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INSPIRATION CASE 2: WATERFRONT PUBLIC SPACE DESIGN General Information Our inspiring case of a unique waterfront public space design is the so called Sea Organ (morske orgulje), a natural musical instrument built on the quayside of Zadar, Croatia. This project shows impressively how an abandoned and neglected public space at a city’s waterfront can be re-designed and reclaimed by its people. The concept revived the whole waterfront area of Zadar whilst achieving a communication with nature and promoting a unity of architecture and environment.

Inspiration & Parametres for change a) reclaiming community’s public space

Thanks to a public space re-design project, inhabitants and community members can restore an abandoned relation with their environment and reclaim ‘their’ neglected public space. In this example, the Zadar community re-discovered the marine parade, neglected for decades, as a public space worth going to and seeing the superb sunset over the Adriatic Sea that has been described by Alfred Hitchcock as ‘the most beautiful in the world’.

© Clear Village 2011

b) unifying culture and public space

As public spaces are remarkable places to represent the local culture, a re-designing project offers the opportunity to bring culture back to public spaces. For example: In this part of Croatia the prevailing musical tradition is the spontaneous four-voice male singing, with melodies and chords conforming to the diatonic major scale. The sea organ is designed with 5 musically tuned pipes of each section that the listener should be able to hear 5 to 7 musically tuned pipes play their natural music that remind some people on that male singing conforming to the diatonic scale.

Information and pictures sourced from: and


© Clear Village 2011

What does it mean for the Zadar community? From an architectural point of view, the solution adopted consists of resolving the meeting with the water gradually, by means of a flight of broad white marble steps that go down beneath the waves. That makes it a perfect grandstand for watching the sunset over the sea and the outline of the neighbouring island of Ugljan, while listening to the musical compositions played by the sea itself. These two great attractions, the marble steps as well as the sea organ itself, have not passed unnoticed by the citizens of Zadar, who have now really appropriated this public space with general devotion and use it for touristic purposes, trade and events.

Since the north-western seafront of Zadar, Croatia, as part of the Adriatic coast of the Dalmatia region was heavily bombed by British and American troups during world war II and the prow of the ‘stone vessel’, as the peninsula is called, got reconstructed with an indifferent concrete wall, this first reconstruction design did not correct its neglected state and was hardly visited by the citizens of Zadar. In 2004, given the incipient tourist activity in Croatia, the city of Zadar decided to undertake the reconstruction of that segment of the seafront and chose a very unique design concept: a sea organ. The ‘natural instrument’ is located on the shores of Zadar and the world’s first musical pipe organs played by the sea. The architectural concept of 70m length is equipped with 35 organ pipes and whistle openings on the sidewalk, built under simple and elegant steps that are carved in white stone. The musical pipes are located so that sea water and wind produce musical sounds by pushing air through them, and – depending on the size and velocity of the wave – musical chords are played. Therewith the waves create random harmonic sounds that can be heard by people passing by.

Information and pictures sourced from: and

Inspiration Case 2: Waterfront Public Space Design  

Our inspiring case of a unique waterfront public space design is the so called Sea Organ (morske orgulje), a natural musical instrument buil...