January 8, 2010

Church of St. Anthony of Padua in Belgrade

  Crkva Svetog Antuna (Rascian at Skyscrapercity)

This is not a typical building for Belgrade. The roman catholic church of St. Anthony of Padua (Црква светог Антуна) is however interesting for a couple facts.
First it reminds me of another, newer church in Belgrade, an orthodox church but with some familiarities: the Hram Sevotg Vasilija Ostroskog projected by Mihailo Mitrovic.
The composition (round building with free standing tower next to it) and the facade in red bricks make the two churches a bit similar.

Img. from Costruire in Laterizio (Rivista bimestrale,di Baio editore)

The church was built 1928-1932 by a project of the Slovenian architect Joze Plecnik (1872 - 1957) and the tower was added only in 1962. With the result, that the earth gave in a little after the tower was build, so it now leans (similar as the famous tower in Pisa) on one side. Just 45cm out of the center, but you can see it, specially when looking together at the tower and to near standing buildings.


The idea behind the project was, not to make a "rich" looking church, but to make it look like a piece of art. It was for Plecnik one of the first building that were not anymore in secession style, but can be seen as one of the first post-modern buildings.

 In the 60's the bell-tower was added

 Also in the facade he used new materials like the concrete circles. In the entrance and the inside he allowed some symbols and a few decorated pillars, but the outside was rather radical: a clean facade without any religious signs or symbols.


Plecnik felt that the  Belgrade of the 30's was a new city, where experiments were allowed. So he looked for a new language for this church.

Plecnik who studied with the famous Viennese architect and educator Otto Wagner and worked in Wagner's architecture office until 1900 was affiliated with the Viennese Secession, noted for its rejection of the decorative motifs of historic architecture in favor of a new, organic mode of ornament.
During the 20's and 30's Plecnik transformed Ljubljiana (National and University Library, Triple Bridge, Mutual Assurance Building) and was considered the Slovenian national architect.
Here the Plecnik Virtual Museum.

Plecnik's church is at the border of Vracar/Zvezdara district in a residential area.

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