Domesticity Within a Historical Centre: A Case for Safeguarding Diocletian’s Palace

by

Ana Šverko

Keywords

  • collective space
  • domestication of public space
  • historical architecture
  • touristification
  • urban concept of housing

This paper focuses on housing in historical architecture. It discusses the example of Diocletian’s Palace in Split, a UNESCO World Heritage Monument, and the late antique structure out of which Split, as a city, has developed. The Palace retains both its residential and public character to this day, and dominates the historical city center, both physically and culturally. I will argue that it was precisely the excellent use of public space as a collective extension of the residential that enabled the continuous use of the spaces within the confines of the Palace’s walls for residential purposes.

Although Diocletian’s Palace is a widely researched subject, there are, to date, no architectural and urban design studies dealing with the domestication of public space in this protected historical monument. This paper takes up this missing perspective by offering an overview of how housing-related notions of Diocletian’s Palace emerged in relation to changing contexts.

Using Diocletian’s Palace as an almost ideal example, it offers an approach to contemporary living in which the public sphere compensates for the restrictions that the historic monument brings with it. At the same time, it serves as an example for developing collective spaces that are extensions of the residential space in other residential complexes, whether they have protected monument status or not, as well as offering a model for their adaptation to new living conditions that rejects the method of demolishing existing structures.