During World War II, Allied bombing almost entirely destroyed Zadar, Croatia, 3,000-year-old city on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. Redevelopment introduced a long, concrete shoreline—unpopulated and uninviting, until 2005, when Croatian architect Nikola Bašić installed Sea Organ.
The installation includes marble steps that descend into the sea, and narrow channels, carved into the steps, which connect to 35 concealed organ pipes. When waves hit the steps, air pushes through the whistle-holes, tuned to play seven chords of five tones.
The Sea Organ, known as “Morske Orgulje” in Croatian, opened to the public on April 15, 2005. It soon became a popular spot for locals and attracts many tourists. In 2006, the Sea Organ jointly won the European Prize for Urban Public Space.
“Avoiding the abruptness of the common jetty, understood as a rectilinear platform elevated above the water level, the Zadar steps allow the dissolution of the border between land and water and preserve a dilated transit space between the two.” commented Public Space, the prize’s administrators. “In that way the jetty is no longer an unexpected barrier that protects but distances man from the sea; it summons, like a beach, the coming and going of the waves.”
Following the Sea Organ, Bašić installed Greeting to the Sun (Pozdrav suncu) on the Zadar Peninsula promenade. At night, the 77 foot diameter circle of solar panels gives a light show of random colors and patterns.
Watch the video below to hear sounds from Bašić’s Sea Organ.