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Socialist Yugoslavia was a country suspended between traditional cultures, competing concepts of

modernization, and rivaling Cold War blocs. It produced a diverse body of architecture that defies easy
classification and blurs the lines between the established categories of modernism. This book explores
the historical in-betweenness of Yugoslav architecture by analyzing its key architectural and urban
achievements in relation to their social, political, and cultural contexts.

Yugoslavia is certainly the most miraculous of the

defunct countries of the recent past: although it
started to disintegrate more than twenty years ago, its
past appears more modern than the present of many
of its successor states, not only in an aesthetic but also
in a more general, intellectual sense. Or is it a mere
Fata Morgana of our senses, based on a selective perception? This book gives an answer that is supported
by a careful analysis of a vast material, and not by
an elegiac meditation on tempi passati. It shows a
remarkable will of the architects to associate themselves with the program of modernism, but floating
in an in-between, mediatory condition rather than
fully embracing its ideology. This relationship to modernism meant broader horizons and the rejection of
any concessions to the spirit of the provincewhile at
the same time not shying away from its mythologies.
Even if we accept that the past is not available to us in
its immediacy, the texts and images in this book can
conjure the power of the vision of a modern culture
that was not monolithic, but open, generous, challenging, and inspiring; it had all the qualities that provincialism lacks, rejects, and wants to erase.

kos Moravnszky
Professor of Architectural Theory, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology,
Author of Competing Visions: Aesthetic Vision and Social Imagination in
Central European Architecture

Lucid and compelling, written in a fluent style, this

meticulously researched book, with its full array of
beautiful photographs, is a landmark study of a place
and time that produced stirring and original architecture. It is a convincing and insightful portrait of the era
and a major contribution to our understanding of the
broader history of modernism. In the end, the Yugoslav state was a failed political experiment, but in
cultural termsand especially in architectural
termsthe attempt to make something in-between,
to find a new intermediate aesthetic, led to great
innovation and discovery. What one sees in these
pages is revelatory, a still mostly unknown building
scene of striking power and freshness.
Christopher Long
Professor of Architectural History, University of Texas at Austin,
Author of The Looshaus


This book would not have been possible without the support from the ERSTE
Foundation and the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, Arts, and Culture.
To them we owe thanks for their generosity and patience.
This book also would not have been possible without its subject: the many
architects who practiced throughout former Yugoslavia. Over the years, many of
them shared their knowledge and memories with us; sadly, some of them are not
with us any more. Our gratitude and admiration go to: Ivan Crnkovi, Georgi
Konstantinovski, Dragomir Manojlovi, Boris Maga, Milenija and Darko Marui,
Mihajlo Mitrovi, Vladimir Braco Mui, Aleksandar Stjepanovi, Ivan traus, and
Zlatko Ugljen. Let this book keep the memory of the late Bogdan Bogdanovi and
Boris ipan, as well as all other talented architects whom we did not know in
person, but who made the region so interesting to study.
A great number of people helped us with this book. Kai Vckler brought the three of
us together for the irst time for the exhibition Balkanology; he was also Wolfgangs
travel companion on one of his irst photographic expeditions through the region.
Producing the photos would not have been possible without those who opened the
many doors of the buildings to be photographed. Particularly helpful were Divna
Peni in Skopje, Visar Geci in Prishtina, and the osi family in Ljubljana.
While working on this book, we also collaborated with more than thirty colleagues from all over the region on a research project titled Unfinished ModernisationsBetween Utopia and Pragmatism: Architecture and Urban Planning in
Former Yugoslavia and Successor States. The project slowed us down in finishing
this book, but in return we gained so much more, as we all learned a great deal
from each other. Some of the acquired knowledge informs this book. A big thank
you to our UM crowd! Special thanks to Antun Sevek, Matev elik, Alenka di
Battista, Jelena Grbi, Martina Malei, Divna Peni, Dubravka Sekuli, Ela
Turkui, and Nina Ugljen for helping us with the archival material. And last but
not least, Jelica Jovanovi has always been a most reliable collaborator and we
owe her thanks for her tireless help.


Various individuals and institutions also kindly shared their archives with us.
There are too many to name individually, but to all of them we owe gratitude.
Special thanks to the colleagues who read the various parts of the text and
shared their insights and comments with us: Tanja Damljanovi Conley, David
Raizman, and Danilo Udoviki, as well as Katharine Wheeler and other South
Floridians from the History/Theory Faculty Workshop at the University of Miami.
kos Moravnszky and Dietmar Steiner provided help and intellectual support.
Finally, Christopher Long toiled through the early versions of most of the chapters and nevertheless remained kind and supportive, for which we are especially grateful.
Michael Jung generously put up with our constant demands and changes while
designing this book. Philipp Sperrle at Jovis Verlag has been a patient and eficient
Vladimir thanks Professor Deirdre Hardy, Director of the School of Architecture,
and Dr Rosalyn Carter, Dean of the College for Design and Social Inquiry at
Florida Atlantic University, for allowing him to reshuffle his teaching schedule in
the Spring and Summer of 2012 to make room for writing. Maroje thanks everyone
at the Faculty of Architecture in Zagreb for academic collaboration and support.
Special thanks to Professor Andrej Uchytil for stimulating discussions and access
to the archives of the Atlas of Croatian Architecture, as well as to the editorial
board and staff of Oris magazine for their kind assistance in image research.
During the hectic final days of work on the book, Maroje and his life partner
Maja welcomed their twins, Ivan and Eva; Maja, thank you for your patience and
Everyone mentioned, and those we forgot to mention: we owe you gratitude.
Some credit for this book is yours; the errors are our own.
Vladimir Kuli, Maroje Mrdulja, and Wolfgang Thaler
Fort Lauderdale, Zagreb, Vienna, July 2012.

Preface Reassembling Yugoslav Architecture



A History of Betweenness
Between Worlds
Between Identities
Between Continuity and Tabula Rasa
Between Individual and Collective
Between Past and Future


Selected Bibliography
Image Credits



Did Yugoslavia ever exist? Jorge Luis Borges suggests in his stories that reality is
shaped by percepts and ideas, not the other way around. The Despotate of Epirus, the
Principality of the Morea, the Kingdom of Montenegro, Tln and Uqbarwhich of them
existed at some point of history, which of them is fiction, a conspiracy of intellectuals
to create a consistent world? We certainly think that the German Democratic Republic,
Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia were not only real but are still very close to ushowever, since we know that objects that we observe in the rear-view mirror are closer than
they appear, the apparent closeness is probably a result of the correctional reflex of our
historical consciousness. Yugoslavia is certainly the most miraculous of the defunct
countries of the recent past: although it started to disintegrate more than twenty years
ago, its past appears more modern than the present of many of its successor states, not
only in an aesthetic but also in a more general, intellectual sense. Or is it a mere Fata
Morgana of our senses, based on a selective perception? This book by Vladimir Kuli,
Maroje Mrdulja, and Wolfgang Thaler gives an answer that is supported by a careful
analysis of a vast material, and not by an elegiac meditation on tempi passati.
In my rear-view mirror, Yugoslavia certainly appears very close. As an architectural
student of the Budapest Technical University during the early nineteen-seventies, research
in architectural history proved to be a good escape from the tired functionalist doctrine in
the design classes. I found myself embarking on a research project on medieval monastic
architecture on the Balkans. It was my dream to visit Mount Athos, Hosios Loukas and
the other famous orthodox monasteries, but Greece as a Western country was of-limits for
Hungarian touristsunlike Yugoslavia. So I decided to go there, heading to Ohrid in the
south after a short visit at the Archaeological Institute in Belgrade, visiting as many of the
medieval churches and monasteries on my way as I could. What interested me was how
church typologies relected the changing political ties of the local rulers, mixing Byzantine,
Romanesque, and Gothic forms. At that time, no KFOR was necessary to protect the
sites; it was possible to spend the night in a small tent right at the marble faade of the
monastery of Visoki Deani, surrounded by high mountain peaks. As a hitch-hiker I met
not only lorry drivers, but also backpackers from the United States and Western Europe,
and we were all thrilled by the kaleidoscopic change of landscapes and languages, by
the rich tapestry of cultures and tastes that Otto Bihalji-Merinan important protagonist
of regionalism avant la lettredescribed in his popular books.
I kept returning to Yugoslavia every summer, extending my itinerary continuously
toward the West, and these journeys were accompanied by all sorts of music: starogradske pesme, gusle rhapsodies, and the strange harmonies and uneven rhythms heard on
the buses on breathtaking hairpin highways. No other country I knew was as heavy in
mythology. Talking in a generic Slavic to the drivers, I became increasingly familiar

with a space that was small and enclosed, unlike the highway we were moving on. The
nation-building process that started with a language renewal in the nineteenth century
still seemed to determine the patriarchal culture of these enclosures. This was a general phenomenon, but the particular topography and history of Yugoslavia resulted in an
extremely tight-knit structure, with mountain chains and rivers protecting tiny but treasured local cultures, where even the smallest traces of foreignness would endanger the
purity of the organic traditions. This was the enclosed world of the province, where
according to the Serbian philosopher Radomir Konstantinovian agonizing tribal culture attempts to forget time and history.
But the freeway was a reality as well, connecting worlds behind mountains, opening
space. The modern cities or the large tourist complexes on the Adriatic coast created
a large periphery as a field open for experiments, less ideological than the centers
from which the ideas were taken, and then questioned, tested, and modified. Therefore,
the modernism of Yugoslavia appeared as not only a modernism in-between, but in an
inseparable symbiotic relationship with its Other, allowing the freedom of the periphery
in conjunction with the parochial spirit of the province. A spatial assemblage of sorts,
echoing the dilemma of the medieval builders of Deani or Graanica: Byzantine and
Western, the necessity of a permanent reinvention of the country and the necessary
adjustments of newly received ideas and ideologies. The questions raised by my travels
in Yugoslavia during the summers of the early nineteen-seventies led to more systematic investigations of the architecture of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and its successor
states, as an attempt to overcome the limitations of nation-centered historiographies.
The discussion of in-betweenness and mediatory architecture in Kuli and
Mrduljas text refutes the widely accepted notion of the Iron Curtain and the consequent
East/West dichotomizations of cultural phenomena according to this dispositive. The
authors explore new concepts to understand the changing urban conditions and architectural production in socialist Yugoslavia, and Wolfgang Thalers photographs present
the persuasive power of this architecture, resisting any temptation to capture the melancholy of a bygone era.
Yugoslavia was a state emerging out of the ruins of the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires, which had already broken up once at the beginning of World War II. Most
political models and social visionsfrom liberal bourgeois capitalism to nationalism,
communism, Stalinism, self-governing socialism, and transitional post-socialismswept
through a country that was in the process of permanent reinvention of itself. Despite constant transformations, Vladimir Kuli and Maroje Mrdulja show a remarkable will of the
architects to associate themselves with the program of modernism, but floating in an
in-between, mediatory condition rather than fully embracing its ideology. This relationship to modernism meant broader horizons and the rejection of any concessions to the
spirit of the provincewhile at the same time not shying away from its mythologies. Juraj
Neidharts or Bogdan Bogdanovis search in this direction, their interest in the archaic,
surreal and monumental, are cases in point.
By reassembling the architecture of socialist Yugoslavia, the authors escape the
constraints of an architectural history that is withdrawing behind safe borders. This
withdrawal generally favors a postmodern historiography, suspicious of any kind of
monolithic representation of the past. What usually remains in such presentations are
objets trouvs from a defunct land, decontextualized fragments of an irredeemable
past that is a burden on the present rather than a legacy. But even if we accept that
the past is not available to us in its immediacy, the texts and images in this book can
conjure the power of the vision of a modern culture that was not monolithic, but open,
generous, challenging, and inspiring; it had all the qualities that provincialism lacks,
rejects, and wants to erase.
kos Moravnszky

Boris Maga:
Poljud Stadium,
Split, 197679.


Milorad Pantovi (architecture) and

Branko eelj (engineering):
Hall 1, Belgrade Fair,
Belgrade, 1957.





Describing a region as in-between is a clich. The label has been applied to places
as varied as Austria, Turkey, Russia, Panama, various parts of the US, the Balkans, and
all of Eastern Europe. Common toponyms are derived in such terms: from Mitteleuropa
and Zwischeneuropa to the Middle East. Being in-between, in short, is a global state.
Why, then, do we stick with a clich in framing the topic of this book? We argue that the
in-betweenness of socialist Yugoslavia was exceptional: the country condensed so many
overlapping geopolitical and cultural inbetween conditions that they became one of its
defining features. Socialist Yugoslavia can hardly be described without mentioning at
least some of the shifting reference points between which it was suspended: the superpowers of the Cold War, rival ideological systems, multiple ethnic identities of its own
populations, varied versions of modernity and tradition, past and future. Such conditions
necessarily affected architecture; and since existing in-between by definition requires
simultaneously referencing multiple external standpoints, it is no wonder that Yugoslav
architecture never developed an easily recognizable identity. Despite the occasional
remarkable achievements, it could not be easily labeled and marketed, as was the case
with the more successful other modernisms, such as those of Finland and Brazil. And
even if all such identities are inevitably fabrications that edit a messy reality for easier
consumption, the fact remains that no one even attempted to fabricate one for socialist
So why even bother paying attention to a defunct country? The irst reason has to do with
the possibility that socialist Yugoslavia might teach us something useful for our current
cultural moment. While peripheral to the worlds cultural and political centers, it loated
between them, rather than clearly gravitating to any. The fragmented body of architecture that came out of that condition resulted from the need to mediate between a wide
variety of contradictory demands and inluences, pitching multifarious global forces and
the diverse interconnected localities against each other. Such mediation should resonate
with our times of liquid modernity, as Zygmunt Bauman has termed it, characteristic for
its radical cultural pluralism and the related, increasingly ubiquitous and self-conscious
practices of hybridization, recycling, sampling, and blending.1 All of these practices function as mechanisms of mediation, understood as processes of reconciling diferent or conlicting forces, assumptions, concepts, or models. But mediation does not necessarily result
in cultural syncretism; it assumes a much broader range of strategies, covering the full
spectrum between outright resistance and wholesale appropriation, such as adaptation,
reinterpretation, recombination, subversion, etc. In socialist Yugoslavia, such mediatory
strategies were simultaneously employed both within the ields of politics and architectureeach with its own multiple ideologies and geopolitical constellationsas well as in
the complex relationships between the two. It is these interconnected parallel mediations


Bauman (2011).

Nancy Condee, From Emigration

to E-migration: Contemporaneity
and the Former Second World,
in Smith, Ewenzor, and Condee
(2008), pp. 23536.
IRWIN (2006), Piotrowski (2009).
On Bosnia and Herzegovina,
see traus (1998). On Serbia, see
Perovi (2003). On Slovenia,
see Bernik (2004).

that we hope to sketch out here, also looking for those instances when architects were able
to transcend their loating periphery and become their own centers.
The second reason for this book comes from the fact that the architecture of the socialist Second Worldthe distinct, if ultimately truncated limb of modernitys tree, as
Nancy Condee has cogently described it 2 is perhaps too slowly becoming recognized
as part of the global modernist heritage. Yugoslavia was an important branch of that
truncated limb; yet the extent to which its architecture was typical or exceptional is still
to be determined, since the socialist world is far from being charted in that respect. Artists and art historians have been very active in producing such charts in their own field;
in architecture, however, there are still no equivalents to books like IRWINs East Art
Map and Piotr Piotrowskis In the Shadow of Yalta: Art and the Avant-garde in Eastern Europe, 19451989. 3 Instead, photographers are taking the lead, with all the inherent strengths and dangers of such an approach. A recent wave of photographic monographs presents the buildings of the socialist East as if they were relics of some long-lost
civilization: sad, dilapidated concrete mastodons, anonymous in their spectacular oddity,
defying interpretation and lacking any meaning relevant for the present moment. These
publications certainly have some merit, since they dispense with one entrenched stereotype that identified Eastern Europe with monumental figural socialist realism; but they
fall into another trap by suggesting a certain uniformity of architecture across the region
and across the period, offering far too simplistic interpretations. The socialist world and
its concomitant architectural phenomena were in no way monolithic, either transnationally or within individual countries, not even within the same genre of architecture. Not
all buildings from the socialist period are dilapidated; not all of them are enormous brutalist structures; and most are surely not stripped of meaning. Alleging a certain formal
or visual essence of socialist modernism makes just as much sense as trying to identify
inherent aesthetic features of a capitalist modernism, a label that no one but the most
hardened socialist realist critic would take seriously, because it too broadly equates cultural and political categories.
This book is, therefore, an attempt to contribute a piece to the puzzle charting postwar
architecture in Eastern Europe. In part, it is itself a photographic monograph: photos possess the kind of persuasive power that words do not, which is important when introducing a generally unknown body of architecture. Wolfgang Thaler spent three years touring former Yugoslavia and recording the buildings produced during the socialist period.
What emerges from his photos is not only a great variety of building types, technologies,
and aesthetic approaches, but also the greatly varied destinies that the regions structures and cities experienced since the collapse of the socialist federation. Many buildings
are indeed dilapidated, some damaged beyond repair, and some even resurrected from
scratch after total demolition during the wars of the nineteen-nineties. Most, however, still
constitute functioning built environments, architecturally superior to the current commercial vernacular, not to mention the sea of unregulated construction or the attempts at retraditionalization that have swamped large parts of the region during the transition to
capitalism. On the other hand, the recent stand-out achievements, some of which have
attracted international attentionespecially those from Slovenia and Croatiahave not
emerged out of thin air, but instead continue the well-established modernist traditions
that were decisively solidified during the socialist period.
Complementing the photos, the essays in this book aim at providing a broad framework
for understanding the built environments throughout the region. Treating the former
country as a whole may fly in the face of the common assumption that socialist Yugoslavias constituent republics developed distinct, self-contained architectural cultures
that did not share very much. Indeed, several twentieth-century architectural histories of
the individual successor states have already appeared in English since the collapse of
the federation in 1991. 4 They are all valuable sources, but their particularistic perspectives preclude them from addressing some important phenomena that were common to



Architectures Melting Pot

Of all the Nazi-occupied countries, Yugoslavia is most in the news and least known as
a place. When American troops land there many will wonder that geography books ever
classed it as a European country. Veiled women, bearded priests, towering minarets contribute eastern lavor. But that isnt all. In crumbling old towns held to the hillside by fortress-like retaining walls are some of the most modern schools and ofice buildings in
Europe. No record could express more vividly Yugoslavias contradictory political, social
and cultural currents than does its building pattern.
Architectural Forum, November 1944

European or eastern? Modern or stuck in the past? Such questions were long associated with the region that once comprised Yugoslavia, often falling in the category that
Maria Todorova famously termed balkanism.1 Architectural Forums romantic image
restated such stereotypes, although it was not entirely incorrect in suggesting that large
parts of the country had only recently embarked on the road to modernization. But on one
account the magazine was dead wrong: American troops would never land in Yugoslavia.
Instead, the country was liberated through joint eforts of local Communist-led partisans
and the Red Army, a fact that would determine its fate for the decades to come. Thus, Yugoslavias road out of underdevelopment led not through the US-sponsored Marshall Plan,
but through a unique model of socialist modernization, following a winding path of shifting
international alliances and perpetual revisions of the political and economic system. As
the Cold War settled in, Yugoslavia came to occupy a place halfway between the two ideological blocs, at the same time developing its own brand of socialism based on workers
self-management. In the process, all parts of the country, regardless of their varied levels
of development, experienced the most intense period of industrialization and urbanization
in their respective histories. The resulting cities and buildings still comprise the bulk of the
regions built environments even twenty years after the federations demise.
Socialist Yugoslavia was one of the most complicated countries in the world, as two
American scholars once observed. 2 It was popular to describe it (not entirely precisely) as
one country with two alphabets, three languages, four religions, ive nationalities, six constituent republics, and seven neighbors.3 It emerged from World War II as the staunchest
Soviet ally, only to stun the world by its sudden expulsion from the communist bloc just three
years later. It then briely allied with the West, before becoming one of the founding members of the Non-Aligned Movement. It was governed by a single party, but strove towards
radical democratization. Its economy was planned, but included signiicant elements of the
market. It promoted collective welfare, but also had a well-developed consumer culture. It
developed distinct national cultures, yet was bound by a common state. It strove towards a
bright future, but its utopian horizon always included perspectives to the past.
In order to make any sense of such complexity, it is indispensable to start with distant
history. Before the world was split by the Cold War, there were several other pairs of the
East-West divide that deined the region, dating back to the division of the Roman Empire
at the turn of the fourth century. The two emperors who instituted that division, Diocletian
and Constantine the Great, were both born on the territory that would later become Yugoslavia. Both were also responsible for extensive architectural programs, as was another
native son of the region, Emperor Justinian, the patron of the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople. Architectural remnants of the Roman times constitute the irst important cultural
layer ubiquitous throughout the region, Diocletians Palace in Split being its most famous
example. After the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, Slavic tribes settled in the
region around the seventh century. They were converted to Christianity in the ninth century, but were soon split by the Great Schism of 1054 between the Eastern Orthodox and
Roman Catholic Church. The border again went right across the region, causing its own
architectural ramiications. The area in the southeast came into the sphere of the Byzan-

1 2


Todorova (1997).
Hofman and Neal (1962), p. ix.
After 1968, Bosnian Muslimstoday
known as Bosniakswere
recognized as the sixth nationality.

The walled historical core of

Dubrovnik. Fortiications dating
mainly from 12th17th centuries.
Mimar Hayruddin: Old Bridge,
Mostar, 155766. Demolished in
1993, rebuilt in 2004.

tine tradition, while the northwest embarked on the standard Western stylistic sequence of
Romanesque-Gothic-Renaissance-Baroque. The division, however, was not clear-cut and
was blurred by hybrids like some Serbian Orthodox monasteries, which combined the
Byzantine domed typology with Romanesque and Gothic decoration. The situation was
further complicated in the late Middle Ages by the rise of inluential heresies, such as the
independent Bosnian Church and the dualist Bogomilism. Persecuted by both Orthodox
and Catholic churches, these heresies would be celebrated in the twentieth century as the
harbingers of an authentic South Slavic identity and precursors to the modern resistance
against outside oppression. Their most well-known remnants are the monumental carved
tombstones called steci, tens of thousands of which are scattered throughout Bosnia and
Herzegovina, as well as Montenegro, Croatia, and Serbia.
The Ottoman conquest swept through the region in the fourteenth and ifteenth centuries,
expanding further and further north, until it swallowed everything except for a narrow strip
along the coast of the Adriatic, which was the domain of the Venetian Republic, and the corner
north of Zagreb, which was under the Habsburgs. The Ottomans introduced a third major
religious group by converting large segments of the native populations to Islam. A fourth one
appeared at the end of the ifteenth century, after the expulsion from Spain of Sephardic
Jews, who settled in urban centers, such as Sarajevo and Belgrade. The border between Habsburg and Ottoman Empires more or less stabilized after the failed Turkish Siege of Vienna of
1683, dividing the region into three large spheres, which could be crudely described as
Central European, Balkan, and Mediterranean. Centered in Vienna, Austria ruled north of
the Sava and the Danube, replacing the physical traces of Turkish rule with new, regulated
settlements and Baroque architecture. Centered in Istanbul, Turkey held power in the southeast with its characteristic organic cities and domed monumental buildings. Finally, Venices
continued domination of the coast channeled the inluence of Italian architecture. In a way,
the whole region functioned at this time as a collection of frontier zones, setting up segments
of native populations as bufers against the neighboring rival empires. But the borders did
not coincide with the distribution of ethnic or religious groups, which was further complicated
by numerous migrations within the region, as well as from without.
What is striking about the resultant built environments is that they brought large architectural traditions into proximity that is rarely found elsewhere. Eighty kilometers divide



tural profession as it struggled to envision the new institutions of the socialist state. Prior
to 1948, the short-lived political attempts to impose socialist realism caused friction with
the already entrenched modernism; after the break with Stalin, the resultant flourishing
of modernist culture became a signifier of cultural freedom and, consequently, of Yugoslavias break with Russia and its distinction from other socialist states. Such polarizing interpretations, however, eventually died out as modernismmore or less openly
again became widely acceptable in the Eastern bloc in the nineteen-sixties. By that time,
however, the ambitions of Yugoslav foreign policy went far beyond simply maintaining
national independence; instead, Tito was shaping the country into a global actor whose
prominence greatly exceeded its size. 2 As a symbolic display of such position, Yugoslavia hosted a series of high-profile international eventsincluding the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevoall of which required the construction of extensive new facilities,
allowing architecture to further exercise its representational potential.

East? West? Or Both?

Hoffman and Neal, Yugoslavia and the New Communism, 1962.1

Scholars often use architectural metaphors to describe the Cold War world: walls,
curtains, fences, and blocks. If its divisions physically coalesced in the Berlin Wall, in
Yugoslavia they dissolved into an open plan, in which Europes two halves met not
only metaphorically, but also physically. Yugoslavia was a rare place where the citizens
of both Eastern and Western Europe could meet as they vacationed together on the Adriatic coast. At the same time, the country maintained equidistance from both blocs, while
building its own alliances with the Third World through the Non-Aligned Movement, in
an attempt to foster international relations based on partnership rather than neocolonial
hegemony. That position, however, was only attained after a series of violent twists and
turns in foreign policy, not unlike a pendulum swinging between the poles of the Cold
War with decreasing amplitude to finally settle down in the middle. From the Soviet
Unions closest ally in the first postwar years, to the brink of joining NATO in the midnineteen-fifties, and then to one of the leaders of the Non-Aligned Movement in the early
nineteen-sixties, Yugoslavia fluctuated between the so-called First, Second, and Third
Worlds, before finally reaching a point of balance in which it was tied to all three, while
effectively being a part of none.
Such shifts inevitably affected architecture by engaging it in an increasingly globalized network of international exchange. If the modern architectural profession originally arrived in the region from the cultural centers of Central EuropeVienna, Zurich, Prague, and Budapestwith time, reference points became increasingly distant,
including at first Paris and Berlin, and after World War II Moscow, New York, Amsterdam, Brasilia, etc. The swings in the foreign policy also made them less stable. Yugoslav
architectural journals in the late nineteen-forties focused almost exclusively on the news
from the Soviet bloc, but by the early nineteen-fifties they completely shifted attention to
Western Europe and the United States, and for some time also to the emerging centers
of modernism outside of the traditional West, such as Brazil and Finland. After Stalins
death and the subsequent thaw in the relations with the USSR in the mid-nineteen-fifties, architectural interactions with some East European countries, such as Poland, significantly strengthened as well. Soviet architecture was never again considered a model
worth emulating, but Eastern Europe became an important market for Yugoslav construction companies and their in-house designers. At the same time, the involvement
in the Non-Aligned Movement opened up an even more expansive new market in the
Third World, providing Yugoslav architects with major urban, architectural, and infrastructural commission across four continents. The profession thus found itself at the intersection of an international network facilitating the exchange of architectural expertise
between the First, Second, and Third Worlds, and thus effectively defied the seemingly
insurmountable divides of the Cold War era.
The changes in foreign policy also influenced architectures representational role as
defined by the broader framework of the cultural Cold War. Between the end of World
War II and the late nineteen-fifties, architectural style was an important signifier of political allegiance. The Soviets imposed socialist realism as the only acceptable aesthetic in
their sphere of influence; it was generally identified with classical rules of composition,
traditional ornament, and an overblown sense of monumentality, but in reality never
unambiguously defined. In direct opposition to conservative Soviet aesthetics, the West
appropriated high modernism as a signifier of liberal democracy, thus breaking architectural avant-gardes historical linkage with revolutionary politics. Yugoslavias most
extreme political fluctuations coincided precisely with the period when such aesthetic
confrontations were at their height, creating a great deal of tension within the architec-


Hofmann and Neal (1962), p. 417.

For a detailed account, see

Jakovina (2011).
Kuli (2009), pp. 2344.

In Soviet Orbit
In their infamous percentages agreement of 1944, Stalin and Churchill cynically
concurred that their interests in postwar Yugoslavia would be shared fifty-fifty. But
as the Communist Party took power, thanks to its leading role in the liberation war, it
was already clear by May 1945 that Yugoslavia would side 100 percent with the Soviet
Union. What ensued was a radical restructuring of the whole country, following the
Soviet models in almost everything, from the constitution to cultural policy. At the same
time, the wartime alliance with Western powers quickly deteriorated to open animosity and Yugoslavia found itself deeply immersed in the nascent Cold War as the Soviet
Unions most faithful satellite. Refusing to participate in the US Marshall Plan for the
reconstruction of Europe, the country instead tied its economic fortunes to the USSR, and
was selected as the seat of the Communist Information Bureau (Cominform), the Sovietdominated international organization of communist parties.
Following the Soviet example, the communist government immediately moved towards
creating a highly centralized economy and culture. By 1948, the state took virtually complete control of all means of production; private architectural offices were abolished and
the profession was reorganized into large state-owned design institutes.3 These offices
were also intended to play an important role in the wildly unrealistic Five-Year Plan, inaugurated in 1947 after the Soviet model, which was intended to fully modernize the country
in that short period. Such ambition, however, amounted to little more than wishful thinking: besides the rampant material shortages and a lack of modern technology, the largely
rural country also lacked the educated cadreincluding architectsthat would be able
to realize such a plan. The bulk of architectural production thus amounted to utilitarian
buildings of modest material standard and limited conceptual or aesthetic ambitions.
At the same time, cultural production came under total control of the Communist Partys propaganda department, Agitprop, which imposed the monopoly of socialist realism
in visual arts and literature. The doctrine favored traditional methods of realistic representation and themes that celebrated socialism, at the same time condemning modernism in its many guises as bourgeois formalism. Architecture was to follow suit with
other arts, but the imposition of the Soviet doctrine proved problematic. Although the
pages of the only architectural journal of the period, Arhitektura, were flooded with the
images of monumental Soviet structures, few of the published local projects resembled
such models. What stood out from the sea of utilitarian buildings were not the Yugoslav
versions of Moscows Stalinist skyscrapers, but self-consciously functionalist structures,
like Marjan Haberles Zagreb Fair (later converted to Technical Museum), which testified
to continuity with prewar modernism. pp. 50 51
Such discrepancy resulted from the fact that Yugoslavias new architectural elite consisted predominantly of leading prewar modernists and their young disciples. Many of



Vojislav Midi and Milan oki:

Workers University Radivoj
irpanov, Novi Sad, 1966.
2|3 Mihailo Jankovi and Duan
Milenkovi: Building of Social
and Political Organizations,
New Belgrade, 195964.
Mihailo Jankovi and Duan
Milenkovi: Project for the Building
of Social and Political
Organizations, New Belgrade,
c. 1959. Perspective.

1 2
3 4

The political connotations of this aesthetic shift became obvious in the foreign and particularly American interpretations, which saw Yugoslav modern art and architecturein
the words of Aline Louchheim, The New York Times art critic and Eero Saarinens wifeas
a tangible proof of Titos break with Russia.11 No one put it more explicitly than Harrison
Salisbury, the Pulitzer-Prize winning correspondent of the same paper. In a 1957 article
illustrated with the yet uninished building of the Federal Executive Council, he wrote:
To a visitor from eastern Europe a stroll in Belgrade is like walking out of a grim
barracks of ferro-concrete into a light and imaginative world of pastel buildings, flying
saucers, and Italianate patios.
Nowhere is Yugoslavias break with the drab monotony and tasteless gingerbread of
socialist realism more dramatic than in the graceful office buildings, apartment houses
and public structures that have replaced the rubble of World War II.
Thanks in part to the break with Moscow and in part to the taste of some skilled architects
no Stalin Alles, Gorky Streets or Warsaw skyscrapers mar the Belgrade landscape.12
By the time Salisbury wrote these words, Yugoslavia was already a willing recipient of American cultural propaganda. Jazz musicianssuch as Dizzy Gillespie, Ella
Fitzgerald, and Louis Armstrongwere received with standing ovations.13 The Family of Man, an ambitious photographic exhibition organized by the Museum of Modern

Duanka Menegelo, Soija PaligoriNenadovi, Nadeda FiliponTrbojevi, Vesna Matievi, and

Vladislav Ivkovi: Belgrade Airport,
Belgrade, 1961.
Zdravko Bregovac:
Ambasador Hotel, Opatija, 1964-66.
Mihailo Jankovi: Project for the
redesign of the Federal Executive
Council Building, 1954. Sketch.
Milivoje Peteri: Feroelektro Ofice
Building, Sarajevo, 1962.

That is how Louchheim interpreted

Yugoslav modernist art at the
Biennial of Art in Sao Paulo in 1953,
thus providing a precedent for
many similar interpretations;
Louchheim (1954).
12 Salisbury (1957).
13 Markovi (1996), p. 471.

276,000 Yugoslavs See Family of

Man Photos, The New York Times
(February 26, 1957).
15 Savremena umetnost u SAD (1956).

1 2

Art in New York, attracted its largest audience not in Paris or London, but in Belgrade
in 1957.14 Another major MoMA exhibition, Contemporary Art in the USA, arrived in
Belgrade in 1956 at a direct request of the Yugoslav side.15 The exhibition was remembered for introducing Abstract Expressionism to Europe, but it also showcased the latest architectural achievements, especially the icons of the International Style, including:
SOMs Lever House in New York, featured on the cover of the catalogue; Mies van der
Rohes Lake Shore Drive towers in Chicago; and Philip Johnsons Glass House. Soon after
the exhibition, glass curtain walls replaced the recent Corbusian epidemic. By the end
of the decade, buildings modeled on the Lever House, combining horizontal and vertical slabs encased in light curtain wallsat the time, significantly, known as American
faadesappeared in every major Yugoslav city. p. 57
After the unsuccessful competitions of the late nineteen-forties, the realized ver-



Dragoljub Filipovi and

Zoran Tasi:
Belgrade Youth Center,
Belgrade, 1961.



Ivan traus:
Holiday Inn Hotel,
Sarajevo, 1983.

Marjan Hri, Ivan Pitea,

and Berislav erbeti:
Cibona Center,
Zagreb, 198587.



I know that I cannot speak about architecture in Slovenia without starting with Plecnik,
because we have almost no question today that is not somehow related to himPlecnik
laid the foundation of recent Slovenian architecture.
Duan Grabrijan, Plecnik and his School, c. 19481
From the irst pre-Romanesque creations to Viktor Kovacic, building in Croatia
followed the logic of mason-architects thought, which intervenes in the realities of
lifespace and its laws, real economic and social structure, utilitarian and aesthetic
demandsrejecting all the stylistic canons and patterns.
It is precisely this astylistic character, which our own art history considered backward
and which foreign art history considered barbaric, that we today ind to be of supreme value,
because it reveals a creative method that our time accepts as the most contemporary.
Neven egvi, Architectural modernism in Croatia, 1952 2
In Bosnia, it is about two poles of architecture, about two ields of inluenceeastern
and westernthat in this ambiance seek reconciliation. Here we see the intertwining of the
western rational inluence with the eastern emotional. Because the opposites attract, it is
no coincidence that the Oriental so adores technology and that the Westerner is so attracted
by eastern architectures. We want to forge a synthesis of the rational and emotional, we care
about a harmonious contemporary architecture, which will match new needs, new materials
and technologies and will be, in our own language, understandable to our people.
Juraj Neidhardt and Duan Grabrijan, Architecture of Bosnia and
the Way to Modernity, 19573
The question of regional differences in architecture is similar to the question of language. If the language is the most authentic characteristic of a nation, then architecture is
the most permanent one. Some characteristics in the expression, like pitched roofs, bay
windows, eaves, a rhythm of volumes closely connecting the building with its ambience and
its site of existence, are only the indicators of the time when the idea originally emerged.
ivko Popovski, in Macedonian Architecture, 1974 4
In the Serbian architecture of the recent times, since the middle of the 19th century, one notices
a constant presence of the romantic spirit. There are many reasons to believe that the romantic spirit is immanent to domestic architecture, thus giving rise to the predominance of complex
forms and a certain compositional disorder over the classical sense of order and simplicity.
Zoran Manevi, Romantic Architecture, 1990 5

That Slovenian architecture was decisively marked by Plenik, Croatian architecture

astylistic, Bosnian architecture a synthesis of the rational and emotional, Macedonian
architecture rooted in the vernacular, and Serbian architecture romantic are obvious
simpliications aimed at identity-making. There were numerous Serbian architects who
designed perfectly rationally, there were Croats who produced stylistic architecture, and
there were Macedonians who were emphatically cosmopolitan. Yet, the quoted statements
testify to the widespread assumption that Yugoslavias constituent nationalities possessed
their own distinct architectural identities that relected certain transhistorical continuity.
Indeed, architectural historiography of the period was based on that assumption; the key
texts were organized according to republican borders, rather than any pan-Yugoslav criteria.6 Conversely, no one tried to formulate what would be speciically Yugoslav to architecture in Yugoslavia. If Yugoslavia as a whole was ever architecturally representedfor
example, through Vjenceslav Richters pavilionsits deining features were the project of
socialist self-management and its independent foreign policy, rather than any overarching
identity based on a common cultural essence.


Grabrijan (1968), pp. 175176.

egvi, (1952), pp. 179185.
Neidhardt and Grabrijan (1957),
p. 14.
Popovski (1974), p. 40.
Manevi (1990), p. 5.
Manevi et al. (1986), traus (1991).

On the construction of Belgrade,

Zagreb, and Ljubljana as the
national capitals of Serbs, Croats,
and Slovenes, see Damljanovi
(2003); on the construction of a
Yugoslav architectural identity,
see Ignjatovi (2007).
The Department of Architecture at
the Faculty of Civil Engineering
in Podgorica was founded in 2002
and an independent Faculty of
Architecture in 2006.

This situation was largely a consequence of the federalist organization of the state,
which in turn acknowledged the existence of the more or less formed identities of its constituent nationalities. In the interwar Kingdom of Yugoslavia, those identities were supposed
to blend, culturally and architecturally, into a single one; but due to the lawed political
dynamics of the monarchy, the project of cultural uniication never took of.7 The Communist Party owed its pan-Yugoslav success partly to its promise of allowing political and cultural autonomy to all constituent nationalities; the ones it recognized as such were not only
Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, as did the interwar monarchy, but also Macedonians and
Montenegrins and, as of 1968, Muslims by nationalitytodays Bosniaks. The guarantors
of such autonomies were the six constituent federated republics. Five were organized as
nation-states and the sixth one, Bosnia and Herzegovina, was home to three nationalities
(narod), Muslims, Serbs, and Croats. All six republics had sizable ethnic minorities (narodnost), most populous among them Albanians, Hungarians, and Italians. Serbia also had
two autonomous provinces, Vojvodina and Kosovo, which recognized both their historical
identities and the presence of non-Slavic populations.
The fact that at the beginning of this chapter we could not quote a statement regarding Yugoslavias smallest republic, Montenegro, reveals something about the way in which
architectural identities were constructed. During the socialist period, Montenegro was the
only Yugoslav republic that did not have its own school of architecture; the relative lack
of discourse about Montenegrin architecture thus seems to conirm the centrality of educational institutions in forging the corresponding national identities. 8 Belgrade, Zagreb,
and Ljubljana all entered the socialist period with the previously established architecture departments at universities, and additional two were founded in Sarajevo and Skopje
shortly after the war. (A sixth one, in Pritina, was not founded until the nineteen-eighties,
so its impact during the socialist period was limited.) Over time, these schools developed
more or less distinct proiles, deined by the most prominent practitioners, who were often
also the most inluential professors. The professional and academic elites thus generally
overlapped. The schools were the centers of architectural research. They had their charismatic personalities with devoted followings. They also included theorists, critics, and historians, who were able to articulate discourses. In short, they allowed for the construction
and reproduction of the more or less coherent architectural cultures, and since the schools
were national, the resulting cultures came to be perceived as national as well, whether or
not there were any deliberate attempts at deining national identities. The fact that professional organizations were also organized according to the republican borders only
strengthened such apparent coherence.
Unsurprisingly, distinguishing between the diferent schools based purely on their products would be tricky, not only because much of architectural production unavoidably falls
into the category of the generic, determined by the broad social and economic conditions,
but also because certain global trends, like high modernism in the late nineteen-ifties, periodically swept through the entire country. Yet, certain phenomena were speciic to individual schools, endowing them with a local character that may or may not have been related
to any speciic national content. These phenomena could manifest themselves on the representational level as stylistic preferences or as attempts to engage with the local vernacular
architectures, but they also emerged as the result of mastering certain typological or technological themes in response to the speciic problems of the region. One such instance was the
extensive experimentation with the morphology of tourist facilities on the Croatian coast in
the nineteen-sixties and -seventies; another was the so-called Belgrade apartment, a characteristic residential plan developed in response to the booming construction of mass housing.
Nation-based architectural cultures were related to, but ultimately distinct from the
question of the representation of national identities. That question was posed with particular force in conjunction with the establishment of Yugoslavias six constituent republics as states, with their own capitals, seats of political power, and national cultural institutionsall buildings with inherent representational potential. Despite their varied histories



practitioners into an unbroken chain of inluences across a century of modern architecture.

Slovenian architectsRavnikar includedwere exceptionally successful at architectural
competitions around Yugoslavia, spreading their taste for expressive structural igures to other
republics. Architects like Milan Miheli, Marko Mui, and Milo Bona worked all around the
country on important civic and commercial commissions. pp. 19293, 196 (above), 244 (below) More
often than not, these projects replaced Ravnikars intricately patterned cladding and ine details
with bold shapes in exposed concrete, closely uniting structure, form, and spatial envelope.

1 2


Cankarjev dom. At the urban level, the project mediates between the local scale of the surrounding historical blocks and the scale of the whole city, as the two towers dominate Ljubljanas skyline. Their cantilevered pointed tips, however, face each other at a close distance,
forming a colossal gate and engagingmuch like the rest of the complexin an interplay
between the monumental and the intimate. Instead of Le Corbusier, here one may trace references to Alvar Aaltos late work, such as the Finlandia Hall in Helsinki, which are especially recognizable in the congress center: cladding in thin stone slabs arranged in long narrow strips, copper roofs covered with a green patina, and the complex, broken-up forms. Yet,
Ravnikars Central European roots are still abundantly visible, particularly in the duality of
the expressive structural core and the variety of claddings. The latter included not only the
woven brickwork, known from his earlier projects, but also the exaggerated rivets used to
attach stone slabs to the faade, directly evocative of Otto Wagner.
Ravnikars explorations of tectonics evolved through the agency of his many students into
an overall taste for structure, as the architectural historian Luka Skansi recently termed it,
which became a running theme for Slovenian architects throughout the nineteen-sixties and
-seventies.17 Indeed, both Ravnikar and his followers experimented in this period with a variety of materials and structural systems, predominantly reinforced concrete, but also steel, prestressed prefabricated concrete elements, and suspension cables, which they embraced not
only for their utilitarian advantages, but also as the sources of expressive igures. Imaginative
ways of articulating and exposing the structural core of a building, while remaining true to
the logic of statics, were sought not only in building types that naturally called for such experiments, like industrial sheds or department stores, but also in residential and civic buildings.
The development symbolically marked the transition from a craft-based, small-scale production of architecture to a modern industry, thus updating Pleniks attention to material expression and meticulous details for the late twentieth century. Yet even this trend had a precedent
in Pleniks work: his 1911 Church of the Holy Spirit in Vienna, built in exposed reinforced concrete, with a slender Cubist skeleton in the crypt and the spectacular clerestory beams spanning the length of the nave. Remarkable transhistorical continuity was thus established, linking


Stanko Kristl: Residential and

Commercial Building, Velenje,
Milan Miheli: Department Store,
Osijek, 196367.
Milo Bona: Department Store
in ika, Ljubljana, 196064.

Luka Skansi, A Taste for Structure:

Architecture Figures in Slovenia
1960-1975, in Mrdulja and Kuli
(2012), pp. 424-35.


Frampton (1983), p. 21.

Balkan Regionalisms between Criticality and Representation

During his famous Voyage dOrient in 1911, the young Charles-Edouard Jeanneret passed
through the Balkans in search of an authentic traditional culture uncorrupted by modernity.
Taking the boat down the Danube, he arrived in Belgrade to ind a city that was already
beyond rescue, but then went on into the Serbian countryside, where he was enchanted by
folk art and architecture. And while he did not venture much further into what would soon
become Yugoslavia, in Bulgaria and Turkey he continued exploring the kind of vernacular
architecture that was common to much of the Balkans. The lessons he learned on that trip
provided a crucial formative experience for transforming Jeanneret into Le Corbusier.
Even before World War II, Yugoslav modernists began retracing Le Corbusiers steps,
discovering their own vernacular both as a subject of academic study and as an inspiration for contemporary work. These eforts intensiied after the war, boosted by socialisms
concerns for the cultures of the people, the developing ethnography, and the need to formulate the identities of the newly forged republics. At irst, socialist realismwith its credo
socialist in content, national in formproduced a few literal interpretations, but rural
and urban vernacular ultimately became the raw material to be reinterpreted in modern terms. The methods ranged from direct citations of forms and motifs, to critical distillation of abstract principles or, as Kenneth Frampton has put it in his famous argument
on critical regionalism, mediating the impact of the universal civilization with elements
derived indirectly from the peculiarities of a particular place.18 The motivations similarly
ranged from explicit representations aimed at identity-making to sensitive responses to
natural or cultural contexts. But there was never a coherent regionalist school; any such
attempts were overshadowed by the universalizing march of modernity even in the cities like Sarajevo and Skopje, where the traditions of urban vernacular still survived in the
environments of strong local character. Yet, in the crevices of mass urbanization, regionalist eforts produced a handful of outstanding achievements that transcended the narrow
requirements of both rapid modernization and explicit national representation.
One of the pioneers of documenting and analyzing the Balkan vernacular heritage
was yet another Pleniks student, Slovenian architect Duan Grabrijan. He began his
research in Bosnia in the nineteen-thirties and expanded it after the war to Macedonia,
producing a series of exquisitely illustrated publications, many of which came out after
his untimely death in 1952. Enchanted by the Oriental architecture he irst encountered
in Sarajevo, Grabrijan argued that it closely resonated with Le Corbusiers own work
through its cubist forms, open spatial arrangements, and close relationship with nature.
In his eforts to update the local tradition for modern times, Grabrijan found an important
ally in his friend Juraj Neidhardt, a Croatian architect with remarkable international experience, which included working for Peter Behrens and Le Corbusier and exhibiting with
the avant-garde circles in Paris in the nineteen-thirties. Neidhardt applied the results of
Grabrijans analysis in practice, producing a series of regionalist buildings around Bosnia
in the late nineteen-thirties. The apex of collaboration was the book Architecture of Bosnia
and the Way to Modernity (1957), prefaced by Le Corbusier himself.
Architecture of Bosnia claimed that, with its unpretentious emphasis on comfort instead
of monumentality, Bosnian Oriental house, was in its essence already modern, requiring
only certain technological updates to become the basis for the regions modern architecture.19



Miroslav Jovanovi:
Apartment Building
in Pariska St.,
Belgrade, 1956.

Mihajlo Mitrovi:
Apartment Building at the
corner of Brae Jugovia St.
and Dobraina St.,
Belgrade, 197377.



p. 11617

Zlatko Ugljen:
erefudin White Mosque,
Visoko, 196979.



After the war, the urban design we had in mind was not only something new and
momentous, it was far more than that: a premonition of a knowledge of what could be,
the expectation of a solution to all problems, be they social, technological or aesthetic in
nature All of a sudden these kinds of illusions and endeavors knew no more ideological or material obstacles. Or rather, we did not see them as there has never existed a society nor a man who, when in this kind of situation, would not freely let their mind wander
through thoughts of a better future and its realization in an inviting, utopian vision.
Edvard Ravnikar, 19841
And if, with ilial thoughts and feelings, you enthusiastically seize the opportunity of
giving new life to certain accords of the past which may be found again in some common
elements (as e.g. in a way of paving, a way of building, a special quality of mortar, a certain way of carving and working the wood, in a local and national human scale relected
in the selection of certain dimensions, etc.) you will build a bridge over the chasm of time
and will, in an intelligent way, become the son of your father, a child of your country, a
member of a society conditioned by history, climate, etc.and yet remain a citizen of the
worldwhich is more and more becoming the common fate of all mortals on earth.
Le Corbusier in the Preface to Architecture of Bosnia and the Way to Modernity, 1952 2

In order to build socialism, a country needs an urban working class. At the end of
World War II, Yugoslavia was neither urbanized nor industrialized: just a tenth of its population lived in cities with over 20,000 residents, and only two cities, Belgrade and Zagreb,
had more than 100,000 residents. More than two-thirds of Yugoslavs depended on agriculture and more than a quarter were illiterate. 3 To make it worse, much of the modern infrastructurealready modest by the standards of the developed worldwas destroyed in
the war, including almost one million buildings, a third of all industrial plants, and half of
railway tracks. Major cities lay in ruin. As the sine qua non of socialism, fast urbanization
thus became one of the primary goals of the new communist government.
Indeed, in the following quarter century Yugoslavia was thoroughly transformed. By
1971, due to a massive migration from rural areas, the urban population rose to 40 percent and non-agricultural to over 60 percent. The illiteracy rate was reduced to less than
a tenth, mostly accounted for by the elderly in the undeveloped rural areas in Kosovo
and Bosnia. Republican capitals took the lions share of urban growth: Belgrade and
Zagreb roughly doubled their populations, Sarajevo grew 2.5 times, and Skopje more
than tripled in size. 4 The same trend continued steadily through the remainder of the
socialist period. By the end of it, greater Belgrade had a population of over 1.5 million,
Zagreb close to a million, Sarajevo over half a million, and Skopje 450,000. Urban living, before World War II reserved for a tiny minority, became everyday experience for at
least a half of the population.
Yugoslav cities thus became machines for remaking people. They forced massive segments of the population to leave their old ways behind and adapt to a new urban life.
How were these machines conceptualized and realized? How was the socialist city
imagined? How did the enormous historical break in the construction of cities unfold?
Yugoslav modernist architects welcomed the arrival of socialism as a chance to
redress the ills of life in capitalism. As Nikola Dobrovi wrote in 1946, the old capitalist Yugoslavia, with its speculative urban economy and impotent politics, could only
produce a degenerate urban physiognomy for the benefit of the financially powerful.5 Such statements certainly echoed the dominant political discourse of the period,
but they also strongly resonated with the modernist theories of urbanism, dating back
to the earliest days of CIAM (Congrs internationaux darchitecture moderne), which
blamed capitalist speculation for the chaotic development of modern cities. Socialism,
in turn, with its emphasis on comprehensive rational planning, promised a harmonious



Edvard Ravnikar, Nova Gorica

after 35 Years, quoted in Vodopivec
and nidari (2010), p. 333.
Le Corbusiers Preface in Grabrijan
and Neidhardt (1957), p. 6.
Illiteracy rate ranged from a single
digit in Slovenia to over 40 percent
in Macedonia.
The Population of Yugoslavia (1974),
p. 53.


Dobrovi (January 1946); Dobrovi

(June 1946).
The insistence on vehicular trafic
was somewhat paradoxical,
considering the minuscule number
of private cars through the irst
half of the socialist period.
Scott (1998), p. 4.
Brigitte Le Normand ofers a
compelling account of these
challenges in the case of Belgrade;
Le Normand (2007).
For the connection between the
Black Wave and Yugoslav
urbanization, see Kirn, Sekuli,
Testen (2012).

development of human settlements, in which the self-centered pursuit of minority interests at the expense of the whole would finally come to an end. In the mind of Dobrovi
and his colleagues, socialist politics and modernist architecture converged in the same
goal: to harness the power of rational planning for the production of a new kind of harmonious and humane city.
As a result, modernist principles of urban planning famously summarized in the Athens Charterfunctional zoning, free-standing buildings in ample greenery, and the predominance of vehicular trafficdominated city building during the formative years of
the socialist period, as in much of postwar Europe. 6 These principles brought into existence whole new cities ex nihilo, subjecting the recently urbanized population to a new,
rational, and healthy way of living, yet without much consideration of their habits, preferences, and social needs. City building in Yugoslavia was thus predestined to be a case
of seeing like a state, to quote James C. Scotts well-known definition of high modernism as the ultimate convergence of architectural and political goals: a strong, one might
even say muscle-bound, version of the self-confidence about scientific and technical
progress and, above all, the rational design of social order.7 But what if the said state
is not a fixed entity, but a work in progress that fluctuates and constantly evolves? What
happens with the ideal visions of urban planners if the state itself starts cutting corners,
facing the inability to fulfill its own hubristic promise of a good life for all?
Challenges to the visions of Yugoslav planners came from both the governing elites
for pragmatic short-term gains, and from the newly urbanized population, whose booming influx outpaced the official capacities of city building. 8 As a result, even the most
important urban endeavors were compromised and some of their critical components
remained unfinished. At the same time, large unregulated settlements sprang up at the
edges of major cities, directly countering the ideal of harmoniously planned growth. The
combined effects of these challenges ultimately led to a demise of modernist blueprint
planning, which also coincided with the increasing scientization of the planning profession in the nineteen-seventies, influenced in part by regular collaborations with foreign
Some planners and architects, however, showed early on a sensibility for the specificities of local cultures and inherited environments. In response to complex conditions
they encountered, they explored alternative, more complex approaches, often independently of or parallel to the post-CIAM theory developed in the West. On the one hand, the
extensive war damage, as well as the subsequent natural disasters, required the reconstruction and improvement of the already well-defined neighborhoods, which could
be treated neither as clean slate projects nor as small-scale patch ups. On the other,
the rich surviving traditions of urban life were too powerful to ignore; combined with
the rise of historic preservation, they emerged as values to be maintained and reinterpreted, rather than mercilessly eradicated (which, however, did not always save them
from eradication). Such an approach was at first not necessarily in opposition to modernist principles, but rather worked as their extension or an internal critique. By the
late nineteen-sixties, however, criticism of the anomie of new modernist neighborhoods,
mounted simultaneously by sociologists and the public, thoroughly challenged modernist ideals, shifting the accent to such intangible values as historical continuity and
ambiance. The internal critique from within the profession then further undermined
them, signaling the rise of postmodernism.
By the late nineteen-sixties, the dark underbelly of socialist urbanization acquired
considerable visibility in the public. Unregulated urban developments and social pathology continued their long tradition, contradicting the promise of a just socialist society.
Some social groups were left on the margins of progress, while others prospered thanks
to everyones collective efforts. Sociologists studied these contradictions, journalists sensationalized them, and filmmakers used them as the raw material for a full-fledged
movie genre known as the Black Wave.9 Yet, despite the unfulfilled promise of instan-


p. 14647

Nikola Dobrovi:
Generaltab (Federal Ministry of Defense and
Yugoslav Peoples Army Headquarters),
Belgrade, 195463. Damaged in 1999.




whole continent at the time went through massive state-sponsored social programs, yet
realized in widely different political systems. 5 Similarly to many other European countries East and West, social collective housing in Yugoslavia was the most visible building
type of the postwar urbanization, which took up much of architectural practice; but hundreds of thousands of individual family homes were also built with private funds, often
aided by loans from banks and enterprises. Schools, hospitals, universities, and other
institutions of social standardas they used to be knownwere all socially owned; yet
collective workers or childrens resorts were increasingly replaced by hotels, which one
chose according to individual preferences and financial means.
The resulting Yugoslav dreamas historians have termed it after the factwas a
hybrid way of life that mixed collectivism and individualism in a characteristic blend:
the systemic preference for socialized housing, but considerable consumerist freedom in
equipping ones home; free socialized health services, but individualized vacationing in
a hotel on the Adriatic coast; free socialized education, but a thriving and diverse popular culture. Fulfilling that dream was not completely accessible to everyone; one of its
paradoxes was that the more affluent classes professionals and white-collar workers
were almost certain to acquire an affordable social apartment, and at the same time
were able to spend their already higher disposable incomes on consumer goods and
individual travel and entertainment. In contrast, the much more numerous blue-collar
workers often had to expend their modest incomes on building their own houses, while
spending their vacations in the more affordable collectivized resorts. Yet for broad segments of the population, regardless of their specific position in the system, the period
between the late nineteen-fifties and the economic crisis of the nineteen-eighties is still
remembered as a time of progress and upward mobility, which also created much of the
existing architecture of everyday life.
For all these reasons, one might argue, it is precisely in the sphere of everyday life
that Yugoslavia was the most explicitly socialist and the most peculiarly Yugoslav.
That was the context in which the largest body of architecture was built. Although building on a strong modernist tradition and limited by relatively strict material constraints,
that architecture only briefly succumbed to the extreme utilitarianism stereotypically
associated with socialism, and when it did, it was more due to poverty than for ideological reasons. Of course, most everyday architecture fell, at best, into the category of
solid but unremarkable, repeating or adapting the models known from elsewhere; but
certain clearly defined architectural cultures developed around the programs of everyday lifeleisure, housing, the institutions of social standardbased on a considerable
amount of research and innovation. These cultures took up an activist notion of design
as a tool of social progress that mediates between collectivism and individual freedom, finding, for example, room for experiment in educational institutions and the spatial qualities of open plan in tight socialized apartments, or articulating the booming
tourist industry to preserve the natural beauty and public access to the pristine Adriatic
coast. Their particular success was in finding Architecture where one normally would
not expect itin mass housing or mass tourismestablishing a massive infrastructure of
daily life that is still in use throughout the region.

The generation that is alive right now and that is building a new society with its
efforts must enjoy the fruits of its labor, not just some distant, future generations.
Josip Broz Tito, n.d.1

The relationship between the collective well-being and individual freedom is at the
core of all great ideologies of modern times. The term socialism encompasses a wide variety of ideas about that relationship, but the most commonly known version was deined
in the irst country of socialism, the Soviet Union, by introducing a high level of vertical (hierarchical) collectivism. A centralized, planned, state-run economy and the socialized provision of housing, education, culture, leisure, and health services all resulted in
relative uniformity in the everyday life; a long-term orientation towards heavy industry
rather than consumer goods further added a sense of material scarcity. An extreme version of functionalism, applied in architecture under Nikita Khrushchevs program to solve
the housing crisis after Stalins death, hardly helped this image; it provided the irst opportunity of modern housing for millions of Soviet citizens, but at the price of monotonous residential neighborhoods consisting of enormous numbers of identical prefabricated buildings, spread across the country with little variation. Despite the great strides in economic
development after World War II, the stereotype of monotony and austerity plagued everyday life in the Soviet Unionand in varied degrees the countries under its domination
virtually until its very end, becoming one of the most vulnerable spots in its confrontation
with the West. The famous 1959 Kitchen Debate in Moscow between Khrushchev and the
American Vice President Richard Nixon demonstrated how domesticity could be mobilized
in a propaganda war; as architectural historian Greg Castillo has shown, homes thus
became a major front on which the Cold War was fought and household appliances and
objects of modern design were some of its key weapons. 2
Yugoslavia in many ways departed from the stereotype of socialist austerity. The
Yugoslavs enjoyed greater affluence than their brethren in other socialist states, as
well as the freedom to travel both East and West. Both were the products of a series of
reforms that began after the break with Stalin in 1948, facilitating an experiment with
the gradual liberalization and decentralization of economy, which included increasing levels of market competition, especially after the reforms of the mid-nineteen-sixties. The result was a well-developed consumer culture that in many ways resembled
that found in the Westcomplete with a thriving advertising industrysharing the same
basic aspirations, only more modest and egalitarian. As the Yugoslavs eagerly learned
to shop, spend, and travel, a new, large class of consumers came into being, generating, as historian Patrick Patterson argues, the first truly pan-Yugoslav identity, based
on common consumer experiences. 3 At the same time, the state provided widespread
social safety nets, as well as the first opportunities for education for the massive numbers of people, virtually eradicating the previously widespread illiteracy. For better or
worse, much of the population was thus shielded from the direct effects of the fluctuating
market and offered a chance of upward mobility and emancipation, even though socialisms promise of guaranteed employment for all was far from fulfilled. 4 Those who could
not find their place in the system were allowed to seek fortune abroadtypically in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, or Francefurther fueling the native thirst for consumerism
by shipping Western goods back home.
Daily life thus decisively shifted from radical, ascetic collectivization of the first postwar years towards a Good Life of greater individualism and affluence. Yet Yugoslavia was still a socialist state; on an imaginary scale between total collectivization and
total individualism, it was somewhere in the middle, more collectivized than the West,
but also more individualistic than the socialist East. A focused comparison not only with
other socialist countries, but also with West European welfare states would, no doubt, be
beneficial in determining Yugoslavias precise position of on that scale, since almost the


Quoted in Patterson (2012), p. 207.

Castillo (2010).
For an exhaustive study of Yugoslav
consumer culture, see Patterson
On the problem of unemployment in
Yugoslavia, see Woodward (1995).

Sweden, as the most socialized

among Western states, might be
a good point of reference; see
Mattson and Wallenstein (2010).

Experiments in Social Standard

The modernization of Yugoslavia included the construction of an extensive network of
the institutions of social standard, predominantly educational, healthcare, culture, and
sports facilities, from the local to the national level. pp. 16465, 19295 Such programs were
included in the plans of all large, new neighborhoods, as well as in the existing settlements that lacked them. With their predominantly modernist language, these new facilities became deeply ingrained in the collective memory of the region as one of the defining images of modern life, participating in the citizens socialization from an early age.


in situ methods. The production ranged from utilitarian to inspiredIvo Vitis Apartment building in Laginjina St. and Drago Galis reinterpretations of Le Corbusiers
Unit dhabitation, both in Zagreb, were significant examples of the latterbut it was
predominantly limited to one-off solutions or very small series. pp. 52, 199 The turning
point occurred at the end of the decade, sparked in part by the push both in Belgrade
and Zagreb to cross the river Sava and build new mass housing on virgin soil. In
Zagreb, the architect Bogdan Budimirov in collaboration with eljko Solar and Dragutin
Stilinovi developed prefabricated systems YU60 and YU61 for the construction firm
Jugomont, and used the latter on Novi Zagrebs housing blocks (the Yugoslav equivalent to the microrayon: a housing neighborhood equipped with basic public services). 23
Based on large transversal concrete panels, YU61 featured elegant faades with
orthogonal neoplasticist grids, filled in with reflective aluminum panels, which
prompted the inhabitants to nickname the buildings tins. At the Institute for the Testing of Materials of Serbia (IMS) in Belgrade, the engineer Branko eelj developed from
1957 a prestressed skeletal system consisting of precast columns and slabs, which was
widely used across Yugoslavia and also proved to be a successful export product, as it
was used to build over 150,000 apartments across the world, from Hungary and Italy, to
Cuba, Angola, and the Philippines. The major advantage of the IMS eelj system was
its openness and a great deal of flexibility in designing both the buildings envelope
and the interior partitions, thus practically allowing Le Corbusiers five points of
architecture to be put in practice in the context of collective social housing. The systems
freedom in organizing the faade is patently obvious in various neighboring blocks in
central New Belgrade, all designed within less than fifteen years: from the smooth
modernist chic of white mosaic tiles at Block 21, to the complex brutalist assembly at
Block 23, to the exaggerated skeletal grid evoking traditional timber-frame construction
at Block 19a. pp. 138 39, 175, 200, 202
Besides the Jugomont and IMS systems, a host of other systems were used in Yugoslavia, either locally developed or imported from abroad, often involving some tinkering with
the original technology in the process of its local application. 24 On top of that, the industrialized production was often hybridized with traditional labor-intensive technologies. In
such instances, the structural core of the building was typically prefabricated and the rest
built conventionally, thus partly undermining the very raison dtre of industrialization.
Although less eficient, such an approach, in combination with the multiplicity of systems
in use, resulted in highly diverse appearances; one might argue that it was a failurethe
lack of central coordination and the need to improvise due to lacking technologythat
inadvertently saved the country from the extreme monotony resulting from the consistently
applied standardization and industrialization. pp. 98, 20103 As an illustration, it is indicative that collective housing in Yugoslavia never became so closely identiied with its structural nature that it derived a name from it, as was the case elsewhere; there is thus no colloquial equivalent in the Yugoslav languages for the Czechoslovak panelk, the German
Plattenbau, or the Hungarian panelhz. Instead, individual apartment buildings were
often nicknamed after certain formal characteristic or for their sheer size, for example: televizorka (TV set), named for its rounded windows resembling TV-screens, in New Belgrade;
mamutica (mammoth), over 200 meters long and twenty stories high in Zagreb; and krstarica (cruise-ship), a massive mega-structure in Split 3.
Another reason for the relative diversity of Yugoslav collective housing were the uncertain and changing standards. There were never standard apartment types devised to be
built across the whole country, as was the case elsewhere. 25 With few exceptions, the replication of plans occurred only within the same housing block and each block was designed
anew, often using a diferent system of prefabrication. Moreover, for each new project, the
selected prefabricated system was customized to it the speciics of the architectural solution. Reasons were ultimately political: the lack of central power to impose one universal
standard and the freedom of construction companies to act according to the requirements


Ilija Arnautovi: Televizorka (TV set)

apartment building, Block 28,
New Belgrade, 196871.
Frane Gotovac: Krstarica
(cruise-ship) apartment building,
Split 3, Split, 197173.
1 2

On Budimirov, see Mattioni (2007).

We thank Jelica Jovanovi, Jelena
Grbi and Dragana Petrovi for
sharing some of their research;
Jovanovi, Grbi, Petrovi (2011).
25 Compare, for example, the case of
Czechoslovakia, where the
architectural profession built onto a
stronger industrial tradition to
successfully implement typiication
already in the nineteen-ifties; see
Zarecor (2011), pp. 69112, 22494.

Jelica Jovanovi and Tanja Conley,

Housing Architecture in Belgrade
(1950-1980) and Its Expansion to the
Left Bank of the River Sava,
in Mrdulja and Kuli (2012),
pp. 296-313
27 Ibid.

of the market. In an increasingly decentralized economy, a broad range of agentsinvestors and clientsentered into diverse partnerships, for example: state agencies in charge
of coordinating the construction, socialist enterprises needing homes for their workers, or
local communities inancing the classic social housing for the underprivileged. No wonder, then, that it was the powerful federal organ ization like the Yugoslav Peoples Army
that developed its own consistent standards, since it was suficiently large to have the
inancial means and interest for investing in research. The resulting standards were not
only quantitative, deining the minimum and maximum sizes of apartments and rooms,
but also qualitative, prescribing the minimum requirements in the layout and equipment,
thus putting an end to the previously common problems such as pass-through bedrooms
or hard to organize kitchens. As the recent research by Jelica Jovanovi and Tanja Conley indicates, the Armys privileged standards soon leaked into civilian use and became a
widely adopted common good. 26
It was under these unique conditions that an identifiable culture of residential design
developed in Belgrade, resulting in the so-called Belgrade plan and a Belgrade school
of residential architecture. The prime site for its emergence were at first the central
blocks of New Belgrade, the design of which was determined at a series of public competitions, thus prompting the architects to follow and improve on each others solutions.
These competitions brought to light a number of young architects and architectural
teams specializing in residential design: Milenija and Darko Marui; Boidar Jankovi,
Branislav Karadi i Aleksandar Stjepanovi; Milan Lojanica, Borivoje Jovanovi, and
Predrag Cagi; Sofija Vujanac-Borovnica and Nedeljko Borovnica, and others. One of
the key figures was Mihajlo anak, who founded the Center for Housing within the IMS
Institute, thus bringing together the research in technology and housing culture, conducted in close collaboration with sociologists and other experts. 27 The result was a fast
evolution in the quality and complexity of design methodology, which soon moved from
standard modernist towers and slabs, partitioned apartments, and a complete separation of urban and architectural design, towards an integral design of the whole block
(from the master plan down to street furniture), new typologies and concepts of urban
space, and flexible, open apartments.


pp. 19293

Marko Mui:
Cyril and Methodius University Complex,
Skopje, 1974.



Josip Seissel (planning), Ivan Viti (architecture),

Zvonimir Frchlich and Pavle Ungar (landscaping):
Pioneers City (youth center),
Zagreb, 1948.


Rikard Marasovi:
Childrens Health Resort, Krvavica near
Makarska, 1961.



Architects in socialist Yugoslavia thus found themselves in a complex ideological space

between the past and the future, simultaneously trying to navigate a convoluted history
and to steer in the direction of a brighter future. The realistic approach under such conditions was to stay anchored in the present. Simply catching up with the developed world
was already an enormous challenge, which in itself contained a good dose of futurism.
Most architects were thus akin to drivers in the middle lane, advancing at a realistic speed,
glancing from time to time at the rear-view mirror, and occasionally inding inspired shortcuts forward. Such driving was perfectly in line with the general course of modernization
and yet it could not lead to all the practical and symbolic destinations that had to be visited. Accelerating beyond the available technological limits was more easily imagined than
done, although not entirely out of reach; but it was still possible to wander of the curb, into
the unpaved terrains of the past. It was on these uncharted detours from the steady course
of modernization that some of the most original achievements were made.

How could we describe our reality if what is currently going on here happens nowhere
else in the world, if everything here is infused with synchronous circles of six centuries:
what emerges between the baroque, Morlachia, Turkish and Austrian small-townswithin
the framework of a dramatic struggle with the Kremlin for internationalist principles of
Leninismare the contours of the twenty-second century!
Miroslav Krlea, 19521

The relationship toward historical time is a crucial question of modernity and of its cultural manifestations. Communism was by deinition a vanguard projection into the future;
as such, it was supposed to be in natural alliance with cultural avant-gardes. But communist revolutions did not automatically lead to communism; instead, the resultant socialist
states were understood as only transitional stages towards a future utopia. The relationship
of their cultures to historical time was thus rendered far more ambiguous than a simple
light into the future. Such ambiguity was established well before World War II: as the
Russian architectural historian Vladimir Paperny theorized, the post-revolutionary Soviet
Union developed two distinct cultures with opposed attitudes in regard to history. 2 According to the avant-garde view, the revolution was a new beginning; everything existing was
supposed to be burned down and the architects had the task of imagining a brand new
world from scratch. But the shift to socialist realism in the nineteen-thirties imposed an
eschatological view in the opposite direction, proposing the revolution as an ending, or a
culmination of civilization. As Stalinism indeinitely postponed the inal attainment of utopia, architects were expected to summarize all the progressive traditions of architectural
history rather than to invent anything radically new. Socialism and its architecture thus
by no means had to be aligned in their orientation to history; they could move at diferent
speeds and even look in opposite directions.
When Yugoslav architects encountered socialism in 1945, conflicting attitudes
abounded. The state expected to impose the socialist realist end of history, but its
efforts were compromised by the lack of official gatekeepers in the field of architecture. In contrast, modernists argued that, like every other epoch in history, socialism
should strive to develop its own style; given the harsh material realities of the postwar
situation, however, they could hardly afford to dream up any radical visions. Instead of
emphasizing a complete reinvention of architecture, the profession argued for a moderately progressive approach, maintaining continuity with the socially engaged prewar
modernism; as Sarajevo architect Mate Baylon wrote in 1946, We are not starting from
scratchwe are continuing with our work.3
The break with the Soviet Union and the introduction of the system of self-management
revived the status of Yugoslav socialism as a progressive project shaping the contours
of the twenty-second century. Restating Marxs call for a ruthless critique of everything
existing, the conclusion of the 1958 Program of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia enthusiastically invited perpetual experimentation: Nothing that has been created so
far should be so sacred that it cannot be overcome, that it cannot be replaced with something more progressive, more liberated, and more humane.4 But the accumulated layers
of history still weighed down the leap into utopia: not only the weight of backwardness,
which demanded decades to be skipped in order to achieve development, but also the varied identities of Yugoslavias constituent nationalities, which critically depended on history. Even more importantly, there was the massive weight of the recent war, from which the
socialist project sprang, combining the revolution with antifascist liberation and the struggle against nationalist fratricide and thus conlating the basic legitimizing statements of
the new state into an inseparable whole. It was a history of epic sufering and redemption
against all odds, pitching Davids against Goliaths and good against evilthe stuf myths
are made of. And myths were indeed made through the careful editing of the past, and
relentlessly perpetuated through all modes of cultural production.


Krlea (1961), p. 189; translated

by V.K.
Paperny (2002), pp. 1332.
Baylon (1946).
Program Saveza komunista
Jugoslavije (1977), p. 259.


Berman (1982), p. 173.

Rosen (2011).

Looking Ahead
One might expect that in a country like Yugoslaviawhich attracted worldwide attention for its experiment of reinventing social relations for the sake of a more just, equitable
worldarchitects would plunge into experimentation or utopian thinking without reservations. But that was hardly the case; for the most part, architecture in Yugoslavia was realistic, driven by pragmatic concerns. Instead of radical visions, there were evolutionary steps
of adapting and retooling the existing modernist strategies. That was by no means a small
feat: it meant that modernism was ultimately transformed from a modernism of underdevelopment, as Marshall Berman famously called it, into an agent of modernization. 5 It stopped
being a statement of intent and became a tool of progress. Even if it was not always on the
technological or aesthetic cutting edge, even when it was moderate or derivative, modernism came to stand for the actual realization of the promise of a better future; in a sense, most
of this book is about that kind of futurism. It is unsurprising that the typical manifestations of
space-age futurism, found both in the West and the Soviet Union, were not common in Yugoslavia, considering that the country was nowhere near partaking in the space technology.
Still, a more radical merger of social critique and technological promise, like the one that
lourished in the post-revolutionary Soviet Union, should have been imaginable. Indeed, it
was local artists who were far more adventurous in those terms, as the Zagreb-based international movement of New Tendencies demonstrated by establishing one of the worlds irst
hotbeds of computer art. 6 Rather than just a symptom of lingering conservatism, the relative
scarcity of radical ideas in Yugoslav architecture may have been a result of the fact that the
architectural profession was too busy with the very real project of modernization to waste
the time with utopian considerations. By the time it inally became clear that fast modernization came at a price, the age of techno-utopias had already passed internationally and
the critique, like everywhere else, materialized in its postmodernist form.
The question of technological development was of key importance, since it determined
the framework of the architects imagination. Material conditions at the end of World War
II were miserable, greatly limiting the practical possibilities of construction. Among the
rare examples of consciously progressive thought at that timeas well as precedents for
future achievementswere the sports facilities that the Croatian architect Vladimir Turina
designed in the late nineteen-forties for cities around Yugoslavia. His Dinamo Stadium in
Zagrebthe only one of these realizedfeatured straightforward yet elegant stands in
reinforced concrete, whose exposed supports evoked the structural poetic of Constructivism. But it was one of his unrealized projects that represented a singular achievement for its
visionary quality: an aquatic center in Rijeka, a radical exploration of the concept of lexibility. The project envisioned a system of stands sliding on rails between the outdoor and
indoor pools, the latter enveloped in an enormous cylindrical concrete shell. The pools could
also be covered to serve as courts for other kinds of sport, even as airplane hangars. It was



Neven egvi: Project for the

Museum of National Revolution,
Rijeka, 197276 Sketch.

and maintains a clear avant-garde character. At the root of his work is that very first
avant-garde monument, created by Tatlin in 1921 for the Third International.17 The same
statement could be easily applied to the works of the sculptor Vojin Baki, who indeed
exhibited with the artists from the (neo-)avant-garde group EXAT 51 and the movement
New Tendencies. pp. 250 51 Finished in 1981, his memorial to a wartime partisan hospital atop Mt. Petrova Gora was the pinnacle of a systematic, decades-long search for
monumental abstraction. It was one of the most architectural of the sculptor-designed
memorials, enclosing a dramatic, fully inhabitable space with twelve interior levels that
could be used as exhibition spaces. It was also among the last large-scale commemorative structures constructed before the collapse of the country, long after the golden age
of commemoration had passed. Even in todays seriously dilapidated state, the memorials liquid forms in stainless steel appear futuristic, despite the fact that in the meantime Frank Gehry made similar approach widely known.
Besides monuments and memorials, which trailed between the disciplinary boundaries,
sites of memory included certain properly architectural building types, such as the various memorial museums. A sizable subset of such institutions were the museums of the revolution, built in most large cities around the country. pp. 24849, 26263 Suspended between
functional demands and the need for symbolism, most of these buildingssuch as those in
Sarajevo, Novi Sad, and Rijekawere the versions of white modernist volumes with a certain expressive element occasionally added into the formula; the gravity-defying white volume of the Sarajevo museum achieved one of the most ethereal statements of that kind. But
outside of large cities and in instances where the program demanded explicit commemoration, it was possible to explore more evocative strategies. In small towns or in open landscapes, it was relatively common to abstract the local vernacular architecturetypically
houses and cabins with steep roofsthus tying the revolution to the people and at the
same time regionalizing modernist tropes. p. 244 On the other hand, buildings like the
Memorial Museum umarice in Kragujevac, which commemorated a massive massacre
of civilians by the German troops in 1941, aimed at empathy through an abstract spatial
and tectonic coniguration. p. 24647 Ivan Anti and Ivanka Raspopovi designed it after
their success with the Museum of Contemporary Art in New Belgrade, taking a step further in the exploration of group form by clustering brick shafts of varying heights. With no
windows, lit only by the distant skylight at the top of each narrow shaft, the interior stirs the
emotions by evoking a sense of claustrophobia and hopelessness, while still fulilling the
pragmatic requirements of the program.


Argan (1981), pp. 78.

Duan Damonja: Monument to the

Revolution, Mrakovica, Mt. Kozara,
Vojin Baki: Monument to the
Revolution of the People of
Slavonia, Kamenska, 195868.
Vojin Baki: Memorial to the
Revolution, Mali Petrovac,
Mt. Petrova Gora, 198081, model.

Curtis, Kruec, Vodopivec (2004).

Ljiljana Blagojevi makes a case for
Bogdanovi as a postmodernist:
Blagojevi (2011).

1 2 3

The sites of memory had quite varied destinies after the collapse of the socialist state.
Some sufered amidst the attempts to reimagine the states that succeeded Yugoslavia by
erasing the predecessors traces. Vojin Baki fared particularly badly under such circumstances: besides Petrova Gora, which is still undergoing slow dismantling, his memorial
at Kamenskaanother dramatic form in stainless steelwas blown to pieces. Many others sites were damaged in the multiple wars of the nineteen-nineties. Most memorials, however, never lost their symbolic meaning and still continue their commemorative function.
Some have been meticulously repaired and some have been even celebrated as pinnacles
of the respective national cultures: Ravnikars cemetery at Kampor, for example, was presented as Slovenias entry at the Biennale of Architecture in Venice in 2004.18

Bogdan Bogdanovic and the Mediation of Universal Memory

Between his irst commission for the Monument to the Jewish Victims of Fascism in 1952
and the collapse of Yugoslavia forty years later, Bogdan Bogdanovi (19222010) became
the preeminent builder of memorials, eighteen in total scattered through ive of Yugoslavias six republics and in both autonomous provinces. Bogdanovis signiicance, however,
exceeded that of his built work; he was also a proliic author, an original architectural and
urban theorist, a charismatic professor at the University of Belgrade with a cultish following, a master draughtsman, an active politician and one-time mayor of Belgrade, and a
political dissident who went into exile because of his opposition to nationalism at the end
of the socialist period. Bogdanovis was also the most self-conscious attempt to mediate
between past, present, and future and in many ways it anticipated and was closely afiliated with the rising post-modernism.19 But if his work should be labeled postmodern at
all, it was a strain of postmodernism all its own: populist, but not commercial; in search of
archetypes, but not typology; embracing ornament, but not favoring any particular language; and ultimately based on avant-garde methods, those of surrealism, a movement
that otherwise had limited impact on architecture.
Bogdanovi was introduced to surrealism from an early age, through his father, a literary critic who was in close contact with the circle of Belgrade surrealists. As a student, the
young Bogdan dreamed of designing surrealist architecture, for which he had no prec-


p. 23839

Bogdan Bogdanovi:
Jasenovac Memorial Complex,
Jasenovac, 195966.



p. 24243

Bogdan Bogdanovi:
Partisans Cemetery,
Mostar, 195965.




p. 25051

Vojin Baki and Berislav erbeti:

Monument to the Partisans,
Petrova Gora, 1979.

Vladimir Kuli is an architectural historian and the
co-editor of the forthcoming book Sanctioning Modernism: Architecture and the Making of Postwar Identities
with Monica Penick and Timothy Parker. In 2009, he
received the Bruno Zevi Prize for a Historical/Critical
Essay in Architecture. He teaches at Florida Atlantic

Maroje Mrdulja is an architecture and design critic,

curator, and author of several books, including Testing
reality Contemporary Croatian Architecture and
Design and Independent Culture. He is the editor
of Oris magazine and Head of the Research Library at
the Faculty of Architecture in Zagreb.

Wolfgang Thaler is based in Vienna and specializes

in architectural photography. He has exhibited and
published widely, in his own publications (Aida Mit
reiner Butter, MepYuk), as well as in collaborative
projects, such as Das Frstenzimmer von Schloss
Velthurns, The Looshaus, and Vito Acconci: Building
an Island.

Archive of Yugoslavia, Belgrade: 38/3, 41/1, 42/12, 43/1
Atlas of Croatian Architecture of the 20th and 21st Centuries, Zagreb: 181/4
CCN-Images, Zagreb: 38/2, 38/4, 47/1, 124/1-2, 126/3, 127/2,
136/1, 181/23, 182/2
IMS Institute, Center for Housing, Belgrade: 175/2, 177/1
Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb: 218/1 (Dunja
Donassy-Bonai), 220/3
Museum of the City of Zagreb, Zagreb: 26/1, 218/23
Oris: 23/1, 80/3, 81/12
State Archive of Croatia: 126/1
Ustanova France in Marta Ivanek: 179/12

Private Collections:
Courtesy Baki Family Archive: 225/2
Courtesy Bogdan Bogdanovi: 226/12
Courtesy Zoran Bojovi: 48/12
Courtesy Robert Burghardt: 225/1 (photo Robert
Courtesy iin ain Family Archive: 181/1
Courtesy Aleksandar Jankovi: 39/4
Courtesy Milo Jurii: 26/2, 36/2, 38/1, 39/12, 82/1, 219/1
Courtesy Vinja Kuko: 136/2
Courtesy Vladimir Mattioni: 175/1, 178/1
Courtesy Dejan Milivojevi: 82/34
Courtesy Mihajlo Mitrovi: 82/5
Courtesy Vesna Perkovi-Jovi: 177/2
Courtesy private collection: 127/1

Courtesy Aleksandar Stjepanovi: 175/3
Courtesy Ela Turkui: 88/4, 132/2, 182/3
Courtesy Zlatko Ugljen and Nina Ademovi Ugljen: 91/13
Photo Janez Kalinik: 86/3
Photo Nino Vrani: 86/2
Photo Vladimir Kuli: 24/3, 27/12, 36/1, 85/1, 222/12

Supported by

Arhitekt (Ljubljana): 171/1, 222/3
Arhitektura (Zagreb): 24/2, 34/1, 34/3, 34/4, 34/5, 43/2,
80/12, 123/1, 125/2, 131/2, 168/1-4, 171/23, 228/1
Arhitektura Urbanizam (Belgrade): 39/3, 82/2, 86/1, 125/1, 126/2
ovjek i prostor (Zagreb): 129/1, 170/1, 182/1
Sinteza (Ljubljana): 170/2
Tehnika (Belgrade): 34/2

Other Publications
Dubrovi, Ervin: Ninoslav Kuan, exhibition catalog
(Rijeka: Muzej grada Rijeke, 2006): 173/1
Grabrijan, Duan, and Juraj Neidhardt, Arhitektura
Bosne i put u suvremeno / Architecture of Bosnia and
the Way to Modernity (Ljubljana: Dravna zaloba
Slovenije, 1957): 88/13, 132/1
Grimmer, Vera, ed., Neven egvi, special issue of
Arhitektura (XLV, no. 211, 2002): 224/1
Grupa Me, exhibition catalogue
(Belgrade: Studentski kulturni centar, 1981): 228/2
Horvat-Pintari, Vera, Vjenceslav Richter, (Zagreb:
Graiki Zavod Hrvatske): 1970, 43/3, 220/12
Katalog stanova JNA / 1 (Belgrade: Savezni sekretarijat
za narodnu odbranu, 1988): 178/2
Krippner, Monica, Yugoslavia Invites
(London: Hutchinson, 1954): 23/2, 24/1
Novi Beograd 1961 (Belgrade: Direkcija za izgradnju
Novog Beograda, 1961): 123/23
Projekt spomenika na Petrovoj gori. (Zagreb: Acta
architectonica, Zavod za arhitekturu Arhitektonskog
fakuleteta Sveuilita u Zagrebu): 1981, 225/3
Skopje Resurgent: The Story of a United Nations Special
Fund Town Planning Project
(New York: United Nations, 1970): 45/1, 135/12

2012 by jovis Verlag GmbH and

Vladimir Kuli, Maroje Mrdulja, Wolfgang Thaler
Texts by kind permission of the authors.
Pictures by kind permission of the photographers/
holders of the picture rights.
All rights reserved.

Wolfgang Thaler
Goce Delev Student Dormitory, Skopje, 1969
cartomedia (
Vladimir Kuli, Maroje Mrdulja, and Wolfgang Thaler
All color photographs
Wolfgang Thaler
Graphic concept, layout and typesetting
Memphis (Rudolf Wolf), Regular (Nik Thoenen)
Printing and binding
GRASPO CZ, a.s., Zln

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ISBN 978-86859-147-7