The new face of Žabljak as seen through the lens of architecture students

ŽABLJAK – “Today we are talking about the results of a competition that inspired young architecture students from Montenegro and the region towards applying contemporary architectonic expression forms that respect the principles of sustainable construction, energy efficiency and economic feasibility of the design,” said Ms. Kristine Blokhus, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative to Montenegro at the opening of the Exhibition of a competition held for students from the region,  on urban-architectonic design for the development of the central zone in the Municipality of Žabljak. The competition was organized by the Municipality of Žabljak, the Faculty of Architecture of Podgorica and UNDP Montenegro, in the framework of the Spatial Planning Support Project financed by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).

The town of Žabljak (, in the foothill of Durmitor mountain, is becoming an increasingly popular and attractive destination for tourists from all over the world. In order to enrich the tourism package on offer in Žabljak, the Faculty of Architecture of Podgorica, Municipality of Žabljak and UNDP Montenegro organized an international student competition aiming to explore possibilities for optimal usage of space, including modern architectural expression and respect for sustainable building principles.

The interest in the competition was great: as many as 14 proposals came from Montenegro and abroad. This indicates that future young architects have appreciation for the environment and ideas and knowledge on how to plan urban development in a sustainable way. The expert jury awarded three proposals – all by students of the Faculty of Architecture of Podgorica.

The first prize went to the design proposal ‘Mountain Eyes’ (‘Gorske oči’) by postgraduates Gordana Rovčanin, Jasmina Salković, Miloš Ostojić, Davor Raspopović, Milan Milić and Vuk Čvoro. The jury evaluated their proposal as a rational, logical, and economically feasible solution, which aimed to reduce traffic, envisaging a pedestrian zone and a good connection with the memorial complex dedicated near the city center.

The second prize was awarded to the ‘Loop’ (‘Petlja’) submitted by final year students Enes Nurković, Aleksandra Novićević, Marija Pantović, Andrijana Jokić, Ivana Rondović, Mia Kecojević and Gordana Dragojević.

The third prize was awarded to the proposal under the code ‘Isohypse 1441’ (‘Izohipsa 1441) by Dijana Vučinić and Slavko Lekić.

The consolation prize was given to the proposal ‘2207’ by Milena Blagojević and the proposal ‘Liberty’ by Nikola Pantović, Mirza Mulić, Eldin Kanalić and Teodora Gojšina.

The exhibition was opened by Mr. Vasilije Jakšić, Deputy Mayor of Žabljak, Mr. Svetislav G. Popović, Chair of the Jury and professor at the Faculty of Architecture of Podgorica and Ms. Kristine Blokhus, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative to Montenegro.

“When I came to Žabljak the first time, I was struck by the natural beauty here – the wonderful high mountains, blue lakes and dense coniferous forests. It is not difficult, here, to buy in to UNDP’s commitment to addressing sustainable development in the North through focus on ‘green’ economic development that preserves the unique nature,” said Ms. Blokhus and congratulated the students for their effort and a high quality work. Ms. Blokhus expressed belief that this concept of involving students and young experts in creating development designs can be successfully replicated in the other areas of Montenegro, especially in the North. “I am especially looking forward to the local authorities’ transfusing future young architects’ enthusiasm and fresh ideas to an attractive and sustainable reality,” Ms. Blokhus concluded.

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UNDP has been implementing the Spatial Planning Support Project for 5 years, with an overall goal to assist the Government of Montenegro in integrating sustainable development principles into planning process and in enforcing the legislation on planning and construction.

One of the activities that were successfully implemented during the mentioned period was cooperation with the Montenegrin Faculty of Architecture. A previous example of this cooperation was a similar student competition organized for Mojkovac in 2009 (, and an exhibition of best works from that competition at the Venice Biennale in the summer 2010, considered as the most important architecture event in Europe.

Catalogue of Proposals (in Montenegrin): Katalog radova sa međunarodnog konkursa za izradu idejnog urbanističko-arhitektonsko rješenja centralne zone grada Žabljaka (6MB)