The urban plan of the current city of Pag was developed in Venice by the Croatian architect Juraj Dalmatinac aka Giorgio da Sebenico and it is a correlation between Roman Castrum and Venetian Town Planning principles, organized as an orthogonal grid of streets and squares forming at the centre – Trg Petra Kresimira IV, with the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Duke’s and the Bishop’s Palaces.
The construction works lasted between 1443 – 1474 and was also supervised by Juraj Dalmatinac. Kula (Tower) Skrivanat is one of nine original towers of this XV century walled city. It was the most efficient structure to protect north-west end of the town from a hostile environment. Currently Kula Skrivanat is an empty relic of a medieval defense system.
Pag is an island of Salt. The salt production has existed for almost a thousand years. In Roman times, salt or the lack of it could drastically affect the health of entire populations. It was so valuable enough to be used as currency hence the Latin phrase salarium argentum (salt money). For the Venetians, salt was not a commodity among commodities. It was il vero fondamento del nostro stato (the true foundation of our state). Salt with its wealth built Town Pag which then had to defend itself with its fortifications.
Town Pag is also the place of origin of Paška cipka world famous lacework. First reference to Pag Lace is affiliated to sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict in 1579. It is a type of needle work strictly geometrically shaped forming white patterns, influenced by rosette of the Collegiate Church and no doubt by symmetrical urban plan of the town. Made without written drafts or blueprints was passed down from generation to generation throughout the centuries. It is so unique that Paška cipka is inscribed in the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
The Skrivanat Kula is approx. 14m tall stone structure topped with three window openings to each side. The interior is an empty square void of approx. 4,5m x 4,5m footprint. The renovation project is strongly influenced by the heritage of Lace making and Salt production of Pag. Stone flight of steps are separately inserted reaching at the top, all-around gallery floor at 12m high, leaving an empty cylinder void of 2.5m diameter. Visitors can enjoy the views from the existing window openings towards the town and the Adriatic Sea.
This will be the only high viewing point of the town available to tourists while being right in the centre. Underside stone steps and balustrade are wrapped in white lacework motive creating serpentine of Paška cipka. This delicate almost like spider web closeness to sharp and ruthless stone walls is deliberately chosen to contrast the beauty of the lace with a medieval war artifact. Where the lace is locked inside the tower like a hidden treasure the new roof profoundly displays the history of salt production – self respecting the white gold of the past.
The shape is a perfect pyramid providing an ambient light to the inside and it is quite transparent like an alabaster skin. During day light opacity of the pyramid various with a strength of the sun rays bringing different translucency hence different experiences. It is intended to refract light, like a giant prism breaking light up into its constituent spectral colors. At the correct sun-ray angle a specular reflection bounces off the outside roof surface while the remaining light refracts inside and is dispersed resulting in a spectrum – creating an effect similar to a Rainbow.
Transparency of the roof material will be designed to specific wavelengths to achieve this effect, which can be repeated during night times using an artificial light sources. Observing the panorama of the town from surrounding mountains will see the Skrivanat Kula with its roof as Colossal Salt Crystal performing unforgettable Rainbow experiences.
Location: Pag, Croatia
Architect: Quixotic Architecture
Project Team: Wojciech Dziubek & Wojciech Gwizdak