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dc.creatorKadijević, Aleksandar
dc.description.abstractThis paper analyzes three notable Modernist architectural projects by Vjekoslav Mursec, Hugo Ehrlich and Ernest Weissmann built in central Belgrade in the late 1920s and mid 1930s: Palaviccini's single-family house, the Yugoslav United Bank and the Journalists' Association building. The interpolation of these buildings into the existing city blocks provided a powerful stimulus to the development of new architectural concepts in Belgrade. A rapid pace of population growth in the Yugoslav capital (from 90.000 inhabitants in 1919 to 350.000 in 1939) had an impact on its architectural and urban transformation supported by foreign capital and educated professionals. From an underdeveloped and "neglected" (as Le Corbusier critically spoke of it in 1913) small oriental town, which in the last 25 years of the 19th century quickly acquired a distinctly European flavour, Belgrade grew after the First World War into a representative capital of a multinational kingdom. Although long blocks of residential and office buildings for rent provided ample opportunity to adopt and promote innovative architectural methods, this process was slowed down due to the conservative social environment. It was not until the late 1920s that a major breakthrough came with the Croatian architects who followed modernist tendencies. The first buildings interpolated into the existing city blocks with the aim to modernize them were the Palaviccini's single-family house with the studio designed by Vjekoslav Mursec, the Yugoslav United Bank designed by Hugo Ehrlich (1929-30), and the Journalists Association building (1934-35) designed by Ernest Weissmann in the mid 1930s which rounded off this innovative series. Besides the fact that these realizations were conceptually progressive within the entire architectural production of their authors, they also gave the Serbian architects a powerful incentive to more firmly embrace the new architectural principles. An unrivalled example of the collaboration between the Croatian and Czech builders in Belgrade between the two world wars was the single-family house with a garden (1928-29), owned by the renowned Yugoslav sculptor Petar Palaviccini (1887-1958), built on his estate at 6, Teodosijeva st. (today Jelena Cetkovit street). This rather unobtrusive two-storey house with a pitched roof, built on the fringe of what was the town centre at the time, completed a small square called Kopitareva gradina. Inspired by functionalism in central European architecture, the architect applied the modernist principles in his design and thus made an innovative step in the context of the local architectural milieu. Typologically, this house belongs to the first single-family houses with studios in Belgrade whose designs were based on modern architectural principles, along with Zlokovic's own house in Kotez Neimar. Palaviccini's house with a studio is one of the earliest examples of Belgrade's modern architecture whose principles gradually prevailed in the design of interpolated buildings, corner buildings and villas despite their slow reception within the local professional circles. Described in the press as "a cubist house" or "a reddish modern villa" (owing to its expressive face brick) in the early 1930s, it received much-deserved public attention in professional circles. The early modernist period of Belgrade architecture lagged behind the Zagreb architectural scene. It was primarily marked by the headquarters of the Yugoslav United bank (1929-30) designed by the prolific architect Hugo Ehrlich. Its height made it stand out among the surrounding Historicist buildings. A purified aesthetic quality of both its exterior and interior proved to be a major impetus towards the redesign of the central city blocks. As the first modernist intrusion into a traditional ambience of King Petar street, it paved the way to similar projects in the wider city area. This successful project became over time a symbol of Belgrade's multi-cultural identity. As an office building, the bank typologically stands apart from the rest of Ehrlich's works. It is composed of a sequence of three cubic volumes with flat roofs and takes up the area of two streets with its front at 21, King Petar street and its back facade in the parallel street (at 19, Rajiceva St.) The streets are linked with a courtyard comprising the taller four-storey segment and a lower single-storey one. After the city authorities had required a redesign of the initial project from 1929, Ehrlich added the fourth floor with the arched niches above windows thus keeping level the horizontal elements of the composition with the vertical ones. The bank teller hall on the ground-floor is a representative example of a truly functional interior which was conceptually based on the most modern architectural principles of the period. The building was accessed from the entrance hall. The glass wall enclosed the passage which led into a hall divided into three parts. The central part designed for communication with the clients was naturally lit through a glazed skylight supported by eight slender reinforced concrete columns. Between them were glazed counters with nickel posts and marble bottom parts. The centrally-placed Marcel Breuer's chairs made of tubular steel and leather clearly show the architect's loyalty to International Modern Style. The new Journalists Association building, which was the result of Weissmann's collaboration with the Belgrade section of the Yugoslav Journalists Association (1931-35), was only a part of an ambitious original program aimed at achieving greater height within the blocks. The functionalist treatment of the building's exterior with transparent structural elements visually changed its immediate traditional surroundings. In conclusion, it may be stated that it was actually Ehrlich's bank which, in contrast to Mursec's two storey unobtrusive interpolation, gave a fresh reformatory impetus towards the redesign of the Belgrade's central zone. This innovative public building built on a prestigious site, motivated a radical revision of its wider surroundings. However, due to adverse circumstances and intrusions built with no sense for an appropriate scale, this building became, after three and a half decades of its dominance, "the victim" of the same reformatory process it had once initiated and was overshadowed by an oversized late functionalist neighbouring building. The international principles of modern architecture were fully applied on Weissmann's building which really marked the peak of the city block redesign process. Each of the three buildings analyzed in this paper is structurally different and has a different role within the urban-planning context. However, it is not an overstatement to say that all three of them can be seen as a major breakthrough on Belgrade's modern architectural scene considering the context of the period when they were built and their functional typology and for this reason they have remained for decades the focus of interest within the professional circles.en
dc.publisherUniv Zagreb Fac Architecture, Zagreb
dc.subjectEHRLICH, HUGOen
dc.titleThree inspirational modernist realizations by Croatian architects in Belgrade (1928-1935)en
dc.citation.other22(2): 269-278

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