February 28, 2010

Serbia on expo2010 in Shanghai

On May 1st 2010 the world expo in Shanghai will open and Serbians are preparing what will be their first participation ever in an Expo since the disintegration of Yugoslavia.  
Each of the participating countries will build a pavillon to represent its culture.
The theme of the Serbian pavilion will be ”City Code”, showing how the traditional Serbian weaving of carpets (cilims) as a process  represents the symbiosis of old and new happening in Serbian cities. 
Eight components of the “City Code” which, through the quality of life of its population, define the vitality of the city will be symbolically presented or „weaved“ together inside the interior of the pavilion: the history of the development of the city, the culture of individuality, commerce, citizenship, the city’s lifestyle, urban ecosystems, art and technology and communications.

In the pavilion the idea of weaving is shown by comprising a network of wedges and cables upon which modules (called "srboblocks") made of metal, plastic or porcelain will be affixed. Inside there will be a ramp that will lead to the story of Serbian cities and the other elements of the exhibition. 

In the facade you see this texture showing 
patterns of traditional Serbian cilim carpets

The construction itself will use a model the process of weaving, merging and matching the modular parts into a whole marked and consumed by its unrepeatable code.

The selection of the system of construction represents an important decision in the process of pavilion building because it will depend on numerous factors, primarily the ease and practicality of the construction handling, or on the flexibility of the system in regards to additional construction and replacement using these modules. 

The architectural team behind this idea are Natalija Miodragovic and Darko Kovacev which founded in 2007 a creative network OPTIMISTI Zeleni zub - sustainable living in Almere, Netherland.

More informations are available on the Serbian website for the expo here:

It's still not clarified if the Kosovo region will be included inside the presentation, even if I expect Serbia to be clear about it and it would be normal to include it. Let's see then....!

February 20, 2010

Belgrade University Clinic for Children by Milan Zlokovic

This building was designed in 1933 by Milan Zlokovic and was then constructed in the years leading up to WW II, only to be seriously damaged in the bombardments of Belgrade. The clinic was renovated in the post war period, but then poorly maintained in the years to come. 
A building in pure modernist style, reflected Zlokovic's upbringing in Kotor Fjord in Montenegro: the building looks like a ship in departure. Zlokovic developed since childhood a deep understanding of the logic and rational of the ship's economy of space engineering and this was a central concept for his projects.

It was also this economic thinking that made him develop a modular system especially adapted for public building. The clinic's composition is a consequence of the requirements for the therapeutic wards, the character of the building is explained numerically as a function of a modular grid.

On the facades, the effect of the all-dominating module appears to result from the interplay of the plain surface and the standardized and serialized windows and openings.
The clinic is designed to be an "efficient machine for medical treatments" however Zlokovic found a good balance between active orientation toward machine technology and humanist principles of autonomy of artistic construction.

I was unpleasantly surprised to see newer pictures of the building (from the website of the clinic) and to see with how poor understanding of Zlokovic's intention the building was disfigured. On the top a steep-roof was built and where once were big windows reminding of a big boat, have been closed by walls.
 By closing open spaces and balconies, the buildings got a chunky look.
The address is Tirsova 10 and is not far away from Slavija Circle.

February 18, 2010

Monastery Novo Hopovo In Fruska Gora

 Novo Hopovo Monastery (Манастир Ново Хопово) was erected on the end of the 15th century by bishop Maksim (despot Djordje Brankovic). On some good preserved stones behind the west door of the temple some writings confirm that the church from 1576 is dedicated to saint Nikola. It's the oldest inscript in stone of entire Vojvodina (picture above from wiki.commons)

This monastery was one of the most important centers for Serbs in the 16th century along Dunav and Sava River. A lot of Serbian scholars came to Hopovo to learn to write and to read and to learn arabic and roman numbers.

Hopovo became also a main center for pilgrims, when the relics of Theodore of Amasea (Theodor Tiro) were found in 1555.

The painted walls of the interior (photo by Paolo)

The church was not all painted in the same time. The alter was decorated in 1608 by Hieromonachos Mitrofan. The freskoes of the narthex are from 1654. The freskoes but also the architecture are in style inspired by Sveta Gora (the region of Monut Athos) as Novo Hopovo hold a very tight alliance with Hilander Monastery and Sveta Gora.

The iconostasis is from 1776 and was painted by Teodor Kracun, one of the most significant painters of the second half of 18th century. In the monastery there was also an iconografic school led by Russians like Jov Vasilijevič i Vasilije Romanovič, painters that characterized Serbian church painting.

The painted walls of the interior (photo by Paolo)

The walls of Hopovo's church were started by Wenzel Novak, a builder from Petrovaradin until the 3rd floor. Then it was dismantled by igumane Teodor Dimitrijević Kracun (the painter) who was not satisfied with the dimensions and look.
The four central pillars are completely painted with saints and the apsis is also richly decorated with scenes of the bible.

The bell-tower (photo by Paolo)
The new version of the bell-tower was built by Nikolaus Farzel from 1758 and 1760 by everyone's satisfaction. Monks lived already in the monastery at that time, so also Dositej Obradovic who spent years there.

Between 1920 and 1943 the nuns of the monasteries were almost all from Russia, as they had to flew during October Revolution.
In front of the entrance of the monastery is the thomb of Mother Jekaterina which was the head of the monastery of Hopovo. She was Russian and grew up near the House of Romanov family.

The iconosatse suffered damage in the WW2 and the guesthouses of the 17th and 18th century were destroyed. Icons were stolen by the attacking Ustasa regime and the church was set on fire.
The renovation took more than 3 decades. In1990 for the 300-years of Serb migration, the cell of Dositej Obradovic was renovated, a new library was founded and the monastery treasury was renewed.
The monastery in winter (picture by Dejan Knezevic)

When you approach the Monastery, the church is hidden behind the walls.

 The monastery church (photo by Paolo)

The facade of the church entirely built in bricks is structured by two cornices and ends with a row of blind arches. The narthex (entrance hall) has a barrel vault and over the naos (the main hall) is a richly panted cross-vault with an also richly painted cupola. What is also very beautiful is the terracotta floor of the naos.

Novo Hopovo was declared Monument of Culture of Exceptional Importance in 1990, and it is protected by Republic of Serbia.

February 14, 2010

Krusedol Monastery in Fruska Gora

Photo link

Fruska Gora, the only mound of the otherwise flat Vojvodina (Pannonian Plain) has been the center of Serbian-orthodox spirituality for centuries. In an area of 50kn lenght and 10km width there are 16 monasteries built in the late Middle Age (even if legends tells that some of them were found as early as the 12th century) when Serbian culture was moving northward in response to the Ottoman onslaught. 
The monasteries were built in the style of the Moravian School and the first founders of the monasteries were the despots of the House of Brankovici (descendands of medieval rulers of the House of Nemanjic). In the 18th century many of the monasteries were rebuilt in Baroque Style, getting tall bell towers and intricate Baroque iconostases.
During WW II the monasteries suffered severe damage by the hands of the Ustashas and many valuable objects were taken. Today some of them active and are renovated, others are undergoing renovation and other are left as they are and no monks live there anymore.

photo link

In this post I'd like to show some pictures of the best-known of them, located 13km of Sremski Karlovci, it's the Krusedol Monastery (Манастир Крушедол) and is known as the mausoleum of some famous Serbs.

photo from pravoslavlje.nl

The monastery church is dedicated to the Annunciation and was errected 1504-1514 and is a good example of Moravian Style (however Baroque details were added later).
The monastery was founded between 1509 and 1516, by Bishop Maksim and his mother, Angelina Brankovic (the daughter of Orthodox Christian Prince of Albania, Skanderbeg) who were supported by Walachian Duke Jovan Njagoja Basaraba. During the final retreat of the Turks from Srem, in 1716, the monastery was damaged and the church burnt down. 

The renovation started in 1721, and was completed in the late 1760s. In 1726, a baroque bell-tower was added on to the West wing of the monks' quarters and between 1742 and 1750, the church underwent certain adaptations which did not significantly change its general original appearance. The monks' quartets were reconstructed and expanded in the same period. 

photo link

The church was originally decorated with fresco paintings in the 16th century. Its interior was covered with new oil wall paintings between 1750 and 1756, done by Ukranian painter Jov Vasilijevic and Stefan Tenecki.
photo link

On the West facade, there is a composition of the "Last judgment" from the end of the 17th century. The iconostasis consists of icons from between 16th and 19th century and the Deesis (from early 1500) is a beautiful example of byzantine icons.

The church is also the tomb of the Brankovic Family as well as Patriarchs Arsenije III and Arsenije IV and several members of the Obrenovic dynasty - Pricess Ljubica and King Milan.

Today Krusedol is a working woman's monastery.

Pictures of the monastery on panoramio
A description on Bill's blog with great pictures

February 6, 2010

Socanica Monastery in Kosovo and Metohija


In the northern part of Kosovo and Metohija, not far from the way from Raska to Kosovoska Mitrovica lays the peaceful monastery Socanica.
 the bell tower and the church

The entrance of the church

There aren’t hardly written things about the beginning of this monastery, only from a grave we know that around 1643 a priest Stefan was burried here and it looks that it then already was a monastery. The baptistery was build in 1862 on the bottom of the old distroyed church which was dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
 the candleholder outside the church

It’s not know when that church was build or when the Turks destroyed it, there are only signs that a lot of people always brought Slava cakes and hold gatherings, and confirm so an interrupted veneration of the church over the entire time.
the guesthouse (конак)

A story says, that a municipal forest ranger and member of the Socanica community and also patron and builder of the todays temple was Cirko Terzic of Brzanca. 
 From some writings it’s also known that the temple was build bigger than the Turks would have alowded so that the members of the church council had to stay in prison for an entire year and Cirko Terzic, seen as the responsible for that was killed.

The monks that live today in the monastery keep the entire monastery going and here I would like to share a couple of pictures from my visit at the monastery. 


We had coffee, juice, selfmade cakes (by the monks) and rakija on the terasse of the guesthouse in a very pleasant atmosphere and we had a very nice talk with the monks that have become good friends of my friends in Zvecan.

What fascinated me a lot is the long table in the garden. It can seat 130 - 140 people and it's located under trees with view to the valley.
The monastery has a beautiful website (in serbian) here: www.manastirsocanica.com

February 1, 2010

Skopje and my favorite buildings

I've never been to Skopje so far, but I'll definitely want to visit the city at the Vardar river, because some of the most exiting building built in the former Yugolsavia are in Skopje and I want to see them live. So far I collected their pictures and want to share them here, just to let you know that this fantastic buildings exist!

The earthquake of 1963  that destroyed most of the building in the center and along the Vardar river and the communist regime in the 60's created a unique environment to create some very special projects.

The main post office 

 The insect like concrete building of the Glavna Posta (Central Post Office) at Orce Nikolov bb (Photo from wikipedia)

The architect was Janko Konstantinov (born in 1926) who worked also for some time in Alvar Aalto's firm in Finnland. After the earthquake he returned to Skopje with the intention to help to built the city again.
This project of the main post office was realized in 3 stages (1974, 1982 and 1989).


In 1974 the big soviet style concrete block with the tower was built. The tower was inspired by the towers of the old fortress across the river.
Then followed the second stage in 1982 when the a "futuristic insect with upturned legs" building with the main public area was erected. It's a purely abstract creation also in reinforced concrete.
In the main hall there are some communist style murals in bright colors made by Borko Lazeski (1917-1993).

picture from vlatko at  build.mk

Macedonian Telecomunication Building

pictures xerius at pbase

This concrete building is next to the Main Post Office.

 "Goce Delcev" student dormitories 

This huge dorms are a project from 1975 and are part of the urban concepts for Skopje after the earthquake. The architect was Georgi Konstantinovski. Here the Master Plan for the Reconstruction of Skopje's City Centre, the 1st place in the 1966 competition made by Kenzo Tange. 
It's probably a good thing that the project was never accomplished. Just the idea of making a belt of high-rise buildings around the city was made.

Parts of the facade of Konstantinovski's work.
(Both b/w pictures by Maren Harnack, architect,
urbanist and asistent at HCU Hamburg)

This facades show the ample use of raw concrete (beton brut) and also how the human-scale gets lost as you look at this enormous blocks. It was the socialist city concept...

The Student's Dormitory "Goce Delčev" (picture from macedonian boy)

Nikola Karev Highschool

(picture by Maren Harnack, architect,
urbanist and asistent at HCU Hamburg)

Another work of Janko Konstantinov is the Nikola Karev high school building from 1968. Also here an example on how Konstantinov uses raw concrete in a sculptural way, though the building is not as wild as the Post Main Office.

(picture by mardar at panoramio)

News Publishing Agency "Nova Makedonija" building

(picture by bogoevski)

This is the building of the former News Publishing Agency "Nova Makedonija". It is a 15 storey building even if because of the shifted floors it doesn't look that high (it reminds me of the rudo building principle). Since summer 2009 the building now serves as a home for some of the Ministries of FYROM.

The Macedonian National Radio and Television building 

picture from skyscrapercity

picture xerius at pbase

St. Kliment Cathedral 

Built in 1972, the Orthodox church in one of few in the world to be designed in modern contemporary architecture. After Virgin Mary Cathedral was burned by the fascists on the end of WWII, and St. Dimitrie church was unable to meet the needs of the people, building of the new cathedral started in 1970. 


The main Macedonian orthodox cathedral church was consecrated in 1990, on the 1150th anniversary of the birth of the church patron, St. Clement of Ohrid.

The architect is Slavko Brezovski, and it is a bold and contemporary interpretation of Orthodox architecture.
The iconostasis icons were painted by Gjorgi Danevski and Spase Spirovski and the frescoes were painted by the academic painter Jovan Petrov and his collaborators. The Jesus Pantocrator fresco painted in the main dome covers area of 70 meters squared and just his eye is 1,5 meters long.

Republicki Hidro Meteoroloshki Zavod

Crowning a hill along  the road to old Skupi the State Hydrometeorological Institute building, projected in 1975 by Krsto Todorovski is a weird constellation of concrete pillars and slabs.

by geocenik at panoramio

Of course Skopje is much more than a few terrific concrete building. Here a couple of good links to read more about the city:

In your pocket free downloadable guide: http://www.inyourpocket.com/data/download/skopje.pdf

The book (in italian) I'm going to read before visiting Skopje:
Biljana Petrova (a Skopje based writer) Sogno di Skopje

Wikitravel guide to  Skopje (english)