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Islahijet, the architectural ensemble

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Status of monument -> National monument

Published in the “Official Gazette of BiH”, no. 1/10.

Pursuant to Article V para. 4 Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Article 39 para. 1 of the Rules of Procedure of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, at a session held from 7 to13 July 2009 the Commission adopted a

           

D E C I S I O N

 

I

 

The architectural ensemble of the Islahijjet in Brčko is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

The National Monument consists of the Islahijjet Centre and four residential-cum-commercial properties with storage facilities, and the row of properties opposite the Islahijjet Centre (two commercial properties with a site and remains and the adjacent plots.

The site of the National Monument is bounded by the river Brka to the east, Islahijjet Street (the access road) and the high street to the west, and is located on a site designated as cadastral plot 17 (new survey), corresponding to c.p. 1/27 (old survey), c.p. 19 (new survey), corresponding to c.p. 1/26 (old survey), c.p. 20 (new survey), corresponding to c.p. 1/23 (old survey), c.p. 49 (new survey), corresponding to c.p. 7/161, 7/162, 7/163, 7/165, 7/167 and 7/169 (old survey), c.p. 50 and c.p. 1479 (part), cadastral municipality Brčko 1, Brčko District of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The provisions relating to protection measures set forth by the Law on the Implementation of the Decisions of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, established pursuant to Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Official Gazette of Brčko District of Bosnia and Herzegovina no. 2/02 and 19/07).

 

II

 

The Government of Brčko District of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the Government of Brčko District) shall be responsible for providing the legal, scientific, technical, administrative and financial measures necessary for the protection, conservation and presentation of the National Monument.

The Government of Brčko District shall be responsible for providing the funds to draft and implement the necessary technical documentation for the protection, conservation and presentation of the National Monument.

The Commission to Preserve National Monuments (hereinafter: the Commission) shall determine the technical requirements and secure the funds for preparing and setting up notice boards with basic details of the monument and the Decision to proclaim the property a National Monument.

 

III

 

To ensure the on-going protection of the National Monument, the following protection measures are hereby stipulated, which shall apply to the area defined in Clause 1 para. 3 of this Decision:

-       all works are prohibited other than works designed to preserve the layout of the architectural ensemble and conservation and restoration works on the various buildings;

-       the government of Brčko District shall be responsible for drawing up a project for conservation and restoration works on the National Monument;

-       in order to rehabilitate the architectural ensemble, the functions to be introduced shall be such as to constitute a kind of cultural centre (cafés, small restaurants, retail galleries, small-scale cultural facilities such as a chamber theatre, shops with storage facilities, bookshops and the like);

-       the properties on c.p. 17 shall be rehabilitated and revitalized in such a way as to ensure that their use is wholly compatible with the function of the other properties in the group;

-       in order to preserve the townscape values of the architectural ensemble, properties for which there is written and material evidence of their previous existence may be reconstructed, subject to the reconstructed properties retaining their previous horizontal and vertical dimensions as evidenced by available information;

-       the use of new materials is permitted provided that their appearance and use is does not impair or endanger the values of the architectural ensemble;

-       vehicular traffic whether in motion or stationary is prohibited;

-       the precinct shall be laid out, possibly with the installation of street furniture, paving the streets with granite setts, floodlighting, and landscaping open spaces to a suitable design;

-       all works shall be carried out on the basis of prior approval from the authority responsible for area planning in Brčko District (hereinafter: the relevant authority) and under the expert supervision of the relevant heritage protection authority.

 

A buffer zone surrounding the protected site of the National Monument is hereby prescribed, defined by the boundaries of the plots designed as c.p. 15, 16, 21, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 51 through to 63, 1472 (part) and 1479 (part), c.m. Brčko 1. In this buffer zone, the surviving structure of the properties and in particular the urban layout shall be preserved, subject to the following measures:

-       the demolition of existing buildings is prohibited, as are extensions, and any alterations to the horizontal or vertical dimensions, stylistic features (by the removal or addition of decorative elements or architectural details) or fenestration (alterations to the proportions, numbers, size and arrangement of doors and windows) of the properties, including changes to the type, pitch and height of roofs and to the roof cladding;

-       the erection of new properties that could be detrimental to the National Monument in size, appearance or any other manner is prohibited;

-       in order to preserve the townscape values of the architectural ensemble properties for which there is written and material evidence of their previous existence within the buffer zone may be reconstructed in line with their previous horizontal and vertical dimensions, which shall be determined following an analysis of the documentation and surviving remains, provided that they are not detrimental in height, appearance, materials or any other manner;

-       all vehicles are to be diverted away from the buffer zone around the architectural ensemble (the areas that are at present unbuilt-up around and in Islahijjet street).

           

IV

 

All executive and area development planning acts not in accordance with the provisions of this Decision are hereby revoked.

           

V

 

Everyone, and in particular the competent authorities of Brčko District of Bosnia and Herzegovina, shall refrain from any action that might damage the National Monument or jeopardize the preservation and rehabilitation thereof.

 

VI

 

The Government of Brčko District, the relevant authority and the heritage protection authority shall be notified of this Decision in order to carry out the measures stipulated in Articles II to V of this Decision, and the Authorized Municipal Court shall be notified for the purposes of registration in the Land Register.

           

VII

 

The elucidation and accompanying documentation form an integral part of this Decision, which may be viewed by interested parties on the premises or by accessing the website of the Commission (http://www.aneks8komisija.com.ba)

 

VIII

 

Pursuant to Art. V para 4 Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, decisions of the Commission are final.

 

IX

 

On the date of adoption of this Decision, the National Monument shall be deleted from the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Official Gazette of BiH no. 33/02, Official Gazette of Republika Srpska no. 79/02, Official Gazette of the Federation of BiH no. 59/02, and Official Gazette of Brčko District BiH no. 4/03), where it featured under serial no. 133.

 

X

 

This Decision shall enter into force on the day following its publication in the Official Gazette of BiH.

 

This Decision has been adopted by the following members of the Commission: Zeynep Ahunbay, Martin Cherry, Amra Hadžimuhamedović, Dubravko Lovrenović and Ljiljana Ševo.

 

No: 07/1-2-40/09-44

9 July 2009

Sarajevo

 

Chair of the Commission

Amra Hadžimuhamedović

 

E l u c i d a t i o n

 

I – INTRODUCTION

Pursuant to Article 2, paragraph 1 of the Law on the Implementation of the Decisions of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, established pursuant to Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a “National Monument” is an item of public property proclaimed by the Commission to Preserve National Monuments to be a National Monument pursuant to Articles V and VI of Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina and property entered on the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Official Gazette of BiH no. 33/02) until the Commission reaches a final decision on its status, as to which there is no time limit and regardless of whether a petition for the property in question has been submitted or not.

The Commission to Preserve National Monuments issued a Decision to add the property known as the Youth Centre (Islahijjet building) in Brčko to the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina under serial no. 133.

Pursuant to the provisions of the law, the Commission proceeded to carry out the procedure for reaching a final decision to designate the Property as a National Monument, pursuant to Article V para. 4 of Annex 8 and Article 35 of the Rules of Procedure of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments.

 

Statement of Significance

For Brčko, the establishment of Austro-Hungarian rule in Bosnia and Herzegovina marked the start of rapid development, in which the town was strongly influenced by Habsburg architecture and culture. By the end of the 19th century the layout of the town had been transformed, with streets laid out orthogonally replacing the organically-shaped mahalas and čaršija. The old separation between residential and business quarters was replaced by buildings combining both functions, with shops on the ground floor and flats above.

One example of this new kind of architecture and urban layout is the commercial centre of the quarter known as Kolobara, a group of private residential-cum-commercial buildings erected by a businessman by the name of Mehmedaga Kantardžić. Particularly when seen from the right bank of the River Brka, the group forms a landmark in the townscape. It consists of the Islahijjet centre and four residential properties with storage facilities.

From the architectural perspective, the Islahijjet (built in 1912) dominates the group as regards the formal treatment of the plot, and is one of the most important surviving buildings associated with the cultural and educational life of the Muslims of Brčko.

 

II – PROCEDURE PRIOR TO DECISION

In the procedure preceding the adoption of a final decision to proclaim the property a national monument, the following documentation was inspected:

-       Documentation on the location and current owner and user of the property (copy of cadastral plan and copy of land register entry).

-       The current condition of the property.

-       Data on the current condition and use of the property, including a description and photographs, data of war damage, data on restoration or other works on the property, etc.

-       Historical, architectural and other documentary material on the property, as set out in the bibliography forming part of this Decision.

 

The findings based on the review of the above documentation and the condition of the property are as follows:

 

1. Details of the property

Location

The town of Brčko is in north-eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina, where the river Brka flows into the river Sava, at an altitude of 96 m above sea level.

The architectural ensemble is in Brčko, in the residential quarter of Kolobara, close to the confluence of the Sava and Brka rivers. The National Bank branch office building is very close by.

The National Monument consists of the Islahijjet Centre and four residential-cum-commercial properties with storage facilities, and the row of properties opposite the Islahijjet Centre  two commercial properties with a site and remains and the adjacent plots.

The site of the National Monument is bounded by the river Brka to the east, Islahijjet Street (the access road) and the high street to the west, and is located on a site designated as cadastral plot 17 (new survey), corresponding to c.p. 1/27 (old survey), c.p. 19 (new survey), corresponding to c.p. 1/26 (old survey), c.p. 20 (new survey), corresponding to c.p. 1/23 (old survey), c.p. 49 (new survey), corresponding to c.p. 7/161, 7/162, 7/163, 7/165, 7/167 and 7/169 (old survey), c.p. 50 and c.p. 1479 (part), cadastral municipality Brčko 1, Brčko District of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: Brčko District), Bosnia and Herzegovina.                

Historical information

Brčko has been inhabited without a break since prehistoric times. This is corroborated by the discovery of the remains of Roman tombstones and glass paste artefacts on the site around the Atik mosque. These finds indicate that human settlements existed as early as the 2nd century CE. However, no scientific analysis has ever been carried out, as a result of which it is almost impossible to obtain any data on Brčko prior to the 17th century.

The earliest reference to Brčko as a toponym, according to one source, is in 1548 (Blago na putevima Jugoslavije, 1983, 274), or in 1620, according to another source, in one of the descriptions of the Bosnian pashaluk(1). At that time, Brčko was in the Tuzla kadiluk (county) and the Zvornik sanjak (district). Brčko underwent a surge in development between 1620 and 1716. Two public baths, a tower, a mosque and several residential buildings date from that period. (Hadžimuhamedović, 1989).

In 1716 the Austrian army reduced the city to rubble. All the major buildings of that period were left in ruins. Until the Treaty of Belgrade, Brčko remained part of Austria. After the 1739 Belgrade Treaty, a redoubt with earthworks was built here(2), but was abandoned before 1833. There are no surviving remains of the earthworks (Blago na putevima Jugoslavije, 1983, 274). From 1739 to 1830 Brčko began to recover, though developing at a somewhat slower pace.

Given its favourable position on the river Sava, the town saw another surge in development with the establishment of the Danube steamship company in 1830 and the opening of one of the most important customs houses in Bosnia. At that time the town became an important junction, which accelerated the development of trade. In 1820 the Atik, Džedid, Varoš, Karanfil and Kolobara mahalas (residential quarters) were established in the town. In 1850, Srpska Varoš also began to take shape, running parallel to the Sava river, in the eastern part of the historic centre of Brčko. The 1882 geodetic survey reveals that some buildings had already been erected by that date.

The establishment of Austro-Hungarian rule brought more rapid development to Brčko and the strong influence of the European life style and building techniques. Since the borders on the river Sava ceased to exist with the occupation, trade began to flourish, bringing prosperity to all spheres of life. A new concept of town layout can be seen on the 1882 Austrian geodetic survey, with the town’s street laid out orthogonally instead of the organically formed quarters of the mahalas and čaršija.

Brčko began to develop into a modern town in both urban layout and architectural design. Eighteen schools of various types were built: three mektebs (Islamic primary schools) and a medresa (Islamic high school), a Serbian primary school, a state school and a commercial school. In 1880 the town's Jews built a synagogue, following by the White Mosque or Džedit (Ar. jadid, new) mosque. The Brčko Town Hall was built in 1892 in the pseudo-Moorish expression to an outline design by architect Alexander Wittek and a working design by architect Ćiril Iveković. The hospital was built in 1886. It was a major event for Brčko when the 775 m long bridge over the Sava was completed on 13 September 1894. The Posavina Hotel was built in 1891 by a prominent merchant, Alija Kučukalić, who came from Čačak. The residential property of the Kočić family(3) was built in the same eclectic pseudo-Moorish expression.

As noted, the town developed rapidly at this time, and many new buildings were erected in a range of architectural styles: pseudo-Moorish, neo-classical, Secession and so on.

It was at this time, too, that the trade and crafts centre of the Kolobara residential quarter came into being, consisting of privately-owned residential-cum-commercial properties built at various times during the Austro-Hungarian period by a merchant named Mehmedaga Kantardžić. Since these were not buildings of “public importance,” there is not much about them in writing, and even the 1895 geodetic survey of Brčko does not show this part of the town. However, given their use, they may be dated to the turn of the 19th and 20th century.

Social organizations with various aims and objectives were set up during the Austro-Hungarian period, among them a number of cultural, educational and artisanal associations, and reading rooms were opened in the country's small towns. One of the oldest Muslim societies was the Muslim educational and aid association known as Islahijjet in Brčko, founded in 1907. The word Islahijjet means betterment, improvement, reform. The society was set up by prominent Muslims of Brčko, and had subcommittees in six villages, with their own reading rooms, as well as holding literacy classes in the surrounding villages. The aim of the society was stated in these terms: “The aim is the cultural and economic advancement of the Muslim youth of the town and district of Brčko.” (Bukvica, 1936)

The society proposed to achieve this by providing material assistance to deserving and honest young people studying secular and religious subjects in the country, providing material assistance to young people undergoing training in various crafts and trades at home and abroad, combating alcoholism, illiteracy and begging, encouraging young people to attend school and learn a trade, and in general working for the education of Muslim youth. Article 3 of the society's Rules listed the means by which it proposed to achieve these objectives: by founding newspaper reading rooms and libraries, holding conversation soirées and public lectures, organizing outings and tombolas, and setting up subcommittees and commissions. The same article refers to a social fund for which a certain sum was to be set aside from the society's overall revenues. The capital of this fund was to be used to build or purchase its own premises, to be known as the Islahijjet Centre(4).

In 1922 a building that had been built in 1912(5) was purchased(6) and converted into the Islahijjet Centre. In 1935 the building was extended by the addition of a conference hall with room for more than 400 guests, complete with a stage (Bukvica, 1936).

In 1918 the building was the venue for the town's first workers' conference, at which trades union branches were formed – shoemakers, tailors (both modern and abadžija or traditional garment-makers), carpenters and joiners, and manual workers in the building trade. A trades union committee for Brčko was also elected. This conference had a major impact on the future development of the trades union movement in Brčko (plaque on the building, 1981).

 

2. Description of the property

The architectural ensemble is bounded by Islahijjet, Mehmed Malić and Ibrahim Džindić streets, and consists of the Islahijjet Centre and four residential-cum-commercial properties with storage facilities. The properties were built at different times and, given the irregular layout of the streets defining the ensemble and dictating its size, all are irregular in plan, with their walls aligned differently one from the other. All have the same number of storeys (ground floor and first floor), but differ in the treatment of the façades, mouldings and roofs.

The buildings are all in the historicist (neo-Renaissance) style, with the typical articulation of the façades by moulded string courses lacking any particular decorative elements, with two exceptions: the corner of the Islahijjet Centre and building no. 1, which have not only string courses but also pilasters rising through both storeys. In the case of building no. 1, the pilasters are linked at ground level by a decorative moulding of shallow arches. Given that the ground floor of the buildings was to be used for commercial purposes, on all the buildings except the Islahijjet Centre the ground-floor windows are without parapets. The rhythm and position of the ground-floor doors and windows of all the buildings are echoed by the first-floor fenestration, except in the case of building no. 5, where there are two windows at first-floor level directly above each of the ground-floor openings. On all the buildings the façades terminate in a moulded cornice with characteristic gutter; all the mouldings (cornice, string courses, pilasters and shallow arches) were executed in brick and finished with plaster.

In all the buildings the structural system consists of solid brick walls, one brick thicker on the ground floor than on the first floor. The interfloor structure was of timber with steel I girders. The ground-floor ceiling was also of wooden beams clad with boards. The gabled or three-paned roofs were composed of classic timber trusses and clad with plain beaver-tail tiles.

Since the buildings were erected one after another, as suggested by their architecture – the different ceiling heights, the gable walls and the form and finish of the façades – it seems likely that the bricked-up windows on the gable walls were probably originally open and were later bricked up as another building went up.

THE ISLAHIJJET CENTRE

The property was built in the historicist (neo-Renaissance) style, as reflected in the regular rhythm of the window openings and the prominent string courses and roof cornices. The influence of the Secession can be seen in the careful and conspicuous use of the architectural feature of the balcony and the use of wrought iron in its structure and balustrade. The building is rectangular in plan, rounded at the narrower ends. This deformation was dictated by the shape of the plot. The building stands between two streets and is a landmark in the townscape when seen from the right bank of the Brka river(7). The Islahijjet plays a dominant part in the formal treatment of the plot. The original values of the townscape ensemble formed by the buildings on the plot have been retained as regards the form, height and treatment of the façades of the Islahijjet, the features of historicism on the building of which the façade is a continuation of the south-west façade of the Islahijjet, and the formal characteristics of the building of which the façade is a continuation of the north-east façade of the second wing of the Islahijjet building.

The Islahijjet building consists of two adjoining wings, interconnected by a doorway on the first floor. The first or corner wing is smaller in footprint but the storeys are higher, and the façade is more highly articulated. In the other wing, the attic storey is also usable.

The structure is masonry with relieving arches above all major openings. The basic material is brick of non-standard size, 28 x 14 x 7.5 cm, with lime cement mortar as binder in the proportions 1:2:9 (cement/lime/sand). The façades are rendered in lime cement mortar and painted, and the interior is finished with lime mortar and limewash.

The interfloor structure is a reinforced concrete slab and braced ceiling structure. The foundations below the main bearing walls, like the bearing walls themselves, are 70 cm thick, with the remaining walls 15, 25 and 35 cm thick. The roof truss is timber, and the cladding is plain tiles (not original). Two concrete staircases connect the different storeys inside the building, replacing the original wooden staircases.

The façade of the corner wing of the Islahijjet is the more representative, with its higher storeys and more elaborate articulation than the other wing. The surfaces are articulated horizontally and vertically by moulded string courses and shallow pilasters. There are two moulded string courses between the ground and first floor (only parts of the string course with the simpler moulding remains).

During the most recent interventions, in 2000, the roof cornice was removed. Shallow rectangular pilasters with imitation rustication (horizontal pointing drawn in the plaster) extend over the full height of the façade. On the north-east and south-west façades these pilasters form three equal panels with centrally-placed windows. The ground floor window openings are rather large than those of the first floor. The original window opening on the south-west façade in the first panel to the left has been replaced by two smaller ones(8). The third panel to the left on the north-east side contains the entrance doorway, with its lintel at a higher level than the ground-floor window lintels. The window openings on the first floor are surrounded by moulded cornices.

The other wing of the building abuts directly onto the first, with which it is interconnected at first-floor level. In size and treatment of the façade it is more modest than the first. In the original design for the roof, the ridge was lower than that of the first wing by about 1.5 m. During the most recent reconstruction, in 2000, the two ridges were made equal in height. The façade is articulated horizontally by two moulded string courses between the ground and first floor and a moulded roof cornice. The window openings are arranged symmetrically at regular intervals and are surrounded by moulded cornices. The lintel of the entrance doorway in the north-east façade is at a lower level than that of the ground-floor window lintels. There were originally three entrance doorways(9).

The ground floor of the first wing originally housed a library and reading room, and the second wing a meeting hall with room for 400 guests.

The building has undergone several changes of use, with concomitant structural extensions and adaptations to the premises. The ground floor of the corner wing of the building consists of an entrance hall with staircase, a cloakroom, and one large room. There is only one room on the first floor, leading onto the balcony and into the other wing of the Islahijjet. This second wing is similar in layout to the corner wing. The ground floor entrance hall contains the staircase and cloakroom; the remainder is not partitioned off. The first floor and attic storey each contain a single room without partition walls.

The floors now lack their original finish, and there is no known record of what they were like. An observation of the coats of paint was carried out in the hall, parts of the staircase and the first floor, and it was found that the walls had been painted on several occasions, using lime plaster and limewash. Much of the area was originally painted in the style of Secessionist mass-produced interior decoration (plant and geometric designs). (Working project for the reconstruction, adaptation and restoration of the Islahijjet in Brčko.)

On 3 December 2007 the condition of the Islahijjet Youth Centre in Brčko was inspected. The findings were as follows:

1. The Islahijjet building was not in use;

2. The building was set on fire during the 1992-1995 war, and all the woodwork – roof trusses, doors and windows – was destroyed;

3. To prevent the building from deteriorating further, the Government of Brčko District had carried out urgent repair works on the building. These entailed an examination of the load-bearing capacity of the foundations and walls, bracing the building where the roof cornice had been, and replacing the roof trusses. The examination revealed that the load-bearing capacity of the walls had not been affected, but that constant changes in the level of the water table could have resulted in a weakening of the foundations. It was therefore proposed that a concrete ring be installed around the foundations of the entire building, but this was not carried out. A reinforced concrete ring beam was introduced as bracing at the level of the roof cornice. The original appearance of the roof and the roof trusses was not restored. The roof ridges on the two wings of the Islahijjet building were altered to be at the same height, whereas the roof ridge of the second wing was originally lower than that of the corner wing by about 1.5 m;

4. The façade surfaces had been damaged by adverse weather conditions, lack of maintenance and war damage. The guttering and downpipes installed in 2000 were damaged. The lower cordon of the string course on the corner wing of the building had been almost completely destroyed;

5. The doors and windows had been almost completely destroyed, with only parts of the window openings remaining. Some of the windows in the second wing have been boarded up. The entrance doorway to the corner building has been closed off with a „saloon doorway“ and locked. The entrance to the other wing has been boarded up but the boards are rickety and it is possible to enter the building;

6. Damage caused by damp, impact and detonations can be seen in the interior;

7. The water pipes, drainage pipes and electric wiring are in poor condition.

OTHER BUILDINGS IN THE GROUP

The other properties in the architectural group are classified in the Regulatory Plan for Kolobara Brčko as properties of townscape value.

Property no. 1 (on plot c.p. 49)

This property is rectangular in plan, measuring 8.80 x 8.40 m, and has two storeys (ground + 1). It abuts onto the adjoining properties on three sides, with its remaining façade facing Islahijjet street. The main entrance is from the south-west, through a 1.80 m wide door.      The ground floor contains three rooms, one measuring about 4.15 x 7.50 m, and two small interconnecting storerooms. The first floor measures 8.50 x 7.12 m. Since the building has been almost totally destroyed, it is not possible to determine the number of rooms on this storey.

The walls are of solid 30 x 14.5 x 7.5 cm brick. The ground floor walls are 60 cm thick and those of the first floor are 45 cm thick. The ceiling joists are typical of the Austro-Hungarian period, consisting of a combination of I-profile steel girders overlaid by secondary wooden joists, to which the wooden flooring is affixed. The ceilings consist of wooden joists to which boards and reeds are fixed. The roof structure consists of classic timber posts.

The property was rendered, but the effects of rainwater and rising damp have almost totally destroyed the façade. Despite this, part of the pilasters and capitals on the first floor and part of the pilasters linked by arches on the ground floor have survived, together with some of the original paintwork. The ground and first floor were separated by a single string course, and the façade is surmounted by a rather more prominent roof cornice.

The property was physically connected to property no. 2 at ground-floor level (through two arched doorways); presumably, therefore, they are of the same date.

The loss of the ceiling joists and roof trusses has caused the building to fall into ruin as a result of long-term exposure to the elements; all that now survives are its outside walls.

Property no. 2 (on plot c.p. 49)

This property also abuts onto the adjoining properties on three sides, with one façade facing Ibrahim Džindić street, and part of another (the width of a doorway) opening onto Islahijjet street.

The building is trapezoid in plan, with sides of approx. 6.25 x 10.90 x 9.30 x 12.05 m. The roof structure of this property was also badly damaged during the war in BiH, and the property is consequently largely in ruins (only the outside walls survive). Judging from the position of the entrance to the building (which had a rear entrance only, from Ibrahim Džindić street; the entrance from Islahijjet street was through building no. 1) and the remains of recesses in the inside walls (where there would have been shelves), this was probably a storage facility only for property no. 1, which would have been a shop.

The structural system is identical to that of property no. 1, with walls 60 cm thick on the ground floor and 45 cm thick on the first floor. The interstorey structure, which was of the same system as property no. 1 next door, has been completely destroyed. The roof structure is also missing, but the remains on the gable walls are sufficient to indicate the pitch of the roof. The ground-floor openings (doorway) are arched; the first-floor windows, in the axis above the ground-floor openings, are rectangular. The property was connected with property no. 1 at ground-floor level by two arched openings.

The roof cornice on the façade facing onto Islahijjet street is at the same height and moulding as that of next door property no. 1, with which it forms a single entity. The cornice on the façade facing onto Ibrahim Džindić street has been completely destroyed.

Property no. 3 (on plot c.p. 49)

This property is on the corner of Islahijjet and Ibrahim Džindić street, a factor that defines its architecture. This is the only property in this group on which the façade is articulated vertically; it has no string courses, but does have pilasters rising over the full height of the property, terminating in a horizontal cornice surmounted by an attic. This feature is typical of Secessionist architecture, suggesting that this was the last building to be erected.

The entrance to the property is on Islahijjet street. There is also a door, now bricked up on the inside, that formerly opened onto Ibrahim Džindić street. The property is rectangular in plan, measuring 9.50 x 11.00 m. It abuts onto the adjoining properties on two sides. A double-valved door 1.80 m wide and 3.60 m high leads into the ground floor. It formerly had another door on Ibrahim Džindić street, but this was later walled up.

The ground floor measures 8.25 x 10.10 m. There is now no staircase, but traces of it can be seen on the floor and ceiling of the ground floor. There is one room on the first floor.

The solid brick walls are 50 cm thick, and the ceiling joists consist of steel girders, with brick vaults on which the floor joists rest.

All the façade elements are extremely simple, with no particular decorative elements other than a simple decorative moulding around all the openings. The top of the cornice is at a height of 9.10 m. The roof was clad with plain beaver-tail tiles.

Property no. 4 (on plot c.p. 49)

The gable ends of this property abut onto the adjoining buildings. One side of the building faces Ibrahim Džindić street, the other Islahijjet street. The building is trapezoid in plan, measuring 7.60 x 12.00 x 9.30 x 12.05m, and has two storeys (ground+ 1). The ground floor has two commercial premises, one of which interconnects with property no. 5. Judging from the materials used for this purpose, the works were probably carried out at the end of the 20th century.

Alterations can be seen on the façade resulting from some of the windows being bricked up: almost all those facing onto Ibrahim Džindić street have been bricked up (both the ground-floor and the first-floor windows directly above them, were later bricked up), with the exception of one door, probably the tradesmen's entrance, but on the façade facing onto Islahijjet street both ground-floor openings have retained their original appearance, though the first-floor windows were later altered in shape and size (set asymmetrically in relation to the ground-floor openings, and with concrete lintels added later). The façade facing Islahijjet street still has its two doors at ground-floor level, still with their iron shutters. The façades were simple, articulated by a horizontal string course and roof cornice. The roof cornice was rather more complex than the string course between the ground and first floor. The gabled roof structure has survived, but has deteriorated and become deformed as a result of damage to the roof cladding. The original roof cladding was plain beaver-tail tiles, but the surviving remains of the cladding show that these were later replaced by grooved tiles.

Property no. 5 (on plot c.p. 50)

This is also a corner property, and is of irregular trapezoidal plan, measuring 3.70 x 7.40 x 6.2 x 7.14 m. The first floor of this property is currently being used for residential purposes.

The construction of the building is the same as in property no. 4 – solid brick bearing walls, and timber floor and ceiling joists and roof trusses. The ground floor was used for commercial purposes (interconnected with property no. 4), with a flat above. Properties 4 and 5 are not semi-detached, but have a narrow gap, about 60 cm wide, between them, and were later interconnected for practical reasons. A veranda was later built onto the façade facing onto Ibrahim Džindić street, forming the entrance to the building.

The façades have undergone many alterations over the years. The openings on the ground floor have also been much altered in size and appearance, with those facing onto Ibrahim Džindić street walled up and those facing onto Islahijjet street provided with parapets. The first-floor windows have retained their original form, but those facing onto Ibrahim Džindić street have been walled up. The mouldings around the windows have survived in part, as have the string courses and cornice.

The roof structure has survived, albeit in poor condition (with noticeable sagging). The roof is triple-paned, and clad with plain beaver-tail tiles.

Properties on plot c.p. 17

Two two-storey buildings are located on plot 17, of which the one to the east is a duplex. Property 1 (to the west) has a footprint of approx. 10.00 x 8.75 m and property 2 (the duplex, to the east) has a footprint of approx. 15.25 x 10.00 m. They were built as a terrace, and both have gabled roofs clad with tiles; the roof of property 1 is about 1 m lower than that of the building next door. Both are commercial properties. By analogy with the adjoining properties, they probably had a substantial structural system with solid brick walls. The façades are plain, without any decoration or mouldings other than a string course between the ground and first floor and a somewhat more elaborate roof cornice. The roof frames have survived, though in very poor condition and visibly sagging, and are clad with plain beaver-tail tiles.

Property on plot c.p. 19

Planning permission has been granted to build a commercial-cum-residential property on plot c.p. 19 (two storeys – business premises on the ground floor and residential on the first floor). This building forms the continuation of the terrace of which the two buildings on the adjoining plot c.p. 17 are part.

The Regulatory Plan for Kolobara Brčko classifies the property as of townscape value and provides for its reconstruction.

The geodetic base for the survey of the current condition of the proposed planning project for the historic urban centre of Brčko shows the building as having a footprint of 7 x 9 m. The planning permission based on the proposal of the planning project is for a commercial-cum-residential property (retail, catering or services) of roughly the same footprint as that shown on the geodetic base; 7.00 x 10.00 m, with two storeys (ground + 1). The erection of the building on the site has begun on this basis.

The available archival photographic documentation reveals that the property was original of one storey only, with a gabled roof about 3 m lower than the adjoining buildings, clad with plain beaver-tail tiles. The façade was plain, without decoration or mouldings. According to the available documentation, the property was demolished in the mid 1970s when the nearby bridge and road were built.

Though the provisions of the planning permission and the spatial planning documentation referred to, on the basis of which the building works are currently being carried out on the site, allow for a two-storey building, it is vital, to preserve the townscape value of the architectural ensemble, to reconstruct the building in line with the vertical and horizontal dimensions shown in the archive photographs – indeed, this is the only acceptable solution. The exact height of the building should be determined by a geometric and analytical analysis of the available archive photographs.

Property on plot c.p. 48

Plot c.p. 48 is currently unbuilt-up, and is used as a car park. The available spatial planning and archive photographic documentation shows that there was a single-storey, roughly rectangular building on the site, its footprint following the boundaries of the plot. According to the available documentation, the property was demolished in the late 1970s when the nearby bridge and road were built.

The Regulatory Plan for Kolobara Brčko classifies the property as of townscape value and provides for its reconstruction.

The geodetic base for the survey of the current condition of the proposed planning project for the historic urban centre of Brčko shows the building as having a footprint of about 14.00 x 24 m. The planning permission based on the proposal of the planning project is for a commercial-cum-residential property (retail, catering or services) of roughly the same footprint as that shown on the geodetic base: 14.00 x 124.00 m.

The available archive photographic documentation reveals that:

-       the property was a single-storey of roughly the same height as the ground floor of the Islahijjet Centre;

-       it had a three-paned roof clad with plain beaver-tail tiles;

-       the façade was articulated by pilasters rising the full height of the building;

-       that string courses featured only on the corner of the building over the main entrance, which was further accentuated by a cornice and triangular attic in each of the three panels between the pilasters;

-       that all the elements of the façade were plain, with no particular decorative elements;

-       that all the openings were surrounded by a simple decorative moulding.

In order to preserve the townscape value of the architectural ensemble, it is vital to reconstruct the building in line with the vertical and horizontal dimensions shown in the archive photographs – indeed, this is the only acceptable solution. The exact height of the building should be determined by a geometric and analytical analysis of the available archive photographs, and the footprint should be accurately determined by investigative works on the foundations and a geodetic survey of the surviving foundations.

 

3. Legal status to date

In 1979 the Islahijjet building was placed under the protection of the municipality(10).

The Islahijjet Youth Centre in Brčko is on the Provisional List of National Monuments of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments under serial no. 133.

There is no information concerning any protection applicable to the other buildings in the group.

 

4. Research and conservation and restoration works

Research works were carried out on the Islahijjet building in 2005 as part of the process of drawing up the working project for the reconstruction, adaptation and restoration of the Islahijjet. It was found that about 60% of the original structure has survived, with the remainder consisting of interventions ranging from intrusive concrete works to replacing brick partition walls.

The earliest interventions on the building date from the period between 1912 and 1960, when the first-floor ceiling of the corner wing of the building was replaced. This could have been done when the other wing was being built, when the system of vaults resting on steel traverses was replaced by a reinforced-concrete infill, resulting in the system of braced ceiling structure.

The first major interventions date from the period between 1945 and 1960. The greatest of these are to be seen on the staircase flights, with the addition of a flight in the second wing, leading into the roof space. This multiflight concrete staircase was built in the 1980s onto the original 1920s staircase. The staircase in the corner wing of the building was also built onto. The partition walls of the cloakrooms in both wings of the building date from the same period. At this time, too, the interfloor structure in the second wing of the building was replaced or repaired in places with a reinforced concrete slab. The relieving arches over the window lintels were replaced by reinforced concrete beams.

In the 1980s, major works were carried out on the façades. Almost the entire original rendering was stripped off and new rendering applied, using plaster and paint that did not match the authentic materials in either colour or other features (composition of the paint). One window opening on the façade of the corner wing was replaced by two smaller windows.

The most recent interventions, in 2000, were necessitated by the damage incurred during the war, when the building was set on fire and the original roof structure was destroyed. Roofing works (cladding) were carried out. In the other wing, a special kind of prefab slab was constructed, supported by reinforced concrete girders resting on reinforced concrete piers. The roof structure consists of posts set 3.2 m apart. The cladding is plain tiles, with matching ridge tiles. The original roof cornice was removed as part of these works. (Working project for the reconstruction, adaptation and restoration of the Islahijjet in Brčko.)

It is not known whether any research or conservation and restoration works have been carried out on the other buildings in the architectural ensemble.

 

5. Current condition of the property

The findings of an inspection of the Islahijjet Youth Centre in Brčko conducted on 3 December 2007 were as follows:

-       the Islahijjet building was not in use;

-       the building was set on fire during the 1992-1995 war and all the woodwork – roof timbers, doors and windows – was destroyed;

-       in order to prevent the building from further deterioration the Government of Brčko District financed urgent remedial works, consisting of an examination of the state of the bearing foundations and walls of the building, reinforcing the building at roof-cornice height and remaking the roof trusses. The examination revealed that the bearing capacity of the walls was unimpaired, but that the constantly changing level of the water table could cause the bearing capacity of the foundations to fail. It was therefore proposed that a concrete ring beam should be laid around the foundations of the entire building, but this was not carried out. A reinforced concrete ring beam was installed at roof-cornice height. The roof and roof trusses were not restored to their original condition. The ridges of the corner section and the rest of the Islahijjet building were set at the same height, although the roof ridge of the rest of the building was about 1.5 m lower than that of the corner section;

-       the façades were damaged by exposure to the elements, neglect and the war. The system of guttering and downpipes installed to drain the roof built in 2000 is damaged. The lower cordon string course of the corner section of the building has been almost completely destroyed;

-       the doors and windows have been almost completely destroyed, with only parts of the window frames remaining. Some of the windows in the rest of the building had been boarded up, and the entrance at the corner section of the building had been closed off by a saloon door and locked. The entrance to the rest of the building was boarded up, but the boards were loose and it was possible to enter the building;

-       inside, there was visible damage caused by damp, impact, detonations and so on;

-       the plumbing and electric wiring were in poor condition.

On 17 May 2008 the other buildings in the group were inspected. All are in very poor condition with the exception of property no. 3.

-       the roofs of properties no. 1, 2 and 4 have been burnt out, and the roof frames have become almost totally ruinous over the past ten years;

-       the top parts of the walls are in very poor conditions;

-       decorative elements have survived here and there;

-       the presence of rising damp was noted in the buildings;

-       the ceiling joists are almost totally ruinous in all the buildings;

-       the façades are in very poor condition as a result of adverse weather conditions and neglect;

-       the use of modern building materials (cement mortar) has merely hastened the process of deterioration;

-       self-sown weeds were observed in and on the buildings;

-       there is a risk that the buildings will fall into complete ruin in the near future;

-       the properties are a danger to the lives of the people living there (property no. 5).

On 26 February 2009 the condition of the buildings in the Islahijjet architectural ensemble was inspected. The findings were as follows:

-       The Islahijjet building has been rehabilitated; the first stage in its reconstruction and restoration has been completed, consisting of works on the exterior façades, carpentry and most of the interior works;

-       The other buildings in the architectural ensemble are in poor structural condition, all the damage having been caused by either complete lack of or poor maintenance and by leaving the buildings vacant, the effects of the elements (lack of roof structure or roofs in poor condition, poor drainage, dilapidated guttering etc.), and extensive rising damp in the walls of the buildings. Their condition has deteriorated still further since the inspection conducted on 17 May 2008, as a result of failure to take the necessary emergency steps to protect them from further deterioration.

 

III – CONCLUSION

Applying the Criteria for the adoption of a decision on proclaiming an item of property a national monument (Official Gazette of BiH nos. 33/02 and 15/03), the Commission has enacted the Decision cited above.

The Decision was based on the following criteria:

A.         Time frame

B.         Historical value

D.         Clarity

D.iv.     evidence of a particular type, style or regional manner

E.         Symbolic value

F.         Townscape/ Landscape value

F.i.       relation to other elements of the site

F.ii.       meaning in the townscape

G.         Authenticity

G.vi.     spirit and feeling

I.          Completeness

I.i.         physical coherence

I.ii.        homogeneity

I.iii.       completeness.

 

The following documents form an integral part of this Decision:

-       Copy of cadastral plan

-       Copy of land register entry and proof of title

-       Photodocumentation

-       Drawings

 

Bibliography

During the procedure to designate the architectural ensemble of the Islahijjet in Brčko as a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina the following works were consulted:

 

1925.    Veliki župan Tuzlanske oblasti, Pravila za izgradnju Islahijjetova doma u Brčkom, (Grand Prefect of Tuzla District, Rules for the Construction of the Islahijjet Centre in Brčko), Issuance no. 6948.

 

1926.    Veliki župan Tuzlanske oblasti, Pravila potpornog društva «Islahijjet» u Brčkom (Grand Prefect of Tuzla District, Rules of the Islahijjet Aid Association in Brčko), Issuance no. 491. Vinkovci: Ljudevit Kajzer, 1926.

 

1936.    Dr Bukvica, Abdulah. “Tridesetogodišnjica «Islahijjeta» u Brčkom” (Thirtieth Anniversary of Islahijjet in Brčko), Novi behar yr X no. 15-16.

 

1940.    Dr Bukvica, Abdulah. “Brčanski «Islahijjet» u službi zajednice” (Islahijjet of Brčko in the Service of the Community), Gajret calendar for 1941. Bosanska pošta Press.

 

1971.    Dr. Marković, Jovan. Brčko – najveći grad Bosanske Posavine, Gradovi Jugoslavije (Brčko – the largest town of the Bosnian Sava valley, Towns and Cities of Yugoslavia). Belgrade: Institute for the Publication of Textbooks of SR Serbia, 1971, 175 – 178.

 

1983.    Blago na putevima Jugoslavije (Treasures on Yugoslavia's Roads), encyclopaedic tourist guide. Belgrade: Jugoslavija publish, 1983, 2.

 

2002.    Planning Authority of BiH, Sarajevo: Regulatory Plan, Kolobara Brčko

 

2008.    Projekt joint stock company Banja Luka, Proposal, Planning Project for the Historic Urban Centre of Brčko – draft project.


(1) The description of the settlement related to the ferry on the river Sava and inhabitants of the settlements, who were mainly ferrymen.

(2)  This was probably a fortification made of logs and strong stakes with wickerwork, banked up with soil on the outer side. There was invariably a moat (hendek) around such fortifications.

(3) According to Dr. Bećirević Nedžad, the house was built by the same merchant, Alija Kučukalić, in 1890-1907.

(4) Ljudevit Kajzer, Pravila potpornog društva «Islahijjet» u Brčkom

(5)  A metal plaque with an inscription found by the entrance.

(6) A rulebook for the construction of the Islahijjet Centre in Brčko was produced in 1925, specifying the building committee, its duties, the funds for the construction, ownership, the issuance of certificates to benefactors, the way benefactors were to be recorded, the manner in which donations were to be paid, the procedure in the event of a suspension of charitable donations, rules on the use of the fund, a definition of the bonds/certificates on the payment of charitable donations, the requirement to seek a building permit from the town council in Brčko before the start of building works, the duration and validity of the rule book, and the appointment of an action committee.

(7) There are another four buildings of the same period on the plot. The building with its façade forming the extension of the north-east façade of the second wing of the Islahijjet building is conspicuous for its height, and the treatment of its façade is rather less severe than that of the Islahijjet.

(8) As can be seen on old photographs.

(9) Old photographs.

(10) Planning decision, Brčko Municipality.



Islahijet, the architectural ensembleIslahijet, the architectural ensembleIslahijet buildingIslahijet – The building No. 3 in the front
Islahijet – The building No. 5 in the front The architectural ensemble - IslahijetThe architectural ensemble - IslahijetThe architectural ensemble - Islahijet in 2005
Islahijet in 2005InteriorInterior 


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