Nikola Bašić:
A Monument to Kornati Firefighters

Within the framework of the Annual Exhibition of Realizations by Croatian Architects in 2010, which is set to take place at the end of the week in Split, the Croatian Architects’ Association (CAA) will confer their awards for the most successful Croatian architects’ realizations in 2010 both in Croatia and abroad.

The nominated realizations contending for the ‘Bernardo Bernardi’, ‘Drago Galić’ and ‘Viktor Kovačić’ Awards, respectively, were featured here, while all nominated projects will be presented within the next couple of weeks.

Today we present “A Monument to Kornati Firefighters on Island of Kornat, by author Nikola Bašić, a project awarded with “Bernardo Bernardi” Award for most successful 2010 realization in the field of shaping.

Intervention in a (public) space > A Monument to Kornati Firefighters, Island of Kornat

Author: Nikola Bašić

More on the project after the break:


The Kornat “rock cadaster” of impressive proportions while at first glance seeming to serve a puzzling purpose appears as archaic land art in its artistic abstract geometrical landscape. Nevertheless the Kornat dry wall network is more than a monumental metaphor of human effort, suffering and sacrifice, as well as indestructible hope.


Transpositioning the characteristic Kornat dry wall, along with its distinct purpose and significance into the shape and meaning of a cross is tantamount to semantic juxtapositioning human and divine suffering, martyrdom and casualties.

Field of crosses

Crosses of megalithic dimensions connect dispersed places of casualties into a coherent memorial space – the Kornat Necropolis. In their imposing magnitude they communicate by broad archipelago mainland and sea surface panoramas.


The sign of a cross is developed from a double dry wall of 1.20 m average height and 0.6 m average width (2:1).

The cross is 25.0 m long vertically, and 14.5 m horizontally.

The crosses are set horizontally to the contour lines which as a rule fall in line with the ground’s geological layers.

The slant of the ground amounts to 20-30%, meaning that for an average ground slant of 25% the vertical height increment amounts to 10.0 m.  Thus the topographic morphology takes the set (2D) crossed wall elevating it (3D) into a beacon within the broad panoramic vista.

Entrance into the memorial space is shaped as an open chapel formed as a rotund 14.50 m in diameter whose guardian is Saint Florian, Patron Saint of Firefighters.

Personalization of the sign

All the crosses are in identical dimensions and shape, but the morphological features of every micro-locality produce an individualized variation of the basic character in the end.

Further personalization of the sign is carried out by writing the victims’ names onto the selected stone in the walled up alignment, matching the anthropomorphic position of the heart. In addition to the names, dates of birth and death, firefighter community affiliation; selected messages, Bible quotes or verses chosen by family, friends, firefighters’ societies are also written into the walled up rocks. Opposed to artistic determinism each and every one of the personalized signs is open to spontaneous consequential intimate and symbolic individualization.


In the Monument’s developmental stages, the formative process of the project was elevated above the authority of the project. That process implies voluntary participation of people who aren’t mere “contractors”, instead they “embed” themselves into the monument with their exertion, sweat and skill thus becoming its mental substance, its key component.

The unfortunate Kornat accident produced an unprecedented social trauma in Croatian society caused by feelings of helplessness, collective guilt and fear in the face of mystical powers of the unknown.

Hence the broad participation in the construction process of this monument implied both learning and witnessing, at the same time an individual and collective penance.

It ultimately produced a feeling of cathartic atonement.

Year of designing: 2010.

Year of construction completion: 2010.


Nikola Bašić


Zvonimir Bušić


Josip Klarica, Ivo Pervan, Davor Šarić