Adventurous Heart of Starigrad Paklenica

Jelena Lazic
University of Belgrade, Faculty of Architecture, Belgrade, Serbia

Project idea

The architectural concept of the Starigrad Paklenica project is based on two key elements: the development of the vertical connection between the mountain and the sea, and the horizontal connection with the settlement. The location, which is located in a seaside area near the city of Zadar, is primarily oriented towards seaside tourism, it also has a great potential for the development of mountain tourism due to the Paklenica National Park and the Southern Velebit.
The architectural intervention is mainly based on the introduction of the mountain center, which will be the largest in Croatia and will provide various activities and services for the development of alpinism and mountain tourism, such as climbing, hiking, cycling, off-road activities, and so on. The mountain center will be located near the entrance to the national park and will represent a unique destination for all nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts.
In addition, the concept also includes the extension of the D8 strategy along the Adriatic coast, with pedestrian and bicycle paths. This will allow for the horizontal connection of the settlement with the coast and will provide local residents and tourists with the opportunity to continuously use the promenade with a more pleasant environment than the one currently known.
Overall, the architectural concept in Starigrad Paklenici is based on the exploitation of the unique characteristics of the location and aims at the development of the mountain center and horizontal connection with the settlement. This intervention will add another layer of attractiveness to this town and will significantly contribute to the development of tourism and strengthen the local economy. By incorporating nature, adventure activities, and pedestrian and bicycle paths, the concept will provide a unique experience for all who visit Starigrad Paklenica.

Project description

The touristic resort, with its detached villas and camping site, represents a modern solution inspired by the existing architectural corpus of Starigrad Paklenica and its surrounding nature. It is located on a steep and inaccessible terrain with two coves, one of which is designed as a harbor and the other retains its untouched stone nature. The dry stone walls on the location are preserved, and new staircases are project-designed around them, allowing descent to the shore and spot-dispersed swimming areas which are a specific phenomenon of the Starigrad coast. The villas located west of the existing settlement encompass three types of houses, and their aesthetic appearance is tied to the cove roof element, symbolizing the duality of the location between the mountain and the sea. The camp and parking are located along the D8 road, in accordance with the described highway expansion strategy, enabling easy road access to the Paklenica beaches and entrance to the national park. The Mountain centre represents a new public exclusive space and with its roof, provides a clear view of the sea and the mountain, reminding of the success and vision of the mountaineers at the moment of reaching the highest peak. Its position emphasizes the lowest contour of the location, so the mountain cabin is limited by a natural ditch on the west side and by a dominant staircase on the east side. The staircase leads visitors to the marina and public space, avoiding wandering tourists by the villas and individual swimming areas. The hotel is located on the extreme western end of the location, with individual detached units in nature on the sunny slope towards the harbor. The hotel, with its organic appearance, follows the contours on which it is placed and builds its floors towards lower elevations to avoid disturbing the character of the built and unbuilt context. The design of the tourist complex is unobtrusive, spot-based and eco-friendly, in accordance with the natural environment, with the goal of easier construction and achieving a uniform recognizable visual identity along with the existing built area of Starigrad.

Technical information

The architectural project is developed with the aim of protecting the environment and local traditions. The buildings are constructed from local materials and with local suppliers, with a special focus on converting solar energy and collecting rainwater which is used as technical water in the building and for maintaining the grounds. Each plot is accessible by road and has two parking spaces located above a concrete core, which contains a reservoir for collected rainwater. All the villas are single-story, with access to individual swimming pools and staircases located next to existing dry-stone walls, which adds to the authentic tradition in this area.
The mountain cabin provides a large linear surface area that extends up to 40 meters in height, so that the roof is level with the access road D8. Its structure is built from frames reinforced with braces and is divided into punctual functional units that accommodate the Mountain centre and local needs. Wind flows through this building, allowing users to experience the atmosphere of alpinism and climbing in real conditions.
The harbor accepts smaller boats and boats. The hotel accommodation is built in accordance with ecological architectural views, with its own pool so that guests can fully enjoy relaxation without having to use private swimming pools. Movement on the site is focused on pedestrian movement, but in the residential part there is also road traffic due to legal regulations. The southern part of the location is completely free of car movement and provides a unique atmosphere of a meadow rock garden.


ZONE 1, four storey apartment buildings, (ground floor + 3 levels)

ZONE 2, three storey apartment buildings, (ground floor + 2 levels)

ZONE 3, hotel and carpark

ZONE 4, commercial centre

ZONE 5, private one storey villas

ZONE 6, marina

ZONE 7, coastal zone

ZONE 0, urbanism


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