Keywords:Kenzo Tange, City center plan for Skopje, City Wall housing complex, Symbolic cityscape image, disregarded cultural heritage
The 1963 earthquake in Skopje, North Macedonia, prompted an international response culminating in the Town Planning Project financed by the UN Special Fund, which resulted in a new master plan for the city. An international competition for the reconstruction of the Skopje city center was launched as part of the project. The Kenzo Tange entry, which won three-fifths of the first prize, became a representation of the new Skopje. It relied on an autofabulation approach, using elements like ‘city gate’ and ‘city wall’ as important parts of the concept. One of the major features was the City Wall housing development which encircled the central business district (CBD). This paper examines the initial proposal and the phases it passed through to become a new development plan for the center. In this process, Tange played a significant role, defining major planning aspects of the complex, which was later completed according to projects by local architects. The City Wall supported housing as permanent activity in the center and introduced a housing complex of towers and blocks, which became a prominent feature of the Skopje skyline. Although it had to be adapted to the existing conditions and some of the original ideas had to be abandoned, the City Wall complex stood the test of time. Unfortunately, especially since the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s, a number of interventions and alterations have compromised its appearance and some of the basic ideas. The paper argues that the City Wall complex should be proclaimed a cultural heritage, and immediate action should be taken to prevent irreparable damage and to preserve the City Wall as an important and recognizable image of Skopje’s townscape.