Geographia Polonica (2019) vol. 92, iss. 1

The Vardar River as a border of semiosphere – Paradox of Skopje regeneration

Armina Kapusta

Geographia Polonica (2019) vol. 92, iss. 1, pp. 83-102 | Full text

As suggested by its etymology, regeneration usually carries positive connotations while its negative aspects tend to be belittled. However, any renewal results in major morphological, physiognomic, functional or social changes, which imply changes in the meanings encoded in space. These transformations are not always welcome and they may lead to public discussions and conflicts. Skopje 2014 is a project within which such controversial transformations have been taking place. The area surrounding the Vardar River and its banks plays a major role here. On the river banks monumental buildings were erected, bridges over the river were modernised and new ones, decorated with monuments, were built for pedestrians. Bridges can be considered a valuable component of any urban infrastructure as they link different parts of a settlement unit (in the case of Skopje – left (northern) bank and the right (southern) bank; Albanian and Macedonian), improve transport, facilitate trade and cultural exchange. In this context, referring to Lotman’s semiosphere theory, they may become borders of semiotic space, which acts as a filter that facilitates the penetration of codes and cultural texts. Yet, in multicultural Skopje meanings attached to bridges seem to lead to social inequalities as they glorify what is Macedonian and degrade the Albanian element. To validate this assumption we carried out semiotic analysis of bridges over the Vardar River which were renewed or built within the Skopje 2014 project to identify their role in shaping the semiosphere of the Macedonian capital.

Keywords: Skopje 2014 project, bridges over the Vardar River, semiosphere, urban semiotics, ruining and demolishing, multicultural city

Armina Kapusta [], Urban Regeneration Laboratory Institute of Urban Geography and Tourism Studies Faculty of Geographical Sciences University of Łódź Kopcińskiego 31, 90-142 Łódź: Poland