Despite his misgivings and those of other urban planners, the Town Planning Institute had complied with the demands for single-family dwellings. The urban planning service had made certain recommendations, the municipal as-sembly had accepted them, and they had found locations and prepared parcels for twenty thousand individual homes.
Bordevic sought to reframe the discussion, from being narrowly focused on housing to considering the planning of the city as a whole. In so doing, he was making the case that the Town Planning Institute was more qualified than any other institution to see the big picture. The topic of the debate, he stated, was not merely the housing problem but also the fate of the city as a whole. He was concerned that there was too much willingness to cut corners and choose what appeared to be the least expensive route, even if it compromised the future of Belgrade. Urban growth could not be dealt with using a series of expedient measures. As it stood, administrators, investors, and construction companies directed construction to the periphery, where land was cheaper, while the center of the city fell into decrepitude. They built large numbers of one-bedroom apartments because they were the least expensive. He cau-tioned the council against building any more such apartments, which would be obsolete in a few years as a result of the ever-rising standard of living. The same held true for “modest family-home settlements.” Those poor workers who would be satisfied with septic tanks and one-bedroom apartments today would turn their noses up at them tomorrow.66
Bordevic urged his audience to adopt a more balanced and future-oriented approach that was in line with an egalitarian and orderly vision of socialist modernity. It was not sufficient to satisfy immediate needs: it could in fact be counterproductive, creating a building stock that could not serve the city. The municipal assembly needed to anticipate the needs of the future, those of a one-million-inhabitant Belgrade. Otherwise, Belgrade would continue to be in perpetual crisis, instead of taking its rightful place on the stage of European capitals.
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The threat lay not only on Belgrade’s borders but also within, in its overcrowded city center. This overcrowding took two forms, the first being a shortage of living space. In particular, Bordevic condemned the usurpation of courtyards by informally constructed structures. People inhabiting these buildings and garden sheds left over from the capitalist period, he stated, lived without access to sunshine and air. The persistence of such housing into the socialist era provided embarrassing evidence of the impotence of town planners. Furthermore, the disappearance of courtyards meant that children were obligated to play in the street, dangerously exposed to vehicle traffic. The other form of congestion affected circulation—the streets were not designed to deal with automobile traffic, and there was a critical shortage of space for park-ing. In Bordevic’s opinion, the city center needed more than restoration and beautification; it needed to be completely rebuilt, to suit the needs of a one-million-inhabitant capital.67
The urgency of the housing crisis, Bordevic implied, was afflicting the city’s decision makers with tunnel vision. Local administrators might think they knew better than urban planners what the citizenry wanted, but only urban planners were capable of balancing the needs of the city as a whole and plan-ning for the future growth of the city, which seemed limitless. Furthermore, Bordevic suggested, administrators did not really know what citizens wanted— citizens didn’t even really know what they wanted, as their desires would grow in proportion to their incomes. But in spite of his concerns, the proposals for strengthening housing construction were adopted without amendment, highlighting the Town Planning Institute’s waning influence.
The Municipal Council returned to the issue of illegal housing in 1965. This time, delegates came equipped with detailed tables on the extent of the problem in their jurisdictions. According to the tables presented in a report on rogue construction in 1965, far from abating, the problem had only grown larger over time. There had been 9,467 cases of rogue construction throughout Belgrade between 1963 and 1965. They divided illegal construction into the categories of new housing, new ancillary building (such as garages, verandas, sheds, bath-rooms, etc.), extensions of housing, and extensions of other spaces. The two most significant categories were new housing and new ancillary building, for which they had registered 1,990 and 1,956 cases respectively in 1963. By 1965, the numbers had dropped to 619 and 1,180, which was cited as evidence that the campaign had been effective. However, the report also indicates that people were turning ancillary buildings into housing, so that the statistics may conceal a greater number of illegal buildings that people had built to use as housing.68