The devastating floods that hit Bosnia and Herzegovina in May revealed outdated planning mechanisms, as well as a growing problem of landslides in areas with informal settlements. A task force initiated at the open plenum of architects in Sarajevo aims to develop a response.
The most catastrophic floods to hit the Balkans in living memory are being compared to the terrifying destruction of the 1990s conflict. A quarter of the national territory was partly or completely flooded, leaving thousands of citizens displaced and 25 confirmed dead. More than 800 km2 of approximately 1,200 km2 of known mined areas have been affected by flooding and topsoil movement.
Over 100,000 building structures are no longer functional, and more than a million people had been cut off from clean water supplies. Planning strategies – mostly based on decades-old legislation dating from the socialist Yugoslavia era – were not able to provide measures to prevent such a negative scenario. In addition, informal constructions are located mostly in areas that are easily exposed to flooding and landslides.
Centered around the Bosnian-Herzegovinian Association of Architects and several NGOs, the thematic task force called ASAPP (Abbreviation in Bosnian language describing the aims of the task force) was initiated in late May at the open plenary of architects in Sarajevo. It aims to raise awareness of these issues, as well as kick-start a necessary discussion around rehabilitation measures for affected settlements. The initial activities will include mapping of damaged areas, in addition to the development of preventive planning scenarios and policy recommendations.
Dipl.-Ing. Haris Piplas, M.Sc. Urban Design is PhD student at the Institute of Urban Design at the ETH Zürich, chair of Brillembourg & Klumpner, where he coordinates the lecture Städtebau I/II. In addition, he manages the SNF research project «SCOPES Forschungsprojekt über Städtetransformationen in Zentral- und Osteuropa» and since May 2014 he is one of the coordinators of the post-diaster planning task force in Bosnia and Herzegovina.