May 27, 2010

Zvezdara Observatory - the first Modernism Monument in Belgrade

When Swiss architect Le Corbusier visited Belgrade in 1911 during his travels across Europe, he dismissed the city calling it “ridiculous capital, worse even: a dishonest city, dirty, and disorganized.” and in a 1955 he commented on pictures of Belgrade’s most outstanding buildings: “Good God, how ugly!” He blamed Belgrade's modern architects of "superficial understanding of modern urban planning".
I can not really agree with him (and I was tortured with Le Corbusier's works my entire course of studies at the ETH Zurich) and I'd like to show this masterpiece of modern architecture that is considered the first monument of Modernism in Belgrade: the Zvezdara Observatory designed by Jan Dubovy (1892-1969) built in the early 1930's.
Following Le Corbusiers citation: "soleil, espace, verdure" (architecture needs sun, clearance and greenery) Dubovy planned the observatory buildings as a loose composition of pavillions settled in a park. Each single building is designed with great attention to make it unique yet is related to the others. In the design he paid much attention on strict functionality (some extremely valuable optical and precision astronomical instruments had to find place in some of the buildings) and a simple modern form. 

The building when it was built
(picture from the zvezdarskasuma.blogspot)
The building today
(picture from the zvezdarskasuma.blogspot)
The construction is logical and pragmatic:A brickwork construction with structural elements in reinforced concrete and domes in steel, wood lining on the inside and sheet metal covering the outside surfaces.

Here the front side of the main building as it looks today
(picture from the Observatory website)

And here the back side of the main building
(picture from the Observatory website)
The Observatory in on Zvezdara Hill

Volgina 7, 
P.O.Box 74 
11060 Belgrade, Serbia
tel. +381-(0)11-3088-062 / 3088-073 / 2419-357   
fax. +381-(0)11-2419-553


  1. Hi very interesting your explanation

  2. The buildings are very different...funny how people sometimes don't like something that is outside of the box thinking.

    Great post!

  3. Great post, tnx for sharing!

  4. Corbusier was correct in his analysis.