in early 1991, and refugees started flooding in. Like so many others, the building was neglected during the war years, and was ultimately abandoned. Since it had belonged to the JNA, a state-owned company called Club Adriatic d.o.o took over ownership and management of the property after Croatia achieved independence. Club Adriatic d.o.o. manages other former military sites, including Kupari. According to the website for the town of Krvavica, “the former resort for children…due to difficulties of privatization…[has been] deteriorating empty since the Patriotic War”. The public knew little about the former resort for many years, until one of Oris magazine’s contributors published an article about it in 2008.

But it wasn’t until last year that news of the building’s existence reached a greater number of people. Architects had argued that the resort exemplified “critical regionalism”, an approach to architecture that is simultaneously “modernist” and specific to a site’s geographic qualities. On August 31st, the former resort was placed on the register of protected places. The designation expires in three years, but gives conservationists and architects time to study the design and decide what to do with it moving forward. Given the fact that it’s abandoned and still managed by a state-owned company, the ultimate fate of the building is anyone’s guess.


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Lily Lynch

Lily is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Balkanist Magazine. She lives in Belgrade, Serbia.