May 29, 2009

Masterpieces by Petar and Branko Krstic

Villa of Stevka Milicevic, Uzicka 54, Belgrade (1929-1930)

Petar and Branko Krstic, the architects that made the St.Mark's Church in Belgrade (here the post) were mostly popular for realizing in the 1920's and 1930's some masterpieces of modernism in Belgrade.

The modernism in Belgrade was not just the same as the modernism i
n the rest of always kept a certain Serbian flavor, making it uniqie of its kind. Following some modernist rules, Serbian architects like the Krstic brothers preserved also the historical or national style. For that their project showed both: modern shapes and language and traditional elements of the burgeoise architecture.
So it made the buildings much more approchable for the "normal" upper-class citizen and were not like for example Le Corbusier's villas in France, that were projects more for an intellectual elite.
Ljiljana Blagojevic calls the Krstic brother's architecture "Hybrid Architecture. ( in her book "The elusive margins of Belgrade architecture" ).

A good example is the villa of barrister Milicevic (1929-1930). It can be seen as the hybrid form of the transitional stage in the definition of the modern style.

From the Blagojevic's book: The form of the villa is a simple cube set into the slo
ping terrain, appearing from the street as a single-story house with a raised ground floor and opening toward the garden with a full height of two levels.
The duality is accentuated by the facade decoration in bold horizontal striping of the piano nobile, the quite elaborate design of the approaching footbridge and external stairs, and the front garden layout.
The porch over the main entrance is supported by caryatids, set in front of the asymmetrical facade as a direct historicist quotation.
The villa reflected the architects' aim of a harmonious synthesis of art, decoration, and architecture, which was to become a trademark o
f their particular style.
In their design of Villa Vukosava (1930-1931) for Professor Dusan Tomic, the hybrid is created by crossing the traditional structural system and plan with an externally modernized form.

The compact plan, constricted by the massive load-bearing wall structure, is organized around a central hall in a traditional manner, with no exploration of the continuity of space between the ground and first floor. The staircase is literally built in between the thick brickwork walls, and the private quarters on the upper level simply repeat the arrangement of rooms from below.

The formal interpretation, however, moves away from historicist paradigms: the cubic composition is simple and restrained, and the facades are plain and smooth. The cubic purity, however, had to be given the proper dress: clear style signifiers such as the elaborate, decorative moldings signifying modern style planted onto the wall surface.

The final touch of luxury to the otherwise modest villa was provided by the articulation of the entrance zone with generously curved portal and wide external stairs, originally envisaged with an asymmetrically positioned sculpture by Branko Krstic, a draped nude leading two mythical dogs, and a shallow rectangular pond in front.

Lazic Villa at Milovana Glisica Street 4, Belgrade (1931)

With the double villa of Olga Lazic (1931), the Krstic brothers achieved the high point of their modernist career. The atypical site of the villa, with a very limited depth and stretching longitudinally parallel to the street, was sold by the neighboring owner on condition that only one house be built on it.

The architects were, however, requested by their client to design two independent houses, which they did by resolving the riddle in a clever, rather ambiguous manner. They designed two identical, totally separated houses mirrored in corner positions of the site, yet positively connected by an elongated, one-story-high gazebo, thus achieving the effective appearance of one integral structure.

The effect was enhanced by the planar treatment of the facade cladding in sleek marble slabs laid in a continual pattern, in which subtle variation of the grid emphasized the longitudinal stretch of the composition.

Jelinic Residence, at Kumanovska Street in Belgrade (1930-1931)

If anything, the brothers Krstic were masters of finishes. Even today, after decades of neglect, their buildings have to be appreciated for the finesse and quality of detailing in the use of materials. The facade of the rental apartment building of Mrs. Jelinic in Kumanovska Street (1930-1931) is perhaps the most telling example of their skill.

It is no wonder that they themselves chose this building to represent them on the pages of the magazine Arhitektura. The facade surface is formed by the inlaid materials of dark polished granite, matte gray-green stone, Terranova plastering, and Branko Krstic's cast reliefs in reconstituted stone, which are all carefully fitted together as a piece of marquetry.

It is this skill in putting together different textures, patterns, and materials that distinguishes the Krstic label, however much the designs, or even styles, of their facades varied from case to case.

Some examples of Krstic brothers facades:

In this sense, a Krstic facade is easily recognized, whether it is the starkly elegant column dress cut like the Igumanov Palace (1936-1937); or the simple little all-purpose black dress like the rental apartment building for Josif Sojat in Brankova Street (1934).

And if the sartorial metaphor is cast aside, the Krstic brothers still hold prominence as one of the most representative creators of the Belgrade modern style.

Elegant column at the Igumanov Palace, Terazije, Belgarde (1936-1937)

Simple but very tide facade for the rental apartment building for Josif Sojat in Brankova Street, Belgarde (1934)

The Yugoslavian Pavillon at the World Trade Fair in Philadelphia (1924-1925)

Other buildings by Petar and Branko Krstic in this blog:

Agrarian bank building in Belgrade

St. Mark's Church in Belgrade

May 25, 2009

St. Mark's Church in Belgrade

One of the first churches I visited in Belgrade was the St. Mark's Church (Црква Светог Марка) and it's also the place where i bought my first brojanica.

The church is situated very central at Tasmajdan (
Bulevar kralja Aleksandra 17) and is a good example of a Serbian-Byzantine style architecture and one of the most important works of the architect brothers Petar and Branko Krstić.

Where an old church from 1835 used to be (
which was demolished during the bombing of 1941), the Krstic borther errected this church (1931-1940) that reminds a lot of Gracanica Monastery in Kosovo and Metohija (indeed it was Gracanica that served as inspiration, look for example at the composition and the colors of the facades!).
(Picture from:

In the south part of the church lays the sarcophagus with the remains of Czar Dusan. Its remains were brought here from St. Michael the Archangel Monastery near Prizren (Kosovo and Metohija).
One of the biggest chandeliers known to the Christian world is located in this church, and it is the work of sculptor Dragutin Aleksić.
(Picture from

The Serbo-Byzantine style:
It's an architectural style from the beginning of 14th century (mostly used for sacral buildings) that melted byzantine elements with elements of the Raska School (a blend of eastern-byzantine style with western-roman influences developed in the 12th century by the Nemanjic dynasty).

(Picture from

St. Mark's Church is considered a monumentalist building that became a symbol for Belgrade. It's often associated with Serbian-Nationalistic architectural style.

Petar and Branko Krstic realized a couple of interesting buildings more:
The yugoslavian Pavillon on the worldfair in Philadelphia (1924-25)
The Milicevic-House in belgrade (1929-30)
The Jelinic-House in Begrade (1930-31)
Agrarian Bank Building (1932-1934) in Nicola Pasic Square in Belgrade (see post here)

May 19, 2009

"Televizorke" - Buildings in Belgrade

The trip from the Belgrade Airport to the city center goes through the middle of the district of 'Novi Beograd' (
New Belgrade). Facing the freeway that cuts across the residential area (an idea from the 60's) there are some interesting blocks.

Some of my favorites are the megablocks called "televizorke" (TV-sets) that got their name because of the television-shaped windows. They belong to Blok 28, and there are two of them and they are called "Sestica" and "Petica".

My husband and I on the 9th floor terrasse

Here are some very nice pictures from Robert Haynes (flickr) that shows how individually the single windows and appartments are decorated and make an interesting play.

Well, usually, such kind of blocks are associated with words like "heartless" and "ugly" but there is something about these blocks, probably their weirdness and their unique way to play with the facades, that gives them a friendly personality.

The project was made by Serbian architect Ilija Arnautović (born in 1924 in Nis, died January 2009).
His professional career started after the 2nd World War, in the period of establishment of Federal Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia and e
nded in the late eighties. He studied in Prague and now lives in Ljubljana. The "televizorke" were built from 1970 - 1974 with an intelligent skeleton assembling system called "Zezelj-type".

The system of industrial construction of buildings using prestressed concrete under the name IMS-Zezelj started to develop in 1957. The author is Prof. Branko Zezelj. The system was conceived as an open system of structural elements by which, honoring minimum rules, many buildings can be composed of different sizes, heights and purposes.

It's no surprise that Arnautović decided to use suc
h a system. His buildings and forms of the buildings are coming from thoughtful use of constructional principles, constructional techniques and materials.

Sketches from the architect,
a playful facade that hides
a straight rational project behind it

Novi Beograd was literally build in the sand.
A picture from the 70's.
The postwar period of general reconstruction, development and industrialization generated problems such as growth of the cities and huge lack of housing. As an answer to those problems, Ilija Arnautović focused on collective housing – he designed and built large housing complexes in Ljubljana, Kočevje, and later in Belgrade and Algiers.
His work is built upon deep understanding of the 'collective' and the 'individual'. So its buildings are highly rational but do not lack of a good living quality and a certain flexibility.
Two levels of parking,
either outside on groundlevel
or downlevel with single garage-boxes.

On the ground floors are stores and rooms for public use.
The entrances are all equiped with interphone with camera.
One downside: one lift for 44 apartments!

The view from a 9th floor apartment

And here some links:
My post about the future of Novi Beograd
Architect Ilija Arnautović on wikipedia
Residential project of Arnautović

May 14, 2009

Main Post Office in Belgrade

This building is an impressive project, that emphasize the architecture of Belgrade. In some academic circles, there is still some sadness about the fact, that the original modernist project (of the duo Picman/Baranji) was not realized, but that a russian architect (Vasilij Androsov) revised the project and relized the actual building. I like the monumental Androsov project better!

The Main Post Office on the corner of Takovska and King Aleksandar's Boulevard was built from 1935 to 1938 for two highest state institutions: the Main Post Office and the Postal Savings Bank.

At the time of the construction it was the largest and the most representative postal building in the whole Kingdom of Yugoslavia; when it was finished, apart from the Main Post Office and the Postal Savings Bank, it also housed other high-ranking state institutions: the Ministry of Postal Services, the Main Radio-telegraph, the Main Telegraph and the School of Postal Services.

The palace was built according to the design drawn in 1930 more precisely, the combination of modern design by architects Josip Pičman and Andreja Baranji and the subsequent modification of the facades in the spirit of academism following the idea of architect Vasilij Androsov.

the Picman/Baranji project

The modification of the modern concept of the floor plan of the building into representative aca
demic style was demanded from the top Yugoslav echelons specifically, by king Aleksandar Karadjordjević in person.
Such architectural concept, calling for representative and monumental character in public buildings, designed in the style of high academism, served as visual presentation of strength and prosperity of the new Yugoslav state and its capital, Belgrade.
the Androsov project

The pa
lace was envisaged as a free standing structure with facades covered with rustically worked stone blocks and one entrance from each of the streets surrounding it. A pronounced overhang divides the main façade into two unequal sections reflecting the inside functional division of the building.

The overhang serves
as the front of the building, emphasized with the main portal in the ground zone, with elongated Doric columns in the zone from the second to the fifth floor and a characteristic clock tower in the top zone.
The palace of the Postal Savings Bank, the Main Post Office and the Main Telegraph, as the principal institution of its kid in the
Kingdom of Yugoslavia, testifies to the development of postal services.
By its dominant position at the crossroads of two important city thoroughfares, in the immediate vicinity of the National Parliament House and the royal court complex, it presents a visual point of reference standing out in the central city zone.

By its monumental size and representative outer finish, the palace ranks among principal examples of academic architecture of Belgrade.

As the only work of profane character designed along the principles of academism the building also holds a special place in the creative opus of architect Vasilij Androsov.

Although it has not been constructed according to the first, modern concept of architect Pičman, the monumental design of the Main Post Office palace did manage to give the structure the desired representative character, which still plays an important role in the formation of the architectural appearance of the central city zone.

May 8, 2009

Aero Club Building in Belgrade

(photo Rascian at Skyscraper city)

This building at the corner of Uzun Mirkova 4 and Kralja Petra Prvog 36 was built between 1932 and 1934 by architect Vojin Simenovic (1900-1978).
Link The Aero Club (today
Air Force Society) is located in the part of the building with entrance on Uzun Mirkova Street. The gallery of Petar Dobrović (1890-1942), one of the most significant Yugoslav painters and founders of the Yugoslav modern art, is situated on the fourth floor, in the part of the building entered from Kralja Petra Street.

Historic picture of the building

This is one of the two significant works of Simeonovic (the other is the Nedeljkovic House, see picture below) that put him among the most important Serbian architects of the 20th century who by their originality and certain exploratory tendencies contributed to the richness and variety of architecture as well as to the formation of modern look and spirit of Belgrade.

Nedeljkovic House, the other
significant building by Simeonovic

All structures by Vojin Simeonović have floor construction of reinforced concrete, modern installations and facades covered with several types of artificial stone. In keeping with the prevailing practice in Belgrade architecture, the facade was the focus of attention, although the architect also took care regarding the functionality of space as well as decorative interior design.
Architect Vojin Simeonović developed personal style, a moderate, clear-cut variant of academic classicism and historism, without prominent eclectic me

Ground floor plan of Aero Club Building

However, some of his works exhibit elements and principles of European Art Deco style - a decorative variant of modernism. His architecture remained faithful to the ideal of aesthetic effect of architecture during the period of pure modernism in Belgrade architecture.

Simeonovic was also a pilot and
belonged to Belgrade elite, enjoying the respect of his colleagues and the favour of cultural circles.

Perspective Drawing of Aero Cub Building

In his work traditional treatment of bases and facades is predominant, which indicates that his commissioners were mostly conservative. Simeonović often applied stylized neo-classicism, that is, a certain academic repertoire, but with austere, measured and considered relation of elements. The architect reduced eclectic method of combining to a certain classicistic scheme after the model of European academic examples especially those of French noblemen' architecture, XVIII and XIX century castles and villas.

May 3, 2009

Museum of Aviation in Belgrade

Picture by Vlado Marinkovic

One of the really astonishing building, and maybe the first building you see when you arrive at Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport (here my post about the airport) is the Museum of Aviation.
I was fascinated by that building since the first time I discovered it and made pictures almost every time I arrived in Belgrade by plane (in fact some of the pictures I took are in my top 5 in Begrade list here).

This mushroom shaped location was designed by bosnian (with slovenian roots) architect Ivan Straus and opened in 1989. He studied in Zagreb (Croatia) and he realized mostly projects in Sarajevo (Bosnia & Herzegovina) where he was also employed in its architecture faculty.

A nicely made file about the museum building with pictures can be dowmnladed here (in serbian).

These pictures from opening time show how it looked without the big advertisement banner around the building...and don't ask me how they solved the "too much sunlight" problem....

From the building site

The museum from inside
I'm more interested in the building that in the planes, for more informations about the exhibited planes, the museum has a very informative site with the list and description of the machines and also with lots of nice pictures (where i got these last 3 pictures). Visit the site here.

The museum is right in front of the airport, if you wanna reach it by bus from old town, take bus 72 from "zeleni venac" station.