Every year the Fondazione Benetton Studi Ricerche awards the International Carlo Scarpa Prize for Gardens – to attract attention to a site which is particularly rich in natural, historical and creative values. This year the jury has decided to dedicate the twenty-fifth annual award to Osmače and Brežani, two villages in Podrinje, a region of eastern Bosnia, near the border with Serbia.
Osmače and Brežani together comprise one of the many places in Bosnia where, two decades ago, the life was torn from a community, its long-established tradition of living together in a multi-cultural environment was destroyed and those who survived were dispersed. In 1991, before the war, Osmače had 942 inhabitants and Brežani 273. What makes these villages a witness to a supremely significant experience is the presence of a small group of young families, farmers and stockbreeders, who began to return in 2002 and have been trying to find the road back to the texture of life. They began to construct new relationships between people, rebuild the houses and took care of the land.
Today, the place is an archipelago of hamlets, settlement cells a few hundred metres from each other scattered over an area of around 20 square kilometres at an altitude of be-tween 900 and 1,000 metres, a patchwork of meadows and woods scored by streams and rivers.
The International Carlo Scarpa Prize for Gardens aims to achieve a more intimate understanding, and ensure a wider awareness of the profound reasons that bind individuals, families or small community groupings to a place. These villages raise the urgent question of how best to construct a multi-cultural space, proceeding not from the distribution of places to the different elements but from a vision in which different people together inhabit a place. The jury has decided to entrust the Carlo Scarpa to two of the leading figures in this process, representatives and witnesses of their communities, their cultures and their villages: Muhamed Avdić and Velibor Rankić.
Images: Zijah Gafić for Fondazione Benetton Studi Ricerche