Besides advocating a new role for New Belgrade, Bordevic articulated an alternative, more pragmatic vision of urban planning than the totalizing ap-proach for which Dobrovic stood. He criticized Dobrovic for seeking to estab-lish a comprehensive vision for New Belgrade in line with its presumed signifi-cance on the continent. Europe, he reminded the council, was not contributing anything to developing this territory, and so Belgrade must stay within its means. Because the financing for building in New Belgrade would only appear gradually, he argued that planners should stick to planning those surface areas that would be developed in the near future. “We cannot afford to put brakes on the construction of those buildings for which we dispose the means to build
The question of what could and should be planned and realized immedi-ately, and what should be put off until later, had already come up in 1949, when town planners and their advisors had struggled with what it meant to modern-ize under conditions of duress. Ten years later, they faced the same question, proving that this dilemma was not just limited to the context of reconstruction and crisis. At the heart of this tension was a crucial question about the na-ture of modernization and modernity. Did becoming modern begin with an increase in productive capacities, reenacting the industrialization in Western Europe in the nineteenth century? Or did it amount to a transformation in the way people lived—the right of everyone to modern living quarters and, by implication, to a modern lifestyle? Or perhaps even the right of individuals to choose how they want to live? What in fact was the relationship between production and consumption—did increases in productivity bring about ex-panded consumption, or vice-versa? This tension between the urge to mod-ernize the economy and society and the belief that it was necessary to “remain within one’s own means” was a recurring motif in urban planning discussions and would turn into a society-wide debate in the late 1960s. But in the late 1950s, Yugoslavia was swept up by a wave of optimism. The 1957 exhibit “A Dwelling for Our Conditions” had suggested that tasteful glamour could be delivered on a tight budget. From the perspective of urban planning, Bordevic advocated bringing this vision into being, one block at a time.
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At the end of April 1957, the members of the Urbanism Council approved two items: a three-page program for New Belgrade and a set of directives for its future development.22 These textual documents reflected the absence of consensus regarding New Belgrade’s place in the city and Yugoslavia. In- stead of adopting Petricic’s plan or an alternative plan, they set forth a series of principles that the town planning office should use to design an amended plan. The program focused on describing the ideal relationship between New Belgrade and the old town and described some important features of the projected landscape, such as recreational areas and public buildings, whereas the directives set out some general rules for locating activities in New Belgrade.
In the program, New Belgrade was no longer the center of Belgrade. Instead, buildings of importance to the federation were located in two sites, one on each side of the river. Nonetheless, it continued to be a significant site for representing Yugoslavia, hosting several important buildings, such as those of the Federal Executive Council and the Central Committee of the League of Communists. It would also contain other facilities of interest to the whole city and country, welcoming other federal buildings as well as a youth center, a war museum, a hall for gatherings, tourist facilities, and institutions of higher learning. However, the other bank of the Sava would also become the site of key buildings serving social, cultural, educational, administrative, and representative functions over the next twenty to fifty years. This area was currently occupied by Belgrade’s rail yards, which would be relocated. A national library, a national archive, a new hotel for representatives, and a business quarter were included in the plans. This area was judged to be topographically desirable, as it sloped downward toward New Belgrade. Relocating some of Belgrade’s important buildings onto this site thus accomplished two functions: it reestablished the symbolic equality between the new and old Belgrade, and it integrated the two parts visually.23 The project to rebuild the right bank was never brought to fruition.
Beyond sharing the functions of city center with old Belgrade, New Belgrade would make up for some of Belgrade’s shortcomings. The old town had little green space, so its inhabitants could seek refreshment in the new city park on the left bank of the Sava. New Belgrade’s traffic grid was also intended to alleviate traffic congestion in the city.
New Belgrade’s importance was also put into perspective in the council’s discussions by the fact that planners evidently now foresaw Belgrade expanding in yet another direction. “Greater Belgrade” would accomplish the ultimate feat of crossing the majestic Danube and colonizing the plains north of the river. There, a new modernist settlement, a second “New Belgrade,” was planned. Doubtless, planners were impressed by the rapid population growth and could not imagine it waning. This diminished New Belgrade’s importance, making it just one of two new districts.24