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After transforming much of the capital in styles inspired by Classical Antiquity, Skopje’s best known shopping mall, GTC, appears next in line for a facelift.
Skopje's iconic GTC | Photo by: Sinisa Jakov Marusic
Skopje's best known shopping centre appears in line for a dramatic facelift after managers of the GTC mall in central Skopje this week issued a call for architectural proposals to give a new look to the 1970s building.
Alarm bells started ringing in some quarters after it was also suggested that “Classicism, Baroque and Futurism” would be the preferred styles.
In January, the government chose a new Baroque-style facade for its modern-looking HQ, ignoring the opposing views of the Association of Architects and the building's designer.
The call for a facelift for the mall has raised fears that the landmark mall, dating from the 1970s and 1980s, may soon lose its familiar appearance.
“It is not acceptable to impose new facades of any type, and let alone impose Baroque, and I will never agree to such a thing,” Georgi Konstantinov, a well known architect, said.
“GTC has a modern expression that needs to be preserved as historic heritage. It would be pure nonsense to change its style,” he added.
Despite the recent boom in shopping mall construction in Skopje, GTC, located metres from the central Macedonia square, is still the biggest and most visited mall in the city.
Unlike the others, this state-owned mall has open entrances from all sides making it an essential transit route for thousands of people traversing the central area each day.
The government-appointed manager of GTC, Ago Abazovski, says the plan is to enclose the open-air GTC entrances, “at the request of the shop owners”, and build one more storey onto the existing construction.
The authorities plan to choose a new facade by the end of the summer. If all goes smoothly, the GTC may get its new look by 2015.
Meanwhile, the government continues transforming much of the rest of the city centre as part of the ambitious “Skopje 2014” project.
More than 20 buildings, mostly inspired by the style of Classical Antiquity, are already in place or are nearly finished. The construction of a new national theatre, a history museum, a foreign ministry and a concert hall are at an advanced stage.
As part of the grand revamp, dozens of statues and fountains are being erected to adorn the surroundings. Giant, almost 30 metre-high statues of Alexander the Great and his father, Philip, are already in place.
Critics of the project object to its artistic style as well as to the project’s high estimated cost, unofficially standing at €500 million.
See related gallery: Skopje 2014: The new face of Macedonia, updated
At a time of budget cuts and financial belt-tightening, the government remains cagey about where the money for Skopje’s grand makeover is coming from.
Donors spent hundreds of thousands of euro building a new museum in Gjirokastra - but the results were questionable and it ultimately closed over an ideological dispute.