The Poljana Square in Šibenik, Croatia is an integrated urban, social and infrastructural space designed to connect the city’s medieval past with the modern present.

Designed by Atelier Minerva in collaboration with the Faculty of Architecture, University of Zagreb and Institute of Architecture, the new Šibenik main square with a total built area of 11,800 square metres, features an aboveground archaeological park, which serves as a social space as well as an underground parking garage and logistics centre representing the infrastructural component.

Poljana, which means ‘field’, was originally the flat summit of a rocky promontory, located right in front of the medieval city gates. The large platform that it is today is the result of continuous levelling over the centuries, with the definitive outline taking shape in the late 1800s.

In the contemporary city structure, Poljana Square is an unframed dynamic space, intersected with different routes and grids – a central connecting mechanism for the city’s public places, the architects said.

The Poljana Square is designed as a continuous three-dimensional urban platform without any obtrusive solid volumes, accommodating various social events and mediating between historical and modern urban artefacts. The proposed strategy is open-type, establishing a dialogue in the indefinite field of the modern city and, while preserving the existing identity, directs future use towards new scenarios in a discrete transformation.

“Spatial folds form places for social gathering including open tribunes and stages as well as a bridge, canopy and fountain. The surface of the square superimposes two networks – a classic grid towards the theatre and a flexible square field of points directed by the logic of the library building and historical ramparts with spatial accents in corners, which introduce the surrounding features into the space of the main square,” the architects explained.

“The surface is activated by movement directions recognised in everyday life and history – and in meeting places along them. In network intersecting areas, spatial folds form extended, raised surfaces on the roofs of the pavilions. The canopy, a floating dynamic artefact, provides a link and defines the spatial boundary of the square, thus creating a dialogue and continuity of forms in the new age.”

The underground structure incorporating the garage and logistics centre features reinforced concrete construction and industrial floors. The logistics centre includes a mobility management centre and charging stations for electric vehicles. The aboveground section is a modern urban deck paved with Mediterranean white stone and can also host events and performances.