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Main objective of the assignment

As specified in the Inception report (see 1.1) and in the Phase A report (see 1.1), here next it is confirmed the main purpose of this assignment: the aim is to rebuild the bridge as it was before war (see 5.4.1 p.49 of ToR: "This section refers to the part of the reconstruction or remedial works that will be carried out, and the result of which should be a structure identical to the one prior to destruction"). Many other completely different design approaches would have been possible in that site, (e.g.: contemporary architecture bridge inserted next to ancient surroundings and ruins), but decision about this matter was already defined and General Engineering was not required and not supposed to make any proposal. The mentioned design choice, of an identical structure, will be therefore assumed as the Client request and as Mostar citizen's wish for the future of the Old Bridge with no further analysis and comments.


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A view of Mostar Old Bridge in a picture pubblished in National Geographic


Design objectives and theoretical approach

Main design objective is to follow and respect the request of the assignment that has been exposed in previous paragraph, which has been always taken as reference direction during the performing of the works, (providing required elaboration). At the same time, coherently with the adopted approach, some additional indications, concerning the philosophical contents of the design, have been developed in order to gain a more mature awareness of the aims and finalities of this delicate and peculiar rehabilitation intervention.

All the theoretical considerations that have been developed have been exposed in the different stages reports, (Inception Report and Phase A report), and given for approval to UNESCO and to the ICE commissions (4th and 5th commissions).

In this type of intervention, and in this historical moment, it is extremely important to define a correct and clear theoretical approach to the design objectives, without which the whole design would be fragile and would have to face frequent incoherences that would invalidate also an operation perfectly correct on the technical side.


Design objectives description

This Pilot Project has been named, in agreement with PCU TA, as "Rehabilitation of the Old Bridge of Mostar" since it is partially composed by different practical approaches: conservation and preservation, remedial and repair interventions, dismantling and remounting operations and reconstruction works. All the above should be aimed at the final rehabilitation and restoring of the Monumental Complex of the Stari Most (Old Bridge) of Mostar.


Main design assumptions:

  • The Bridge of Mostar has been totally destroyed and doesn’t exist anymore as a whole structure, its ruins are the only left portions that should be considered the real and the only original Old Bridge of Mostar.
  • The recovered stones are, at the moment, the only valuable elements of a great ancient monument, they have historical value, and they represent an interesting example of the ancient technique of assembling voussoirs and a constructive method which should be studied and investigated.
  • Some bridge stones and arch voussoirs have been recovered from the river and stored on a platform. Recovered stones, which are apparently not broken and which original position has been determined, are 9% of the global amount.
  • Some bridge stones and arch voussoirs are still built-in next to the former bridge springers. Those built-in stones, which are apparently not broken, are 13% of the global amount.
  • Abutment walls are, by now, damaged either by structural fractures, either by heavy and light shootings, and by small surface degradations due to time.
  • Something, with the war, has been definitely lost and may be not recovered or restored.


Main design interventions:

  • Recovered bridge stones and arch voussoirs, being what is left of the Old Bridge of Mostar should not reused, but should be preserved exactly as they are and kept in good condition to ensure their long lasting. This due either to restoration, either to structural requirements (since the reuse would have caused a new stone cut and a disassembling of the voussoirs).
  • Recovered bridge stones and arch voussoirs may be settled in a purpose built museum and they may be organised for exhibition purposes. The original Old Bridge would be therefore represented by those ruined portions, and this intervention would totally match the International Principles of Restoration: it guarantees complete safeguarding and preservation of the ruins and moreover it would be reversible and absolutely not invasive.
  • Recovered huge blocks of assembled voussoirs, that could not be settled on the platform due to their weight, should be moved in a museum as well as all the other recovered stones, to avoid their quick deterioration due to the river waters. (This despite ICE wanted these blocks to be left as a monument by the shore).
  • On the spot where the bridge was, following the willing of the citizen of Mostar and for social, political and symbolical reasons a "new old bridge" may be rebuilt as a declared copy of the previous one. This copy should be built not approximately or just close to the original one, since the value and the meaning of the new structure should be in the "philological" and historical research of the ancient monument as if this were an integration or a preliminary introduction to the visit of the real Old Bridge settled in the museum.
  • Remaining built-in bridge stones and arch voussoirs, next to the springers and to the abutments, should be partially dismantled, during the remedial works, and remounted in the original locations, during the reconstruction works trough an anastilosis technique. This dismantling has been required only to match structural and safety requirements.
  • Strengthening of the abutment walls next to the bridge springers should be performed before and while dismantling operation are ongoing.
  • Declaration between former bridge elements and new intervention should be performed trough refined and light marking devices, (as defined by design specifications and drawings).
  • Ancient abutments should be repaired only for what concern structural fractures and heavy shootings: only for those damages that, due to the river floods, may lead to further degradation if not repaired.
  • In the adjacent areas, concrete blocks should be totally demolished and remedial works should be performed over the ancient flooring.
  • Repair works should be performed leaving all the signs of time and small traces of the war, avoiding any intervention that may lead to a polished and renewed masonry layout.


Rehabilitation of the Old Bridge is therefore designed as a:

  • conservation and preservation of the ancient stones recovered from the river;
  • remedial and repair of built-in stones, bridge remnants, abutment walls and flooring;
  • dismantling and remounting in the original locations of some portions of the bridge remnants;
  • reconstruction of a "new old bridge" marked and declared as a recent intervention;
  • demolishing of the concrete provisional blocks built during the war and post-war period;

It has to be strongly underlined that all the above listed items are only main design steps that represent, trough a synthetic and simplified scheme, the objectives of the rehabilitation of the Old Bridge of Mostar. Of course, either to gather a detailed explanation, either to understand which have been the technical and theoretical reasons that have led to the above decisions, it is necessary to refer to the subsequent paragraphs of this chapter, and to the whole chapter 4 of this report.


Intellectual property of this report and of the design drawings is owned by General Engineering s.r.l.

author of the text: arch. Manfredo Romeo – other contributes have been mentioned in related paragraphs

- General Engineering Workgroup -


Final Design Report

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