Mimoza Nestorova-Tomikj

Mimoza Nestorova-Tomikj is an architect, urban developer, and planner born in Struga in 1929. Demonstrating stellar academic success as early as high school, throughout all of her student days, professional development, and professional career, Nestorova-Tomikj showcased professionalism, philosophical development, and perfectionism in everything she tackled. She participated in the design, planning, and conceptualization of many outstanding architectural milestones edifices in North Macedonia, as well as in bigger accomplishments aimed at remodeling, reconstruction, and development.

In 1977, Mimoza Nestorova-Tomikj became the recipient of the award “13th of November” for the project “Museums of Macedonia” and the award “Andreya Damjanov” for her life’s work in the field of architecture and civil engineering in 2011; also, she received the award “Opera Omnia” from Share Architects in 2019. With all of her professional but also voluntary discursive contribution to architecture, urbanism, as well as urban sociology, the philosophical movements that address the role of architecture and aesthetics – she embodies the priceless living heritage of the country, both today as well as within the context of the former SFRY.

The remarkable output of Nestorova-Tomikj is mostly in the domain of public state-owned buildings, public or semi-public institutions, places that are not only physical locations, but also spaces where the whole life of people outside of homes as well as outside of their neighborhoods takes place. Museums, shopping malls, state institutions, larger urban complexes, even the Master Plan of Kenzo Tange are the fields to which Nestorova-Tomikj with her professional engagement made contributions. Some of her works are as follows: the housing complex on “Albert Einstein” street; the project for the reconstruction of Suli-an; the complex of the craftsmen’s shops at the Bazaar; the project for the revitalization of the complex Chifte-amam (not realized); “Menada” restaurant; the project for the architecture and interior design of the department store “Skopjanka” (“Beko”) in Skopje; the Museums of Macedonia (together with architect K. Muratovski); the interior design of the ethnology and archaeology departments  at the Museums of Macedonia; the housing complex of the Yugoslav National Army in Kapishtets; the project for the reconstruction, adaptation, and acoustic intervention at the Universal Hall in Skopje.

Today she represents one of the last living architects from her generation of civil engineers who have tirelessly developed professionally and have shared their expertise and understanding as regards the needs of urban life. She promotes expanding the horizons of the architects not only through the study of philosophy, sociology, anthropology, but also through the implementation of strict and precise measurements, protocols, and involvement of institutions, such as the city Institute for Urbanism – an institution no longer in existence today, whose head she was for four years. Therefore, in the interviews she gives, she relates her favorite experiences on the mixed working teams at the Institute for Urbanism during the reconstruction of Skopje after the earthquake, in particular the social-urbanistic team that dealt with issues related to housing, traffic, connections, green surfaces, and other aspects of spatial planning that have to be systematically and scientifically analyzed.

 The value of Mimoza Nestorova-Tomikj for the Macedonian cultural heritage is polyvalent. First, she is one of the few women in the traditional conservative society in the process of transformation who worked in a male-dominated line of work (e.g. in 1971, only 10 % of the managerial positions in architecture and civil engineering were occupied by women) who succeeded not only to secure a better position in the bigger picture but also to contribute with what was needed, to share, to reward, and impose value. This was the reason she was invited to personally attend the exhibition “Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia 1948-1980” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2018, in which a prominent place among the materials from North Macedonia took up the planning documentation and the models from the museums in Macedonia. Further, priceless is her inexhaustible stamina to talk, ask questions, critique if needs be, especially in critical situations throughout history, such as the enforced building of the project “Skopje 2014”. This characteristic of professional and philosophical rebellion is exceptionally rare, but also ungrateful at the time when design engineers charge “1 euro for 1 hectare” while architects see space only as a commodity that can generate profit and extra value.

Finally, despite being one of the most successful, she is also one of the most disenfranchised architects in the history of North Macedonia, together with Konstantinovski, Mulichkovski, Brezoski, Popovski and others whose works not only were not protected but were also transformed or destroyed through the works on the project “Skopje 2014”. To make the injustice even bigger, her most remarkable buildings were destroyed in the period when, without a doubt, the destruction of the cultural heritage should have been stopped. Thus today we no longer have the original building “Menada” and the department store “Skopjanka” (Beko), since they became the victims of political corruption and weakness in the face of the swoop attack and commodification of the private capital. In addition, the situation the museums of Macedonia have been in in the last decades is precarious (“Skopje 2014” finished it off). Also, we witness a completely unconscientious bidding with ideas about ludicrous reconstructions of the Bazaar while it is rapidly falling into disrepair, and the city Institute for Urbanism not only does not exist as an institution, but its entire documentation and the archive were destroyed in the fire in which the barracks where they were kept burnt down – and all of that witnessed by the sane reason and in plain sight of Nestorova-Tomikj.

Fortunately, to this day, she finds the time to be publicly present by voicing her stances and opinions resulting from her four-decades long experience and work on the reconstruction of the general Urbanistic Plan of Skopje, the time when not only a visionary and interdisciplinary approach was needed but also both a practical understanding of societies and how urbanism and architecture arrange them. In the 21st century, there are as good as no urbanistic/architectural departments at higher educational institutions that do not include an interdisciplinary study of these fields in combination with cultural urbanism, sociology of urbanism, sociology in general, philosophy, organizational sciences, ecology, and other. 

These are the focal values of the life and work of this feminist icon, Mimoza Nestorova-Milikj, the architect who by the mid 60’s, for ethical reasons, changed the work place she shared at the time with her spouse.

Museums of Macedonia. Photograph by B. Bajkovski. Source: Blesok.mk -blesok.mk/mk/галерија/интервју-со-мимоза-несторова-томиќ-ар/3/

Museum of Macedonia, Old Skopje Bazaar

The complex on the north side of the Bazaar, easiest accessible on foot. Also, it is accessible by bike, but the access to it by public transportation is not very practical. The museum can be reached by car, from the upper entrance through the parking lot of the institution. From the side of the city, it can only be accessed on foot, hence is not accessible for people with a physical disability.