UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Socialist urban development in the city of Rijeka, Yugoslavia, during the 1960s Lecki, Dorjan


The city of Rijeka is situated on the point where the Mediterranean Sea penetrates deeply into the European continent. Between 1945 and 1991 the city was governed by the Yugoslav socialist state. As an important industrial center with a wide array of manufacturing economic branches and the largest port in the entire Yugoslav federation, Rijeka witnessed a significant immigration from other parts of the country. During the 1960s and the 1970s the Yugoslav federal government enacted a series of laws that decentralized the state. One of the most notable ones was the Law on Workers’ Self-Management which established workers’ collectives in all major enterprises. The decision-making process was lowered to the local level, and this shift had a significant impact on the urban development process in Rijeka. The urban expansion was a joint effort of four parties – the workers’ collectives, the Council for Urban Planning, the Urbanist Institute, and the large construction companies. These four parties were responsible for Rijeka’s urban development and the creation of Rijeka as a functional Yugoslav socialist city. The interrelation between the major actors in Rijeka’s urban expansion was an important element in the narrative as it produced the urban fabric that is distinctly Yugoslav socialist. The historical heritage, challenging topography, massive immigration, and the multitude of parties involved in the urban development process were some of the notable factors in Rijeka’s urban expansion during the communist rule. However, topography and the official discourse were the most significant challenges to achieve optimal urban development. Therefore, I argue that the urban development process in Rijeka during the Yugoslav socialist period was a result of the interrelation between the Yugoslav communist ideology and the challenging terrain configuration.

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