Central Post Office in Skopje, NORTH MACEDONIA
The Central Post Office is a remarkable building located in Skopje and represents the modernist Brutalist architectural style of the post-war era. It was designed by the North Macedonian architect and artist Janko Konstantinov and finalised in 1974.
The building’s exceptionally powerful structure is made of reinforced concrete, in the shape of a lotus flower. It was built to serve as the administrative Counter Hall for the Telecommunications and Postal Centre of the Federative Republic of Macedonia. Its lotus shape was intended to symbolize the reconstruction of the city of Skopje after the heavy earthquake which caused damage to the city and its infrastructure in 1963.
This extraordinary example of highly expressive and sculptural 20th-century architecture is of vital importance to the visual and symbolic architectural landscape and brutalist ensemble in the heart of Skopje, as well as for the heritage of Europe and beyond. The building is also significant as a symbol of post-earthquake resilience.
The building survived a massive fire in 2013. However, the original glazing of the dome and the murals by the interior designer Borko Lazeski, as well as the custom-made furnishings and lighting, were either completely lost or suffered serious damage.
The Central Post Office building, including its principal interior and wall paintings, is today even more endangered by disuse and deterioration, along with the presence of undermining erosion caused by rising groundwater due to the close proximity of the Vardar river. As the building still has no roof, it suffers from direct exposure to atmospheric influences with rain and snow penetrating its interior.
The nomination of the Central Post Office to the 7 Most Endangered programme 2021 was submitted by the Institute for Research in Environment, Civil Engineering and Energy (IECE). It is supported by the state-owned joint-stock company for postal traffic “POST of North Macedonia”-Skopje, the Ministry of Culture of North Macedonia, Fraunhofer IBP and the consultant Dr. Georgi Georgiev, both based in Germany.
The future of the Central Post Office is uncertain, as buildings of this form and construction are highly complex to restore. Raising public awareness on the importance of protecting and reusing the building is one of the main goals of the IECE. The nominator of the Central Post Office advocates for the repurposing of the building as a centre for cultural and social activities with focus on both local and international audiences.
The Advisory Panel of the 7 Most Endangered Programme stated: “The Central Post Office represents everything the 7 Most Endangered Programme is about: a heritage site of extraordinary significance that is a bold symbol of the rebirth of a city post-earthquake. This site needs to be reborn a second time.”
Graham Bell, member of the Advisory Panel, emphasised: “The Central Post Office is one of the strongest landmarks in Skopje, a lotus flower floating on the Vardar river, which embodies earth-spiritual influences in architecture, from Aalto in Scandinavia to Japan’s Kenzō Tange. Unfortunately the flower is withering from neglect. A stirring heart in Germany has rallied support to save it. This symbol of national resilience, portrayed upon a European canvas, is cultural significance at its purest and most fragile. This is why the Central Post Office has been included in the shortlist of Europe’s most endangered monuments and heritage sites for 2021”.