February 20, 2010

Belgrade University Clinic for Children by Milan Zlokovic

This building was designed in 1933 by Milan Zlokovic and was then constructed in the years leading up to WW II, only to be seriously damaged in the bombardments of Belgrade. The clinic was renovated in the post war period, but then poorly maintained in the years to come. 
A building in pure modernist style, reflected Zlokovic's upbringing in Kotor Fjord in Montenegro: the building looks like a ship in departure. Zlokovic developed since childhood a deep understanding of the logic and rational of the ship's economy of space engineering and this was a central concept for his projects.

It was also this economic thinking that made him develop a modular system especially adapted for public building. The clinic's composition is a consequence of the requirements for the therapeutic wards, the character of the building is explained numerically as a function of a modular grid.

On the facades, the effect of the all-dominating module appears to result from the interplay of the plain surface and the standardized and serialized windows and openings.
The clinic is designed to be an "efficient machine for medical treatments" however Zlokovic found a good balance between active orientation toward machine technology and humanist principles of autonomy of artistic construction.

I was unpleasantly surprised to see newer pictures of the building (from the website of the clinic) and to see with how poor understanding of Zlokovic's intention the building was disfigured. On the top a steep-roof was built and where once were big windows reminding of a big boat, have been closed by walls.
 By closing open spaces and balconies, the buildings got a chunky look.
The address is Tirsova 10 and is not far away from Slavija Circle.

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