Sea Organ, Zadar, Croatia

Source: Ben Snooks, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.


Nikola Bašić

Type of Area


Land/water interaction


Built Environment Types

Highly built
Low green

Scale of Impact

District/ neighbourhood

Intervention Scale (Spatial)

Moderate site

The Sound of the Sea.

This project, designed by Nikola Bašić, was constructed in 2005 and is a unique feature set on the shores of the Adriatic Sea at Zadar, a resort in Croatia. The Sea Organ (morske orgulje) is a form of natural musical instrument modelled on the ancient Greek hydraulis.

The new stepped embankment constructed by master stonemasons is 70m long and the instrument consists of thirty-five organ pipes linked to a resonating chamber laid under the concrete substructure of the new sea wall, itself constructed to restore poor post-war reconstruction.

The musical pipes are located so that the sea water pushes in with the movement of the waves and then the air so displaced resonates to produces sounds of different pitch. The designer claims that it achieves a communication with nature and promotes a unity of architecture and environment.

As wave movements are unpredictable the range of sounds produced is infinitely variable. Besides the sea organ, the embankment with its steps and ramps provides places to sit, to sunbathe and to access the warm seawater, all the while hearing the sounds continually produced. It is a very evocative way of experiences blue space through different senses.

Project Types

Seafront development
Urban design

Urban/ Rural

Inner urban area

Visibility and Openness

Fully open
Part horizon

Perception and Meaning

Place identity

Health and Wellbeing

Aesthetic experience
Increased physical activities

Interaction with Water

Tactile – Fully in water

Website of the project:

Google map reference

The ratings of this project show it hhas good access apart from public transport and design quality is high although such a complex feature is expected to be expensive and complex to maintain. It is limited in terms of facilities – it is a small and specialised element so this is understandable but it is very exposed to sun and wind and due to its character has little in the way of nature associated with it. Its unique quality gives potential for health and well-being, although not a sense of being away or contact with nature, due to its location. Water connections are very good although it does not feature many water activities – not part of the design brief – and likewise it is not designed for promoting or offering physical activities.