Friday, January 9, 2009


New Architecture and Urban Phenomena
in South Eastern Europe

In the western Balkans, the collapse of the socialist economic system in Yugoslavia and Albania has given rise to extensive informal building activity that represents a new form of urbanisation. The question is: how far do such urban transformations indicate patterns of future development for European cities in general? The exhibition uses examples from projects in Belgrade, Zagreb, Kotor, Prishtina and Tirana to illustrate the way architects, artists, urbanists and activists are dealing with these rapid new transformation processes. The outstanding yet hardly known buildings of socialist modernism in Yugoslavia are compared and contrasted with contemporary architecture.

»Balkanology« opens a new field of architectural discourse in Switzerland —the little-known architecture of the post-socialist period and the result of unregulated, uncontrolled urban planning in the countries of South Eastern Europe. The exhibition focuses on the impact of recent socio-political changes on architecture and urban planning.

The situation in South Eastern Europe is prototypical for urban development in transitional and post-conflict situations, from Prishtina to Belgrade, where weak or missing institutional structures make it impossible to achieve the regulation of construction processes. The wild, volatile spread of informal building structures is the aftermath of the kind of urban crisis that follows social upheavals or wars. At the same time, independently of regional particularities, these urban developments display a new kind of urban form that is quite different from informal settlements in countries outside Europe. Their specific forms result from a new intermeshing of spaces through visual worlds communicated by the media, migratory movements and cash flows.

»Balkanology« brings together leading architects and urban planners from South Eastern Europe and shows their approaches to these fundamental urban transformations. The exhibition will show the cultural, social and political dimensions of the urban phenomena of the region. The key question here is to what extent unregulated, informal urbanism develops new typologies and urban forms, and how these forms could also emerge under the banner of neo-liberal de-urbanisation in the rest of Europe.

The exhibition presents research projects and concrete interventions, architectural analyses and planning strategies. »Balkanology« deliberately avoids trying to achieve a picture of urban development that would be valid for the whole region. Instead, it uses selected examples from different locations to highlight specific local influences on architecture and urban construction, thus critically examining the potentialities for a re-qualification in urban planning.

Prishtina, 2008.

The term »Balkans« is generally synonymous with South Eastern Europe, a region with varying geographical definitions. This vague term for the area is a 19th-century invention. In the European, or Western European imaginary, the word »Balkan« stands for ambiguity, hybridity, or a state of transition; it is a concept that can be used positively or negatively. »Balkanology« goes beyond the clichés to draw a differentiated picture of urban development in the region and the forces that determine it.

Using selected examples, Maroje Mrduljaš, the editor of the Croatian architectural magazine Oris, and the Serbian architectural historian Vladimir Kulić will show how Yugoslavian architects and planners have tackled "modernity" and "internationality". Alongside chosen topics, the co-curators will set up an interrelation between historical and contemporary buildings and projects, and comment on them with reference to the phenomenon of "interrupted modernism" in Yugoslavia.

Curated by Kai Vöckler

Contemporary Architecture
Bevk – Perović arhitekti Housing Polje, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 2005/Studio Capsula Social Housing, Island of Cres, Croatia 2005/Robert Claiborne, Lia Ruccolo, Ivan Markov Museum of Contemporary Art, Project, Novi Sad, Serbia, 2007/OSNAP Architecture Consultancy Srebrenica Memorial, Potočari, Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina 2006/Marijan Hržić Eurotower, Zagreb, Croatia, 2008/Slavija biro and ARCVS Reconstruction Business Centre “Ušće” (formerly Building of Social and Political Organisations), Belgrade, Serbia, 2005/Srdjan Jovanović Weiss / NAO Stadium Culture – Centre for New Media and Recreation, Project, Novi Sad, Serbia, 2007/Iva Letilović & Morana Vlahović Social Housing, Krapinske Toplice, Croatia, 2003/Hrvoje Njirić Mini Housing Complex “... this familiar feeling”, Gračani near Zagreb, Croatia, 2007/Ofis arhitekti Extension and Renovation of the Ljubljana City Museum, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 2004/Helena Paver Njirić New Permanent Exhibition – Memorial Museum of the Jasenovac Memorial Area, Jasenovac, Croatia/
Goran Rako Archäologisches Museum Narona, Vid near Metković, Croatia, 2007/Randić-Turato Arhitektonski Biro Primary School Fran Krsto Frankopan, Island of Krk, Croatia, 2005/Re:act Terazije Terraces, Belgrade, Serbia, 2010/SCArS City Trade Centre Update, Skopje, Macedonia 2008/Hosoya Schaefer Architects Šmartinska Partnership Masterplan, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 2008/Studio UP High School and Polyvalent Hall, Koprivnica, Croatia, 2007/Sadar Vuga Arhitekti Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 1999/Studio za arhitekturu - Igor Franić Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb, Croatia, 2009/

Modern Architecture
Ivan Antić and Ivanka Raspopović Museum of Contemporary Art, New Belgrade, Serbia, 1965/Vojnin Bakić (Sculpture), Berislav Šerbetić (Architecture)Monument, Petrova Gora, Croatia, 1981/Bogdan Bogdanović Partisan Cemetery, Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1965/Bogdan Bogdanović Jasenovac Memorial, Jasenovac, Croatia, 1966/
Nikola Dobrović Grandhotel, Lopud, Croatia, 1936/Nikola Dobrović Ministry of Defense and Headquarters of Yugoslav People’s Army, Belgrade, Serbia, 1963/Drago Galić
Apartment Buildings, Zagreb, Croatia, 1954/Mihailo Janković Federal Executive Council (Federal Government), New Belgrade, Serbia, 1962/Studio 71 Opera and Ballet, Skopje, Macedonia, 1981/Milorad Macura Apartment Building, Belgrade, Serbia, 1956/
Boris Magaš, Edo Šmidihen, Radovan Horvat Museum of Revolution (today Historical Museum), Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1963/Edo Mihevc Commercial and Apartment Building Kozolec, Ljubljana, Slowenia, 1957/Andrija Mutnjaković National and University Library, Prishtina, Kosovo, 1983/Juraj Neidhardt Apartment Buildings, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1958/Kazimir Ostrogović City Hall, Zagreb, Croatia, 1956/Jože Plečnik National and University Library, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 1940/Edvard Ravnikar Memorial Complex, Kampor, Island of Rab, Croatia, 1953/
Vjenceslav Richter Pavilion of Yugoslavia at the Expo, Brussels, Belgium, 1958/Vladimir Turina Flexible Swimming Pool, Project, Rijeka, Croatia, 1949/
Zlatko Ugljen Sherefudin’s White Mosque, Visoko, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1980
Ivan Vitić The Cultural Centre of the Yugoslav People’s Army (today: Public Library), Šibenik, Croatia 1961