Page C3.1 . 21 July 2004                     
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Early Modernism in Serbia

by Ljiljana Blagojevic

Belgrade is an under-appreciated center of regional modernism of the 1920s and 1930s. This city played a role in the larger, international modernist movement but with a uniquely Serbian flavor. Sadly, many architectural examples from the period have been destroyed or altered beyond recognition, so photographic documentation remains an important preservation resource. Editor

Faced with the market reality, Serbian architects of the 1920s had to produce a "ready-to-wear" line. By and large, they developed individual strategies of gradual transformation and modernization alongside their continuing practice of historical or national styles.

Neither clients nor architects were ready for a radical change, and the first realized modern houses of the late twenties kept the interior of the bourgeois dwelling untouched, being modernized solely from without. Hybrids often substituted for authentic species, in the operative manner of the phantasmagoria of fashion.

Hybrid Architecture

The architecture of brothers Branko and Petar Krstic serves as the most illustrative example of this trend. Their design of the villa of barrister Milicevic (1929-1930) can be seen as the hybrid form of the transitional stage in the definition of the modern style.

The form of the villa is a simple cube set into the sloping terrain, appearing from the street as a single-story house with a raised ground floor and opening toward the garden with a full height of two levels. The duality is accentuated by the facade decoration in bold horizontal striping of the piano nobile, the quite elaborate design of the approaching footbridge and external stairs, and the front garden layout.   >>>

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This article is excerpted from Modernism in Serbia: The Elusive Margins of Belgrade Architecture, 1919-1941 by Ljiljana Blagojevic, with permission of the publisher, MIT Press, Inc.

 

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ArchWeek Image

Villa of Stevka Milicevic, Belgrade, 1929-1930 by Branko and Petar Krstic.
Image: Arhitektura, Ljubljana

ArchWeek Image

Ground floor plan and front elevation of Villa Vukosava, Belgrade, 1930-1931.
Image: Ljiljana Blagojevic

 

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