Macedonia: Protest against 'faux-baroque' mall makeover

The GTC shopping centre Image copyright Sinisa Jakov Marusic/Balkan Insight
Image caption The shopping centre's concrete facade will be covered with pillars and statues, under plans outlined by the government

Protesters have formed a human chain around a modernist Macedonian shopping mall because they don't want it to be given a makeover, it's reported.

The government has earmarked the GTC centre in central Skopje for a "faux-baroque" facelift, but fans of the 1970s building think it should be left alone, the Balkan Insight website reports. Protesters surrounded the building in a "symbolic embrace" despite freezing temperatures and heavy snow, calling for the building to be protected, the website says. Plans include cladding the facade with classical columns and topping the building with statues and domes, but critics say entrances which people use to cross the city will also be blocked off.

The Association of Macedonian Architects (AAM), which is leading a campaign against the redevelopment, describes the shopping centre as "part of our cultural heritage and an inseparable part of Skopje's identity". The AAM wants the building to remain "authentic and urban", and says it has collected 10,000 signatures from local people who agree. But the plans are just one part of a much bigger project. Macedonia's government has given the capital city a major revamp in recent years in an attempt to raise its profile, erecting neoclassical statues and fountains, and adding baroque embellishments to existing modernist concrete buildings.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Skopje's brutalist buildings now sit alongside more classical designs, including a 40-tonne bronze statue of Alexander the Great

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