February 27, 2008

Palata Albanija in Belgrade

The Albanija Building on Terazije was build in 1938 -1940 by Miladin Prljevic and Djordje Lazarevic (based on a Project by Branko Bon and Milan Grakalic) and was not only the first business tower in Belgrade but the highest building in the balkan before WW II.

Until 1895 the buildings at Terazije were mainly single and double-storied, major changes started in 1911 when the place was completely re-arranged. By the time the Albania Building was errected, big communist style building were constructed all around forming Marx and Engels Square (today Nikola Pasic Square) and changing the appereance of Terazije. The name "Albanija" was taken from the Kafana (Tavern) that used to be on its site. It was quite a popular place and old belgradians were not amused when it was demolished in October 17, 1936.

In 1938 Hipotekarna Banka started a competition for a business building. They required a "monumental object reguarding shape, quality and brightness and it should represent an unique place." In the jury were significant architects of that time. Insted of the first place of the competition, the 3rd place (Project by Branko Bon and Milan Grakalic) was chosen to be build (out of 84 participants).

The reason was that Hipotekarna Banka - the sponsor of the competition and owner of the land - liked that project best. They added one more floor, one more elevator, one more entrance on Kolarceva Ulica and had it build by Miladin Prljevic and Djordje Lazarevic.

An old picture from 1933 that shows the old Kafana "Albanija"

February 23, 2008

Peaceful Serbians in Zurich

This afternoon the Serbs of Zurich met in a peaceful meeting to show their emotions about the illegal indipendence of Kosovo.
In a speech they asked the swiss executive authority to think twice before accepting this phantom-state called Kosovo.
The Serbs arrived in decorated cars, celebrated with Trubaci, prayers and swinging flags.

Banovina Building in Novi Sad

Also this post is dedicated to the big Serbian architect Dragisa Brasovan (see details here) and also this extraordinary building signed by this architect was the victims of NATO bombing! The Building of Executive Council of Vojvodina Province (Banovina), completed in 1939, probably the most famous work of Dragisa Brasovan, is listed in most world architectural encyclopedias and under the protection of UNESCO as an valuable art heritage. Brasovan had a romatic understanding of modern achitecture and didn't dogmatically followed the clean and sober lines of International Style (a major architectural style of the 1920s and 1930s that refered to buildings of the decades of Modernism).

The building is shaped like a huge Danube river barge. Originally (after the architect idea) planned to be build in red brick, one of the momentan rulers (eleven of them in twelve years) decided to have it in white marble.

It was bombed by NATO in the night of April 19, 1999.

February 19, 2008

NATO TARGET Air Force Headquarter in Zemun

This and the next post are dedicated to the big Serbian architect Dragisa Brasovan (May 25, 1887 - October 6, 1965). He was one of those who introduced Modern Architecture in the Balkan.

Two extraordinary edifices signed by this architect were the victims of NATO bombing!
During the bombing of Serbian towns, many examples of urban sacral and civil architecture from the 18th to 20th century period were severely damaged. These buildings represented significant architectural, urban and cultural monuments, built not only by Serbian citizens and institutions, but by all national entities (Albanians, Turks, Moslems, Jews etc).

The monumental Headquarters building in Zemun was built in 1935.

This unique building expresses Brasovan's poetical, romantic understanding of modern architecture and is a good example of expressionism (a modernist adoption of new materials to express forms and emotions) in Serbian architecture.

According to the architect, the building resembles a dual of "Roda" fighter jets with its two wings and indented middle section.

It's difficult to take pictures of the military buildings in Belgrade because it happens often that officers chase you away and cofiscate your pictures. Thanks to the persistence of Peter from Ostarchitektur I can show two beautiful pictures!

NATO Bombing: On April 5th 1999, the building was hit and severely damaged.
(Picture RTS-Radio Television of Serbia)

February 17, 2008

Hotel Moskva in Belgrade

One of the buildings that surely strikes your attention when you cross Terazije is the old Hotel Moskva with its ceramic tiles facades and the two green towers with that hold the "Hotel Moskva" sign. It was designed in 1906 by Jovan Ilkic and opened its door in 1908 with participation of King Petar I Karadjordjevic. Before in that place was a simple inn namend "Velika Srbija".

In that time Belgrade (and specially Terazije) was undergoing a lot of modern changes, and the Secessionist style (a new style that owed nothing to historical influence and followed the iconoclastic spirit of turn-of-the-century Vienna) of the Hotel Moskva was a big novelty. Originally build with 36 rooms, today it has 132 rooms (of those 40 duplex rooms and 6 suites)

The inside pastry shop is very pretty and serves a cake named after the Hotel: the moskva šnit.The Hotel Moskva was placed under governmental protection.

In front of Hotel Moskva is an excellent lookout point to the Sava river valley, Novi Beograd and further into the Syrmia region.

See Hotel Moskva by night on point 4) of this post.

February 14, 2008

Beogradjanka Building in Belgrade

The Beogradjanka-Building (corner Kralja Milana and Masarikova) was built 1969 - 1974 by Branko Pesic (who was also chief architect of Saint Sava Church) A trapezoid base of 4 storeys is occupied by "Beograd" department store and a Chrysler Showroom is located in the ground floor.

The 24 floors in the tower are mainly headoffices and media studios (Studio B, Kosava TV and still some offices of Blic). Until 1990 there was a panorama restaurant on the top floor, later it has been closed for security reasons. There are some plans to renovate the building and to re-open the restaurant. The copper-panel and glass facade looks brownish in day and whitish in night.

February 4, 2008

SIV Building in Belgrade

One of the first buildings errected in Novi Beograd was the Palata Federacije (also called SIV for Savezno izvršno veće) wich is one of the most astonishing buildings of Serbia. After the terrain was evenly covered with sand from the Sava and the Danube rivers in an effort to dry out the land and raise it above the reach of flooding , construction started in 1947 and went through 1954. The building was designed by an architectural team from Zagreb: Vladimir Potočnjak, Zlatko Neumann, Anton Urlich and Dragica Perak. Actually the building was only completed in 1961 by belgradian architect Mihailo Jankovic, for the occasion of the first Conference of Non-Aligned Heads of State or Government. When it was designed New Belgrade had the symbolic function of a new capital city of the new Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia. Its concept follows the plans for radical modernisation and urbanisation of the country. So the project asked for a monumental and representativ architecure (that shows political power!). The style is related to the modernist architecture (elimination of ornaments and unnecessary details, rejection of historical styles, and adoption of expressed structure) but the strong symmetry and monumental stucture remind the classical style. Even if it's said that the SIV-Building represents the ultimate failure of the strategy of hegemony and centralisation, the overall impression has a captivating charme and surely doesn't get unnoticed! (on the street and on the map!) The building has been preserved and is in the list of cultural properties of the Cultural Heritage Preservation Institute of Belgrade , is currently unused and officially not open to the public. Howewer it was (for the first time) re-opened for Belgrade Design Week in 2007 where the conferences took place in the biggest auditorium "The Jugoslavija Salon". Here the reportage from cicciosax (burekeaters) a lucky guy who actually was there.
And here an old picture of the same saloon where at his golden time Tito met people like Jimmy Carter, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, Margaret Thatcher and Nicolae Ceauşescu.