March 23, 2010

NATO TARGET: Avala Tower finished!

11 years ago during the three month NATO bombing agression of Serbia the Mount Avala Tower was stupidly destroyed.
I write "stupidly" because Radio Television Serbia broadcasting did not suffer as it was relying on a network of local TV stations which were obliged to relay its program throughout the whole of Serbia. A special bomb was used to destroy the tower. The blast was one of the loudest explosions heard throughout Belgrade during the NATO bombardment.

All of the effort of the creators of this unique structure, which took five years to build (it was completed in 1965 with 4,000 tonnes of armored concrete and a 25-tonne 60-metre antenna) disappeared in just a few minutes. I made a post about the old tower here.

I followed on Beobuild how the re-construction was going on, and now after 3 years of works (but planning started in 2005) the tower is finished. The works were done by the workers of Ratko Mitrovic Dedinje Construction Firm (no, not my relative!).
Apart from the panoramic view and the restaurant covering 100 square metres at a height of 120 metres, there will be an additional 1,000 square metres of usable space for business and cultural activities at the foot of the tower.

 last works on the panorama-restaurant 
on top of the tower (pictures from beobuild)

 The reconstruction was suported by many artists, journalists and students, seeing it as a couragious act, in a continually economically challenged country like Serbia, but the symbolic act of raising such a tower was also the wish to show how pointless the NATO destruction was.

 The view from the tower 
(you see over Belgrade and over half of Sumadija)

But what was the reason for bombing Serbia (Yugoslavia) and why that focus on TV stations and antennas?
I'd like to share some interesting texts about it:

David Vs. Goliath: NATO Agression Against Serbia 




March 21, 2010

Serbia's Pavilions at World Exhibition 1900 in Paris

World Exhibitions have always been a great opportunity for a nation to get international exposure. Also for Serbia, the pavillons were a character of national presentation on the international stage, where the changing of paradigms were represented in the architecture of the pavillons.

Paris 1900 Exposition Universelle International
Serbia got a prominent location direct at the Seine river near the Pont de l'Alma and presented itself with a church-like pavillon in full Serbo-byzantine style (it almost looks like St. Mark's Church in Belgrade). It was a collection of national myths, a display of pre-ottoman grandeur, a journey in the past. It looked like a medieval serbian-orthodox monastery idealizing the image of the past.
But what was the reason for Belgrade architect Milan Kapetanovic (in collaboration with the ministry of construction architect Milorad Ruvidic), who never used that style in his architecture and would never has used it before, to produce such a project?

Interior of the Pavilion
Train-wagons full of domestic goods from Serbia 
were brought to Paris to be displayed in the pavillon

In that time Serbia was a monarchy, from 1815 to 1903 Serbia was ruled by the House of Obrenovic (except from 1842-58 when it was under the House of Karadjordevic) and Istanbul had finally recognized this monarchy (after ottoman had occupied the territory for a long time). In 1882 Serbia was raised to kingdom (under Milan Obrenovic) and was accepted from all the important powers of Europe. After ottoman occupation and finally a independent kingdom, it's not surprising, Serbia wanted to celebrate its roots a present a pavillon in the most typical Serbian style. 

March 15, 2010

Yugoslav Pavillon at Expo 58 in Brussels

Another interestign world-expo building from Yugoslavia was the crisp modern Pavillon of the  Expo’58 in Brussels. 
Vjenceslav Richter, an architect from Zagreb made the design (his cooperator Pavel Weber made the interiors) and the daring structure was planned by structure engineer Zvonko Springer.
(Credit for top photo:

  The model photos from the competition prospectus DIKSI 2 
by Vjenceslav Richer and Pavel Weber 
for the Yugoslav Pavilion on Brussels World Fair 1958.

Richter’s first intriguing idea was a 32m x 40m rectangular space attached to wire-cables to a center collumn. A daring project that asked for an extremly capable and creative structure engineer. 
By end of February 1957 Springer completed the preliminary structural design that included a rough calculation of quantities for the building materials for the pavilion. The static system was aproved by the commission, but the 4 cables that would hold the entire pavilion caused some concernes. Wind loads presented some headache to the commission and so the proposed structure of the model was turned down. It was suggested to support the pavilion in a more traditional way such as on an adequate number of steel columns.

The new design request did not present any major problem as the columns had to be placed more or less at the same position like the one of original hanging rods. It was agreed to rearrange the décor panels to enable hiding the vertical truss stiffener between two adjacent panels. These stiffeners provided the horizontal stability to the pavilion when subjected to horizontal loads.
That was the reason, why the pavilion in the end didn’t looked quiet like on the model!

A little before the exhibition opening Richter designed also a spezial column to be placed in front of the Yugoslav Pavillion, he wished it to be a sensation on the EXPO. It looked like three umbrella’s spoke bent making a bow each strung and fixed on a tendon of thin wire. Each bow was positioned at an angle of 120 degrees to each other and the ends were fixed to the sinew at the third of its length. This “form” was divided in a structure of 6 bows (one each for Yugoslavia’s republics) of a length of 7,5m each.

  At left the lifting hook holds the temporary assembled column 
and a worker checks column’s bearing joint 
on the “pear” support being the lowest structure’s element

The column being assembled on the floor

Springer solved also this daring static problem, with tiny bars holding the sinew at fixation point to the inner two bow’s pipes and painted these bars black so that would make them almost invisible once the “column” is erected in front of the pavilion.  

The Yugoslav pavilion at EXPO 1958 World Fair was renowned for its futuristic design.

Now this building is the best conserved of most EXPO buildings. It got a second life after the world exhibition closed, when it was dismounted, transported and reassambled to become a school building in Saint Paulus College at Wevelgem, Belgium.

More about the 58' Expo here 
Pictures from Zvonko Springer (structure engineer of the project)
and from  Monograph of Vjenceslav Richter, Editor Vera Horvat-Pintarić; Printed and Copyright by GRAFIČKI ZAVOD HRVATSKE, Zagreb 1970.

Here an interesting file to download!

March 10, 2010

Velika Remeta Monastery in Fruska Gora

 The monastery church is dedicated to St. Dimitri. Even if it's traditionally linked to king Dragutin (it's said, it's more probably founded at the end of the 15th, or in the first decades of the 16th century.)
1962 it was mentioned the first time under the name of Velika Remeta. Tursk destroyed part of the monastery in 1716.
The monastery church was built as a single-nave building with a dome and exonarthex, with a baroque bell-tower (with 38,6m the highest in the Fruska Gora region) added during renovation works between 1932-1735 by the brothers Andrija and Jakov Andrejević. 
Both, the exterior and interior were painted in 1567-68. Some fragments are preserved in the niches of the facade and in the altar.
The monks' quarters surrounding the church on four sides underwent renovation in the style with baroque bell-tower. 
The paintings on the iconostasis. which was dismantled during World War II have not been studied extensively. The iconostasis consisted of a set of icons varying in age, put together in 1850. The most important icons from the main tiere were done in 1687 by russian court drawers Leontije Stefanov, Joan Maksimov and Spiridon Grigorev.
After the damage caused to Velika Remeta in World War II (Ustashas occupied the monastery until spring of 1943 and brought all the treasuries to a museum in Zagreb).
The Monastery was renovated in 1982. 
(The pictures of this post are from Paolo Michelini's fantastic Fruska Gora album. )

March 6, 2010

Yugoslav Pavillon at Expo 67

Photo credit: © Bill Dutfield

In my last post I showed the Serbian Pavillon for the Expo in Shanghai 2010.World Exhibitions are always a good occasion to show off the best side of the country and the aspect of architecture representing a "nation" becomes very important and makes the choice very difficult. Serbia (who earlier participated under Yugoslavia) had always attractive well done Pavillons and always on the more modern edge of the other entries.

A very interesting one, is the Pavillon featured on the Expo 67 in Montreal. The Expo was already very forward, just think of the USA Pavillon designed by Buckminster Fuller or the Habitat 67 housing complex designed by architect Moshe Safdie.  So it was a challenge for Yugoslavia to be represented as a modern country. To compare: The Scandinavian Pavillon  , the Swiss Pavillon or the the Belgian Paviillon look kind of boring in compaire!

Photo credit: © National Archives of Canada

Here the description of the Pavillon from the Expo 67 site:
The Yugoslav Pavilion on Ile Notre-Dame close to the Expo-Express station presents Yugoslavs working for a democratic, prosperous society.
It endeavors to portray how, in the story of Man and his World (that was the main theme of the Expo), Yugoslavia has adopted the special role of a bridge among all countries of the world.
It relates a long and colorful history and ancient culture to the dynamic forward impetus of today.
There is music to match mood, and art displays including priceless national treasures and contemporary work. A section devoted to industry treats production not as an end but as a means for a free and democratic life.
The close ties that link Canada and the United States to Yugoslavia are remembered, a comradeship that spans two World Wars and years of peace.
The pavilion's theater shows feature films from Yugoslavia, documentaries and cartoons, live concerts and folklore programs by Yugoslav artists.
Yugoslav export goods are on display, and experts are ready to discuss business opportunities. Literature describing Yugoslavia is available.
Culture, the country's role in international affairs, economy and tourism, social system and government are principal theme subjects.
 Photo credit: © Commissioned by the Federal Corporation 
for Expo 67 and published by the Banque Nataionale de Paris.  

The Yugoslavian Pavilion is now located on the Marine Drive in Grand Bank, Newfoundland and has become part of the Provincial Seamen's Museum.