Island of Zlarin StudioProf.George Proctor, AIA
The island of Zlarin is located on the Dalmatian coast an hour north ofSplit. It is one of four inhabited islands belonging to the town of Sibenik, thegateway to the national parks in the Krka river gorge and the Kornati Islands.Zlarin is within swimming distance of the mainland, just a 30 minute boat ridefrom the Sibenik ferry terminal. Zlarin's beautiful coast and clear waters are ahaven for yachters travelling the Croatian coast, its picturesque small villagedating to the 1400's is a photographers dream and its pristine coves a paradisefor swimmers and summer sunbathers.
Until the 1960's islands off the coast from Sibenik were heavily cultivated,primarily for subsistence farming. At one time, Zlarin even produced exportablewine and olive oil. Today agricultural production has dwindled to garden plotsand a few cared-for olive and grape orchards. At present, only 5% of theisland's 8.14 square kilometers are used for agricultural production. Much ofthe former orchards and vineyards are covered with Mediterranean pine.
Maglite founder and President Anthony Maglica recently enlisted the help ofthe faculty and design studios at California State Polytechnic University Pomonato provide a vision for Zlarin, the place of his youth. Mr. Maglica, born in NewYork City to Croatian immigrants, returned to the island with his mother in the1930's as a small child, and came back to the U.S. in his early twenties forgainful employment like so many of his countrymen. As recent as 1960 thepopulation of Zlarin was close to 2000 people. However, many of the inhabitantsleft the island for jobs in the cities of the former Yugoslavia, leaving thepresent population at approximately 250.
A recent visit to the island left Anthony Maglica discouraged about theisland and its people's future. Wanting to bring jobs and the substance of acomplete life to the people of Zlarin, he enlisted the help of the Cal Polydesign studios to prepare a master plan and urban design solutions for thevillage and the hinterlands of his Adriatic childhood. The college's richhistory began with its founding Dean Richard Neutra and his principles ofsurvival through design, which are manifest in the Architecture, Art, LandscapeArchitecture, and Urban & Regional Planning Departments and, the highlyregarded Center for Regenerative studies. Cal Poly's College of Environmentaldesign has a reputation for taking on real world projects and brings a diverserange of expertise to bear on an island like Zlarin. The College's Center forRegenerative Studies is known internationally as a living lab forsustainability, and its know-how is a keen match with an island project.
Working with the attributes of Zlarin, the design studios at Cal Poly arebeginning to develop a vision for the island that expands the idea of tourism toinclude the island's agricultural history, its quaint village and clear coastalwaters. Additionally, internet based cottage industries and light, pollutionfree, manufacturing will bring a balance to the economic vitality of the island.The Cal Poly studios are painting the picture of a culturally authentic placedriven by worldly economic engines. The studio is developing designs to enhancethe island's amenities and historic traditions in order to expand tourism beyondthe typical two-month season. Water sports, agri-tourism, and high qualityindigenous cuisine will give tourists many reasons to come to Zlarin. Visitorsmay visit a local winery, olive oil production facility, work on a small farm,bike around the island or eat in restaurants serving up locally produced fishand hams, goat cheese, wild asparagus, and other island grown greens andvegetables. Authentic dwellings are being considered for renovation as touristaccommodations in lieu of megalithic resort and hotel complexes. Newdevelopments are being depicted at the same scale and character as the existingvillage. Several light manufacturing and assembly facilities will be nestledinconspicuously along the edge of the island's agricultural valley. At the heartof the historic village, a new town center is being designed to provide accessto modern shopping, a movie theater and a place for cultural events.
In April 2000, a team from Cal Poly visited Zlarin and the town of Sibenik,Croatia to collect data and meet with local leaders. The vision the team isdeveloping found consensus with the local people. With the help anddetermination of Anthony Maglica, the vision for this place seems destined tobecome a world class destination with authentic qualities.