The competition, Bordevic pointed out, posed a number of crucial questions. Was this to be merely the center of New Belgrade or a center for the whole city? Would it be the most important center in the city or only one among several? What sort of activities would take place there—administrative or cultural, educational, and leisure activities? He also noted the special chal-lenge posed by Nemanjina Street, which separated the monumental Federal Executive Council from the nine central blocks, of which the six outermost blocks were entirely or in part dedicated to housing. How could one recon-cile the two, putting into place successful residential neighborhoods while re-specting the dignity of the government buildings across the street? Bordevic cringed at the thought of pillows and blankets aerating on windowsills and balconies in full view of the highest decision-making body in the country.31
As in 1947, the significance of the task seems to have intimidated the jury, which refrained from awarding a first-place prize, instead granting prizes to two different teams. The Town Planning Institute charged a group made up of members of the two teams, led by Uros Martinovic, to design a new plan for Belgrade’s center, based on these projects.32 This plan, which returned New Belgrade to its place of prominence in the city and the entire country, was then adopted in 1960.
Commenting on the resulting project, Bordevic remarked that it gave more importance to the central blocks than had initially been anticipated in the 1950 master plan. The design team felt that this zone should be not just a local center, but an attraction for the entire city and for visitors to Yugoslavia. Moreover, it departed from the monumentality of past imaginings of this district in favor of creating a more “humane, sunny, lively, useful center of life” in which consumption played a central role. The three central blocks were conceived of as three squares with different functions, reflecting the transition from the Federal Executive Council and the train station, which had been relocated south of the central zone. The uppermost block was a celebratory square that could be used for parades and large gatherings. The central block would be a hub for culture and leisure, a site for leisurely walks and a place for inhabitants to spend their spare time. It would contain “theaters, movie theaters, clubs, cafes, exhibition spaces, shops of attractive character for the most exceptional articles,” terraces with chairs, all surrounding a central courtyard made attractive by the play of water in fountains and free of vehicular traffic.” Bordevic compared the design to Piazza San Marco in Venice. The southernmost block would serve two pur-poses. The space immediately next to the train station would be a square that would direct travelers to the “most lively and most beautiful parts of the city.” Beyond this would be a commercial and business quarter boasting a depart-ment store and other shops, the headquarters of firms and agencies, hotels, and
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Home Design 4.3. This image, published in a promotional bloglet in 1961, illustrates the renewed optimism regarding New Belgrade. From Milivoje Kovacevic et al., eds., Novi Beograd: New Town (Belgrade: Direction for the Construction of Novi Beograd, 1961). restaurants.33 Thus, the central core of the model city of New Belgrade would be largely dedicated to consumption and leisure.
The competition for the nine central blocks set a precedent for the further development of New Belgrade. From then on, Yugoslavia-wide competitions, whether for entire blocks, groups of blocks, or sections of blocks, would be-come the dominant, if not exclusive, approach to designing detailed site plans.
Following the competition, the planning office readied a regulation plan for New Belgrade. When the master plan for Belgrade was adopted in 1950, the Town Planning Institute had intended to use it to develop phased plans that instructed planners how to proceed with building and reconstruction in Bel-grade. Such plans were never completed, and no other mechanism had been put in place to ensure that the objectives in the master plan were respected. In the 1950s, state institutions and work organizations that urgently needed to put up buildings erected them in the existing urban fabric, where infrastructure already existed. They built in the place of structures destroyed during the war and filled in gaps. As a result, norms for population density and functional zoning were more or less ignored. Starting in 1959, in response to this uncontrolled growth, the Town Planning Institute had begun to prepare regulation plans, at a scale of 1:2500 or 1:5000, for each district (opstina) in Belgrade. The regulation plans sought to reestablish the authority of the master plan. They would indicate the location of roads, the precise boundaries of different zones, the type of construction system to be used in each block (open, closed, or combined), the population density and height of each block, gradient, and un-derground installations.34 New Belgrade’s regulation plan was adopted in 1962, laying the ground for a more coherent development of the settlement. The plan divided New Belgrade into two zones: New Belgrade, with a population of 155,000, and Bezanija, which would be less densely populated, with a population of 85,000. It listed buildings serving various aspects of urban life that should be incorporated into the settlement, established their future location in general terms, and reserved an adequate surface area for them. The regulation plan affirmed a few central concepts for New Belgrade, including the use of large ensembles of buildings and sweeping lines, while respecting the need to create intimate ambiances, as well as the importance of green space as a site for leisure, seen as essential to the holistic development of the individual.35 Once the regulation plan was adopted, the UZB could proceed with developing New Belgrade in a more systematic way. The next step, according to the Urban and Regional Planning Law passed in 1961, was to proceed with the development of detailed site plans. These were then submitted to the Munic-ipal Council for approval. These plans, which were required in the event of any new construction or reconstruction anywhere in the city, contained de-tailed information about the precise location and capacity of individual build-ings, green space, parking lots, roads, and infrastructure, as well as some con-struction specifications. By law, they needed to be publicly presented before their adoption, and all suggestions and criticisms were supposed to be taken into consideration in the final design. Interestingly, several detailed site plans for parts of New Belgrade were adopted prior to the creation of the regula-tion plan—aside from blocks 1 and 2 (1957), site plans were also developed for blocks 3 (1960), 4 (1961), and 21 (1961). Far from following a well-thought-out, rational process for developing New Belgrade, starting with the big picture and working their way down to the details, town planners at first alternated between a piecemeal and a global approach. Home Design 4.4. Land use in New Belgrade as determined in the 1960 plan, elaborated under the direction of Milutin Glavicki. From Milivoje Kovacevic et al., eds., Novi Beograd: New Town (Belgrade: Direction for the Construction of Novi Beograd, 1961).