In 1955, the Municipal Council’s Urbanism Council (Savet za urbanizam), a thirty-member body that comprised Belgrade’s cultural and artistic elite as well as economic experts, ordered that preparations once again be made for build-ing in New Belgrade, in light of plans to increase housing production in 1956. Between 1954 and 1960, planners debated various plans for new Belgrade. The problem was as follows: according to the 1950 master plan, New Belgrade’s pri-mary function was to be the administrative, political, and symbolic center of socialist Yugoslavia. But what was that supposed to mean in a state that had committed itself to decentralization? Alongside this perplexing question, town planners were faced with very clear pressures to find land on which to build housing. Belgrade was bursting at the seams, the country’s top authorities had announced that living standards should rise, and municipal authorities had in-dicated that New Belgrade should help satisfy the demand. It is therefore not surprising that Belgrade’s Town Planning Institute proposed a new plan that addressed the need for housing and largely ignored the question of New Bel-grade’s symbolic function.
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The following year, architect Branko Petricic, the new director of the town planning office, presented a refurbished concept for New Belgrade to the Urbanism Council. Like other Yugoslav modernist architects, Petricic had worked in Le Corbusier’s offices prior to the Second World War.8 He had designed one of the few buildings in Yugoslavia influenced by socialist realism, the Trade Union Hall on Marx and Engels Square (known today as Nikola Pasic Square),
Home Design 4.1. A sketch from Mandic’s study, displaying his proposal for eleven superblocks From Milivoje Kovacevic et al., eds., Novi Beograd: New Town (Belgrade: Direction for the Construction of Novi Beograd, 1961). which had just reached completion that very year.9 His plan for New Belgrade, in contrast to Mandic’s earlier proposal, looked much like Vrbanic’s version in the 1950 master plan, with a similar geometrical configuration. However, unlike that plan, it cut out most of the public programming and focused on housing. Petricic also set aside Dobrovic’s earlier concerns about creating a symbolically powerful landscape. Rather, he was mostly concerned with fulfilling the Athens Charter promise of abundant sunshine and clean air for all.
His team accepted Mandic’s assessment of the need to limit the surface area that needed to be elevated but rejected his most radical prescriptions, includ-ing the superblocks, and reinstated the artificial lake. In Ljiljana Blagojevic’s estimation, Petricic had applied a barely modified version of Le Corbusier’s Radiant City to New Belgrade. His plan imposed strict functional zoning on the landmass. The area south of the railway was divided into two horizontal bands, the upper one dedicated to services and the lower one to sports and recreation.
North of the railway, the westernmost band of land would be de-voted to a giant municipal park. Of the various public buildings and squares provided for in earlier plans by Dobrovic and Vrbanic, only the horizontal band south of the artificial lake, containing the Federal Executive Council building and the Central Committee tower, as well as a few other public build-ings, was preserved. The remainder of the vast area north of the railroad would be devoted exclusively to housing for 150,000 inhabitants, or 100,000 fewer than originally planned in the 1950 master plan. This zone would be organized into sixteen square blocks of buildings eight to twelve stories tall, achieving a population density of 350 inhabitants per hectare. This plan adopted housing as its central focus, both functionally and symbolically.10
Petricic’s plan was first put to the Society of Architects of Serbia (Drustvo arhitekata Srbije) and the Society of Urban Planners of Serbia (Drustvo ur-banista Srbije) for discussion and then presented to the municipal Urbanism Council, where it provoked a vigorous debate. Both Petricic and Nenadovic, the council’s chair, had hoped for a speedy adoption, as there was pressing de-mand for new building sites, and nothing could proceed in New Belgrade until the plan was adopted. 11 This was a particular hardship to the existing inhabi-tants of New Belgrade, who were still waiting for basic services such as a post office and a shopping center to be built.
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