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City of Split Heritage Society; [email protected]
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  • Jerko Marasović
  • Graditeljsko NaslijeđE
  • Splitska Povijesna Jezgra
  • Design


This paper is a reflection of a humble attempt to sketch the impressive career of Jerko Marasović as a brilliant scientist and arhitect, or, in his own words, an impressive builder. He was born in Split in 1923, in a family of architects, and, at an early age, developed an interest in art and architecture. He studied in Zagreb, in a town that furtherly inspired him to embrace architectural profession as his future calling. After graduation, he returned to his hometown to find yet another inspiration: Diocletian’s Palace. Gaining an insight into its rich heritage soon became the main purpose of his scientific research, which eventually made him a true connoisseur of the Palace. After graduation from the Technical Faculty Architecture Department in Zagreb, in 1952, he spent some time working at Conservation Institute of Dalmatia in Split. In search of a more challenging position, he started working at the Town Planning Institute of Dalmatia in 1954. There he founded the Architectural Heritage Department. Marasović was head of the department until 1979. The department carried out research and data analysis in order to rehabilitate the built heritage of Split, with the emphasis on Diocletian’s Palace. The first results were noted in 1957. The research revealed many unknown elements of the original appearance of the Palace: the original staircase, situated underneath the Vestibule, that connected the Peristyle with the substructure area; the staircase for the upper Vestibule area and the original lower level pavement of the Peristyle. Almost one quarter of the emperor residence substructures were excavated in the west portion of the Palace, that is, in the area from a big prismatic room to a perimetral wall. In the period 1968-1974, Marasović was in charge of the international project, under the name of the Research of Diocletian’s Palace. The project was the joint effort of the Town Planning Institute of Dalmatia and the University of Minnesota. Although Split was the very centre of his interest, he worked on the research, preservation and restoration of the architectural heritage in Dalmatia and Istria. In the course of research work, he developed a unique approach to architectural heritage, which was subsequently presented in his doctorate thesis A Contribution to the Methods of Approaching the Architectural Heritage. He gained his doctor’s degree at the Faculty of Architecture in Zagreb, in 1978. His unique approach was soon recognized by experts all around the world, which, had as a result, a large number of joint projects. This multidisciplinary approach is still widely acclaimed and applied at every stage of the architectural heritage research. Jerko Marasović actively participated in a large number of national and international conferences. He also published a certain number of papers and books, and also received many awards for his significant contribution to scientific research. Jerko Marasović was both a brilliant scientist and skilled architect who favoured modern architecture. In this light, he and his colleague Galić were awarded for modern design project of primary school in Klis. From 1982 to 1991, he was full professor at the Faculty of Architecture in Zagreb. He was one of the founders of the postgraduate study course The Built Heritage. From 1986 to 1989, he was head of the postgraduate studies and became its coordinator in 1994. In 1991, Marasović became head of the Built Heritage Institute at Faculty of Architecture in Zagreb. Finally, from 1991 to 2004 he was head of the Mediterranean Centre for the Built Heritage in Split. His research of Diocletian’s Palace revealed the majority of its hidden portions. The most important portions revealed were two central constructions of the Palace: a triclinium, situated in the original funeral zone of the Vestibule, and staircases that connected the Peristyle and the south seagate of the Palace. Amongst other discoveries, the most significant were, as follows: the emperor’s residence substructures, whose original appearance was subsequently restored; ancient baths in the west and east portions of the Palace; rooms and staircases situated by perimetral walls; the sewage; building technology and materials, etc. Marasović also devoted his scientific career to revealing phases of development of Split. In this light, he produced many project studies related to the city development: by simple three-dimensional drawings, he revealed the built heritage to the common people. This method of presenting a city development is currently applied in the research of the built heritage. Its influence is also often reflected in a large number of papers as well as in master and doctoral theses. In order to produce the aforementioned drawings, Marasović invented a perspective construction device. Apart from his admiration for building, he particularly loved the sea, ships, navigation and fishing. He himself designed and constructed a nine metre long sailing boat and sailed across the Adriatic. Those fortunate enough to know him, thought of him as a very special individual, a true homo universalis. He approached science with passion and was always eager to share his vast amount of knowledge. As he himself used to say, citing the well-known verse by Hektorović, A sve ča se čini na Božju jest slavu, Na pomoć općini, meni na zabavu. Or, in rough translation, But everything that is done, is done for God’s glory, For the sake of all, and the fun of my own.

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