Modernization of the transportation network involved differentiating roads and railroad traffic into different types of traffic, separating cargo from passengers and long-distance traffic from local. A hierarchy of roads would be cre-ated to allow the most efficient circulation of goods and people. This meant replacing Belgrade’s existing road network with an orthogonal system of main roads, three running roughly north-south and one roughly east-west—the “Brotherhood and Unity” highway. Such projects would obviously be very
Home Design 2.9. Diagram illustrating the separation of the different urban functions. From top to bottom: housing, administration, industry, special uses, greenery, and agriculture. From Oliver Minic, ed., Beograd: Generalni urbanisticki plan 1950 (Belgrade: Izvrsni odbor Narodnog odbora Beograda, 1951). costly and require demolishing substantial amounts of buildings. In addition to relocating the rail yards, which would free up access to the Sava riverbank, transportation projects included introducing a rapid transit line to connect the city to Ruma and Smederevo, as well as to Obrenovac and Pancevo.78 Even though the majority of the master plan blog focused on transporta-tion questions, the presentation of “the organization and land use of the city territory” reveals that housing was a central preoccupation for urban planners. Residential construction, after all, was projected to occupy 40 percent of the total surface area of the narrow city territory.79 Housing was a critical issue for two reasons. First, authorities felt they had to do something about the poor liv-ing conditions that confronted a large number of working-class citizens, com-pounded by the wartime destruction of the housing stock. Second, Belgrade’s Home Design 2.10. Diagram illustrating the rationalization of the road system in the old and new cities. From Oliver Minic, ed., Beograd: Generalni urbanisticki plan 1950 (Belgrade: Izvrsni odbor Narodnog odbora Beograda, 1951). population was projected to grow sharply in the next few years, as Belgrade was the seat of the federal government. Thus, this problem had ideological as well as pragmatic facets: the regime had to make good on its claims that a socialist government would fix the problems of the city, which were a legacy of capitalism, and improve the lives of its working class, and it had to prepare for future growth. How should planners approach this challenge? Was it more ur-gent to rebuild the existing city core, to improve the living conditions of peo-ple living there? Should they erect new housing on green-field sites? Which approach was more likely to create a more rational division of space? What form should any new housing take, to satisfy both the needs of the dwellers and the needs of the city as a whole? Mandic defined the home as a restorative place after a day of work, a place that helped fulfill the individual’s needs and a place that connected him or her to the rest of society. He explicitly rejected the concept of the “Wohnung fur das Existenzminimum” (the minimal existence unit). This effort by interwar avant-garde architects to address the slum problem by designing workers’ housing that used space and material resources most economically had culminated in a 1929 CIAM congress in Frankfurt dedicated to this challenge. Miliu-tin had already condemned this approach as a capitalist distortion. 80 Mandic stated that the individual is connected to a particular territory outside of his or her place of work, that is organized in such a way that it extends to him/her the maximum possibilities for physical and psychic regeneration after work during the “breathing” hours between work and rest. . . . Inhabiting does not only refer to the antechamber and the room but also to the entire complex, which within itself unites the apartment and all the equip-ment that satisfy economic, social, and cultural needs, recreation and rest, connection to others, and peacefulness, and creates a framework for the most intimate personal contact between individuals from the local housing community. These various functions were fulfilled, Mandic wrote, in the rejon.81
What form of housing should planners opt for in Belgrade? Mandic prescribed the apartment building as best suited to Belgrade’s needs. It is worth noting that he did not see the traditional detached family home as an expression of “bourgeois” lifestyles and mentalities and in fact praised it as the ideal home. This stands in contrast to the chief author of the Sofia master plan, in Bulgaria, who labeled the 1934 master plan for Sofia “bourgeois fascist” on the grounds that it had too many family homes with yards.82 Mandic took a less extreme view. Historically, the family house and its garden, which allowed the family to come into contact with nature, was the typical form of housing in Belgrade, accounting for 80 percent of buildings used for housing. However, Mandic argued, the modern era called for a different kind of housing. The family home had been appropriate for the city of the past, with its particular characteristics—including its “size, the degree of development of society and its desires, its economic significance, [and] the size of the population.”83 It was no longer appropriate for modern Belgrade. This was not a utopian vision— Mandic and his colleagues did not speak of creating a new “socialist man” by changing his living environment. Rather, they prescribed another form of housing—the apartment building—because it was best adapted to the needs of society as a whole.
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Home Design 2.11. City block in downtown Belgrade off of present-day Makedonska Street, taken from the Palace Albania tower in the mid-1930s. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the courtyards behind buildings were built up, limiting inhabitants’ access to sunlight and air. Courtesy of Muzej grada Beograda, Odsek Arhitektura i Urbanizam, Ur 7140. speech: this “contemporary manner of building” allowed the builder to optimize land use.84 Building vertically, as Le Corbusier had asserted in the Athens Charter, made it possible to fit a large number of inhabitants on a small surface area while preserving access to light, air, and green space. Whereas Le Corbusier had been concerned with the high cost of land in cities, this did not seem relevant at first to socialist city planners. They were, however, eager to save on infrastructure and prevent sprawl. Political authorities and planners shared the conviction that rapid urban growth was undesirable. Consequently, “in spite of its shortcomings,” Mandic judged the open-block format of multistory apartment buildings to be “one of the most suitable solutions for the contemporary way of living.”85 While further construction of
Home Design 2.12. House at the corner of Skadarska and 29 Novembar streets, destroyed in 1963. Single-story buildings in the city center like this one were slated to be torn down and replaced with multistory buildings. Courtesy of Muzej grada Beograda, Terenski urbanizam— dokumentacioni centar, MGB Tur 179. will avoid the irrational spreading out of the city and, with this, the unnecessary weighing down and complication of its organization.”86
The planning team devised a number of target population densities that would guide the reconstruction of the old parts of the city. The majority of the city— 57.8 percent—would be built or rebuilt to meet a target of 350 in-habitants per hectare. Certain already built areas would be allowed a slightly higher 450 inhabitants per hectare. Areas on difficult terrain would only be re-quired to hold 200 inhabitants per hectare, and areas with an “already defined character,” such as wealthy neighborhoods of villas, would have a population density of 60 inhabitants per hectare.87 Population density requirements for the majority of the existing city would be met by demolishing predominantly single-storied homes and building multiple-story buildings. In new settle-ments, buildings would not be built in a continuous strip along the edge of blocks (closed block), as had been the custom in Belgrade and most European cities, but would instead be disposed in a more open configuration. The result of these operations would be the freeing up of open space, providing access to light, greenery, and clean air. The model of freestanding towers and slabs would also be used to build new settlements. In some exceptional cases, when targeted interventions were made, apartment blocks would be rebuilt in the traditional closed block, or in a semiopen block pattern, to preserve the ap-pearance of the street. 88 Again, rather than opt for a radical reconstruction of these older neighborhoods, Belgrade’s planning team opted for a case-by-case approach, preserving certain parts of the built inheritance, where they were already in line with sought-after population densities.