They are called the “Bandić fountains” because they are the favourite project of the longtime Mayor of Zagreb Milan Bandić. New fountains near the National and University Library were added last September, but urban planners note that there is still work to be done in order for the area to be perfect, reports Večernji List on February 15, 2017.
Not all details were defined in advance, which is best seen by the “baroque” benches placed next to the modern fountains. They were put there by the Mayor himself in January 2013, when he said that the benches, similar to the ones which can be seen at Zrinjevac Square in the city centre, were only a temporary solution and that the new ones would arrive in the spring of that year. Four springs have passed since, but it is possible that “baroque” benched will not live to see the fifth one, since they could soon be replaced by more appropriate ones. For example, by “smart benches” developed by young Croatian innovator Ivan Mrvoš.
His benches have already been placed in front of the University administration building and at the Faculty of Philosophy. Mrvoš said that he would deliver to the city authorities 17 additional benches by the end of the month, mostly for the student dormitories. However, during the last meeting with Mayor Bandić, they also discussed putting the smart benches next to the fountains. “He mentioned it as an idea that could be implemented after we install the first 17 benches”, said Mrvoš, a student of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering in Split, whose company currently has 15 employees.
His benches have already been sold to 15 countries on four continents. Last year he sold more than 130 benches, and this year he will exceed that number before the end of February, with 150 benches being delivered. In addition for sitting down, smart benches can be used to simultaneously charge several mobile phones, they are a hot spot for internet access, they have sensors for monitoring air quality, they are resistant to shock, rain, snow and other atmospheric conditions, and they glow in dark. “They can glow in red, blue or green colours, as selected by users”, said Mrvoš, adding that one bench costs about 2,000 euros. It would not be a problem to place them next to the fountains, since the water spray would not cause any damage.
Urban planner Zlatko Uzelac said that the benches would improve the whole area. “In any case, they should be designed specifically for this space. Perhaps designers could upgrade Mrvoš’s benches”, said Uzelac. His colleague Niko Gamulin agreed, adding that the design of current benches near the fountains was not appropriate.
The author of the fountain project Helena Paver Njirić said that she had sent her ideas about the design of benches to the city authorities. In her original project, she envisioned them as concrete elevations which would include a “Post-It Area”, a sort of interactive field which would function as a bulletin board for local residents and encourage people to come to the area. Perhaps the smart benches are the first step toward that goal.