Adaptation and Reconstruction of Dom Revolucije

Nikšic, Montenegro 2016

community and infrastructure

international competition, 1st prize

Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism Montenegro

Nikšic, Montenegro

Site area
23.288 m2

Building area
8.755 m2

Total floor area
21.738 m2

Renovated area
7.000 m2


cafe, education, workshops, performance, events

reinforced concrete, steel trusses, extensive glazing

prefabricated insulating panels, glazing, wood structure

SADAR+VUGA, HHF Architects and Dijana Vučinić

competition team:
SADAR+VUGA (Jurij Sadar, Boštjan Vuga, Kenneth Woods), HHF (Tilo Herlach, Simon Hartmann, Simon Frommenwiler, Mariana Santana, Matija Vukovic, Marta Malinverni), Luise Rellensmann (cultural heritage expert), Archicon (local consultant)

development team:
SADAR+VUGA (Jurij Sadar, Boštjan Vuga, Janž Omerzu, Tomaž Krištof, Tjaša Plavec, Rok Debevec, Danica Sretenović), HHF Architects (Tito Herlach, Simon Hartmann, Simon Frommenwiler, Matija Vuković), Dijana Vučinić, Archicon

Dom Revolucije is a spectacular, eccentric, unfinished mega-project by Slovenian Architect Marko Mušič that commemorates „the fallen fighters for freedom and socialist revolution from Nikšić and its surroundings“.

The story of the project is monumental as well a construction committee of 90 people; the gross building area of 9’000m2 at the time of the competition in 1976, increased to 11’000m2 during conceptual design. Construction started in 1978 and when it was stopped in 1989, the size of the project reached 22’000m2 and included facilities such as cultural, education and information centers, youth club, catering facility, summer amphitheater, studios for ballet, music, drama, visual arts, design, gallery, TV Studio, library and so on.

It is very likely that the construction of Dom Revolucije would never have been finished as projected anyway due to its colossal increase in size and costs. Furthermore, the collapse of Yugoslavia terminated all reasonable hopes that the building will ever be what it was meant to be.

30 years later the state of Montenegro organized a competition to help the city of Nikšić deal with the unfinished construction site – this huge artificial mountain in the very center of the small city. SADAR+VUGA, HHF Architects and local partner Arhicon won the competition with a simple and pragmatic formula:

  1. 70% to be left as it is – visible and unusable, but ready for possible adaptations in the future;
  2. 20% to be made accessible and secured as a public space;
  3. 10% to be reprogrammed by creating new plug-ins, activators, such as a café, an auditorium, offices for university and non-governmental organizations, commercial spaces, a fitness etc.

The specific location of Dom Revolucije makes it a unique node between the pedestrian city center and car-oriented residential neighborhood. The newly established promenades inside the structure assure continuity between the building and its surroundings. This newly gained access into the ruin is intended to alter the society’s negative perception of the building while simultaneously transforming it into an open urban landscape. City life can now gradually occupy the previously forbidden area, creating a pulsing public space, while organically integrating it into the city’s tissue. The intention is not to reincarnate what Dom Revolucije was supposed to be, originally, but redefine it as an important node within the city landscape.

The project will be executed in five phases: firstly, the construction site will be cleaned of the debris, the existing glass façade removed and the construction site prepared. Secondly, steel and concrete structures will be examined and reconstructed where necessary. Thirdly, the ground floor will be redefined with new landscape design and indoor promenades. Fourthly, the commercial and cultural spaces – so-called plug-ins – will be finished, and fifthly, the garage constructed.

The result of this proposal will be the Re-Use of the unfinished Dom Revolucije as a spectacular public space – not the way it was conceived initially, but as a stabilization of what it has become since then.

The large-scale building model was presented as one of the four Montenegrin modernist architectures within the “Treasures in Disguise” exhibition at the Montenegrin pavilion of the 14th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice in 2014. In September 2017 the project will be presented at the Chicago Biennial of Architecture as one of the cornerstone projects of its “Making New History” theme, and in August 2018 it will be presented at the annual DOCOMOMO conference in Ljubljana and published in a book on re-use projects in Montenegro.