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Title: New Belgrade - between utopia and pragmatism
Tutor: Cherubini, Roberto
Keywords: capital city, socialist modernism, functional city, unfinished
Issue Date: 11-Dec-2014
Abstract: The research explores how modern architecture responded to the political and ideological demands in former Yugoslavia, and how it has shaped the urban territory of newly formed city of New Belgrade. New Belgrade was conceived as a new capital city of Yugoslavia, in the second half of the 20th century – on an empty field between two important regional cities - Belgrade and Zemun. Historically speaking, this empty flood plain functioned as a border and sanitary cordon, which was supervised and controlled as a “no-contact” zone between Belgrade, as the ultimate point of the Orient and the town of Zemun, a small but yet important Austro-Hungarian port on the Danube. From the very beginning planned as a modern city, it’s one of the early realizations of a modern city in the world in general and the unique example of a modern city on a large area - not in the periphery but in the city center, between two historic cores. With its significant size and vastness (over 40 sq km and a population of about 250,000), grand boulevards and massive buildings grouped into numerically marked blocks, it’s a mixture of a modernist vision and a socialist planning, far larger than any comparable urban district in Central and Eastern European cities. Once emerged from the »conflict between the two dominant ideologies of the postwar period: the modernist, or CIAM’s dogma of functional city and political, Marxist – socialist dogma, in the context of the ruling system« (Blagojevic, 2004) – today, after complete change of paradigm, is heading again towards a very dynamic and rapid construction. However, although recognized as a place of potential new development, the lack of critical review, evaluation and long-term strategies threatens its structure to be, to a certain extent, perceived only as a physical residue of the previous system, or as its ideological monument. Despite the occasional interest of the critics and the press, international mapping and interpretation of modern architecture in Yugoslavia and New Belgrade was almost completely overlooked. On the other hand, after the traumatic collapse of the Federation and repeated search for its lost identity local critics left New Belgrade without proper review, evaluation or even exact findings about its history. The general tendency of moving towards liberal capitalism creates, we might say, an a priori hostile environment towards a socialist period and its legacy, once again trying to ignore history. Therefore, this thesis is an attempt to reconstruct not only the history of construction of New Belgrade but also its meaning and its place in the international map of modernism.
Research interests: Regeneration of urban tissue. Strategies and methodologies of urban development.

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