December 28, 2008

The Archangel Michael Cathedral in Begrade

The Cathedral as seen from Kneza Sime Markovica

Though the St. Sava Temple is the biggest sacral building in Belgrade there is a church, that made the Belgrade Skyline very typical with its baroque belltower: the Church of the Holy Archangel Michael (Saborna Crkva) on Kneza Sime Markovica.

The unique skyline of Belgrade's old city

The church was errected from 1837 to 1840 by order of prince Miloš Obrenović, according to the design and plans of Adam Fridrih Kverfeld, a builder from Pančevo,in a classical style with baroque elements. The interior is richly decorated.

The gold-plated carved iconostasis was made by the sculptor Dimitrije Petrović, while the icons on the iconostasis, thrones, choirs and pulpits, as well as those on the walls and arches were painted by Dimitrije Avramović, one of the most distinguished Serbian painters of the XIX century. The tombs of the Serbian sovereigns Miloš and Mihailo Obrenović are housed in the church. In the churchyard are buried two giants of Serbian culture - Dositej Obradović and Vuk Stefanović Karadžić. Also the relics of Serbian saints king Uroš and despot Stefan Štiljanović are housed in this church.

December 24, 2008

St.Sava Temple in Belgrade

The largest orthodox church building in the world is in Belgrade, it’s the St.Sava’s Temple (Hram Svetog Save) situated in the Vracar District. The church holds a dominant position in Belgrade's cityscape and is visible from all approaches to the city. Indeed its place is well choosen, as it finishes the line of landmarks kalamegdan (the city fortress)-trg republike (the main square)-beogradjanka (the tower building)-slavija circle (a main juncition) and the Svetosavski Trg with the Temple. Here a picture of the church taken from our terrasse in Novi Beograd. The construction preparations have lasted for a very long time, ever since 1894 and until now the construction was financed only by dionations. In 1905 a architectural competition was launched, but all 3 aplications were rejected as judged not good enough for such an important building. At an open competition in 1926 the architectural design of Bogdan Nestorović was selected among the 22 entries, with later incorporation of several elements of the project of another architect: Aleksandar Deroko. Construction was interrupted by German attacks on Yugoslavia on April 6, 1941. It was not until the summer 1984 that the state permission was obtained to continue the construction works, so on April 30, 1985, the temple, thorn by war and human negligence, was conscrated again. The works were directed by Branko Pešić, an architect and university professor. The interior is far from being finished. Here a picture I made in 2005, I was pretty surprised to find some trucks inside the church. Here current pictures from the main website of the temple, but still a lot of works needs to be done.

In 2004 an open town planning and architectural design competition was held, and I would like to mention the entry from ARCSV that proposes an interesting aproach illuminating the temple from a skyscraper.

December 5, 2008

Dragiša Brašovan - Modern Architecture in Serbia

Dragiša Brašovan (1887-1965) is considered as the one who introduced Modern Architecture in the Balkans. He studied in Budapest and after working for 6 years in Budapest in 1920 he founded an architecture firm in Belgrade with Milan Sekulić (this lasted until 1225 after that he went on on its own). After 1945 he worked for state commissions.

Until 1929 he made projects in an eclectic style that was popular between the two World Wars. Around this time he made:
- Rabatt-Bank, ulica Nušićeva 4, Belgrade 1921-23
- Genčić-Villa, ulica Proleterskih brigada 55, Belgrade 1929

- Škarkin-Villa, ulica Deligradskoj 12, Belgrade 1927-29

After 1929 he started modern style architecture and joined the group " Arhitekata modernog pravca". However he was not a strictly functionalist architect (like most of the modern architects), in the modern language of his buildings there was always some place for decoration or expressionistic elements in his works.

The printing company earlier and today

One outstanding work of this time is the Zgrada Državne štamparije (today called BIGZ) projected and build between1934-1941
, bulevar Vojvode Mišić 17 in Belgrade the former state printing company.

Some works that got im international recognition where the yugoslavian Pavillons for the World Trade Fairs and International Exhibitions. 1929 in Barcelona (for that he got the big Architectural prize) 1931 in Milano, 1932 in Thessaloniki, 1953 in Damascus and Izmir.

Two extraordinary edifices signed by this architect
were the victims of NATO bombings in 1999.

Komanda Vazduhoplovstva (Yugoslavian Airforces Headquarter) in Zemun of 1939 (together with the sculpture of Icarus on the front - a masterpiece of Novi Sad's sculptor Karlo Baranji). The building was totally destroyed.(I wrote about it here)

Zgrada Dunavske banovine (today Izvršno veće Vojvodine, in english Building of Executive Council of Vojvodina Province (Banovina) of 1939 in Novi Sad that is listed in all world architectural cyclopedias, under the protection of UNESCO as an valuable art heritage, was bombed in the night of April 19, 1999. (I wrote about it here)

After 1945 he made a couple of bulidings in socio-realism style, where he combined modern style with ethnic and monumental elements.

The most famous is probably Hotel "Metropol" in Bulevar Kralja Aleksandra in Belgrade, a building from 1953.
The Hotel before renovation

The Hotel is currently undergoing extensive restauration and refurbishment, and is anticipated to be reopened in May 2009.

Visualisation of the project

Other Works:

Zgrada Srpske banke (Bank Building), renovation ca.1920 in Zrenjanin

(Photos from Alex_ZR on Skyscrapercity)

Crkva Vavedenja Bogorodice (Church), 1924-1927 in Orlovat

Sokolski dom, 1927 in Zrenjanin

(Photo from Alex_ZR on Skyscrapercity)

Radnička komora
(Work Chamber), 1931 in Novi Sad

Zgrada Muzeja Nikole Tesle (Nikola Tesla Museum Building) 1932, in Belgrade

Residence in Ulica Francuska 5 in Belgrade, build in the 30's
Residence in Bulevar Oslobođenja 2, in Belgrade, build in the 30's

Residence in Bulevar Despota Stefana 8 in Belgrade, build in the 30's

One of the 30's building in Belgrade
by Dragisa Brasovan
(Photo Rascian at Skyscarapercity)

Residence Blocks for Fabrike Kablova Svetozarevo in Jagodina, build in the 50's Glavna pošta (Main Post Office) in Novi Sad, 1961

Brasovan died in 1965 in Belgrade. He was a pen pal member of Serbian Academy of Science and Arts and a member of British Royal Institute of Architecture. He left a print as one of the most famous Serbian architects of the century, distinguished connoisseur of the age of baroque and introduced modern style architecture to the Balkans.

November 28, 2008

Terazije Plateau in Begrade

View from Terazije over to Novi Beograd

Terazije is often perceived as the center of Belgrade, with some attractive building (the Palata Albania and Hotel Moskva) and the old fountain (Terazijska cesma) in the front of the Moskva Hotel. From there is an excellent natural lookout point to the Sava river valley, Novi Beograd and further into the Syrmia region.

But what lays between it, at the moment is not very attractive: a ungroomed terraced wast area located between the upper plateau (balkanska street) and the lower plateau (kraljice natalije).

With some effort it could be an attractive trail to the Zeleni Venac pijaca (Market).

The configuaration of the terrace is a subject of public and academic debate ever since the 19th century. A first general plan for it is from 1912 by French architect Alban Chamond which envisioned it as cascades of trapezoid "piazzetas" with flowers and fountains, leaving the panoramic view intact.

The Nikola Dobrovic proposal of 1929

In 1929, Serbian architect Nikola Dobrović (who after World War II became Director of the Institute for Urbanism and, in 1948, a professor at the Architectural Faculty at the University of Belgrade) suggested two tall business buildings on the both ends of the ridge and a plateau between with several small business and leisure objects, while the slope itself would be a succession of horizontal gardens, pools and fountains.
His plans were a little ahead of the time....immagine how it would look now?

In 2006 Belgrade Land Development Public Agency invited for proposals in a architectural and urbanistic competition.

The Studio ARCVS entry

The shared first price went to "Studio ARCVS" (Partners Dragan Ivanovic, Zoran Djorovic and Branislav Redzic) and to "react" (competition: Dejan Milanovic, Grozdana Sisovic
, creative team:
Ivica Nikolic, Srdjan Tadic, design project:
Dejan Milanovic, Grozdana Sisovic,
Tanja Bajic)
After a new re-evaluation the "re:act" project was proclaimed winner of the competition in march of 2007.

The re:act entry

The re:act project took some of the concept of Dobrovic's proposal, framing the terrassed square with buildings (however low ones) and leaving an empty space in the center. Dobrovic further placed two tower-buildings left and right from the look out point, what the re:act-team replaced with two light pillars that illuminate the terrace.

The ARCVS approach was with a geomatrical arrangement of a low building and wide stairs following the straight building on the bakanska street side and with a loose set-up of trees and trails following the curvated side on prizrenska street but also without cloudying the view from the top.

November 23, 2008

Balkanology in Switzerland

Picture: Tom Bisig, Basel

Saturday I visited the Balkanology Exhibition in the Swiss Architecture Museum (SAM). A very nicely done exhibition that shows projects in pictures and films and probably it's the first time that an exhibition is dedicated to the Balkan region (reduced to Jugoslavia and Albania) in Switzerland. Here the press release.

What I liked, it's that an exhibition of this little-known architecture was presented to a broad audience here in Switzerland and it gives good explanation about the socio-poilitical changes in the region and their impact on the architecture.

From architectural masteripieces of the past with "iconic" effect like: The Museum of Modern Art in New Belgrade, 1965 (Ivan Antić und Ivanka Raspopović), The Federal Ministry of Defence in Belgrade, 1963 (Nikola Dobrović), the National Library in Pristina, 1983 (Andrija Mutnjaković) or the Yugoslavian Pavillion in the World Exhibition in Brussel of 1958 (Vjenceslav Richter) to new projects that are about to be realized like: The reconstruction of the Usce Tower in New Belgrade, 2006 (Slavija biro and ARCVS), A Media Center for Novi Sad, 2007 (Srdjan Jovanović Weiss / NAO) or the new proposal for the terazije Plateau, 2010 (Re:act), the exhibition covers a lot of outstanding buildings.
(The buildings above are already covered or will be soon covered on this blog, that's why I mentioned these)

Another part of the exhibition is dedicated to Urbanist Studies: of Belgrade (from Dubravka Sekulić und Ivan Kucina), of Zagreb (from Platforma 9,81) and of Prishtina (from Archis Interventions) and to Urbanist Interventions: of Tirana (Co-Plan) and Kotor (EXPEDITIO).

What I didn't like so much about this "Balkanology" is, that from several points of few, it ends up always to the same conclusion, that the Balkan Region can get rid of its "negative image" and its problems by adopting more of a Western approach of planning and to learn to be avare of the devastation of environment by inadequate building.
Is this environment adequate behavior?

On one side it's pretty ridiculous, to pretend that for instance a country that got bombed and some of its most significant buildings got destroyed should understand the meaning of "environment adequate behavior" and on the other side, it's questionable if the "balkan"-image is really just a negative identity that needs to be broken down.
random improvisation (from LHE)

Isn't the diversity, the exotism and the improvisation that comes with the "balkan" word even an advantage that could make a brand, the "balkan brand", an instrument to give this region an identity back, a positiv fascinating identity, without necessarily using Western benchmarks ?!

November 19, 2008

Užice - The Serbian Hong Kong

Užice is like the little Hong Kong of Serbia (here in some fantastic pictures of Pedrag Supurovic), you wouldn't really expect such a city when you start to go up the mountain region of the Zlatibor district. From here it's agood starting point point to visit some of the most exiting places of Western Serbia: Tara National Park, Zlatibor, Mokra Gora and the Kusturica Village of Drvengrad.

Located at the river of the Djetinja River, Užice has about 60'000 habitants and a florishing textile and metallurgy indutry, since the city started to developing an indutrial town at the end of the 19th century.

It's also the first serbian city with a hydroelectric power plant. Within the former Yugoslavia (established after the Second world War), Užice was renamed "Titovo Užice". From 1992, following the collapse of the pro-communist administration, "Titovo" was removed, leaving the original city name Užice.
Because it was Tito's city and had an important plac
e during the communist system, Užice received significant amounts of investments in infrastructure and local factories, which turned the city among highly developed ones of its size in former Yugoslavia.
This is probably also the reason, why it has many skyscrapers and for the summer there is a quite interesting beach "plaza".
During the 1990s Užice's economy performed very bad due to economic conditions (war, political instability, sanctions) and in 1999 the city was bombed multiple times during the NATO bombing.

Today, industry is the heart of the Užice municipality economic development. The most developed industrial branches are non-ferrous metallurgy, metal working and textile industries.
This "Textil's" commercial building that is located in Uzice's industrial zone, between the motorway, the railway, warehouses, a football field and a cemetery is a new building made by the group "NEO Arhitekti".
The architects delivered what they themselves describe as 'anti-design' in reaction to the surroundings and context. Ignoring all those external factors they are powerless to change, they concentrated on the interior.
The result is a building with an interesting perforated façade that reveals nothing of the very effi
cient spatial organization inside.

Maybe the suuroundings of the industrial zone is not very inspiring, but the center of Užice is very interesting.

Like this rocket-shaped building
which is an incredible eye-catcher!

And this H- shaped construction!
(picture by Ivan Micovic