In the previous issue we mentioned Yugoslav Modernism and the interest in this topic, which received additional attention with a landmark exhibition in MoMA, New York: Towards Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948-1980, curated by Martino Stierli and Vladimir Kulić. Due to its actuality and due to the quality of Yugoslav architecture, let us remain with this topic a while. Several issues have been already devoted to the Modernism of the former common state, among others the thematic issue of Piranesi no. 19/20 from 2004, devoted to the monuments to the National Liberation War built in the 1960s and 1970’s; in Slovenia these are the monuments in Ilirska Bistrica and Pohorje, in Italy the monument in Rižarna, Trieste, and in Banska Bystrica in Slovakia. This time we selected a different subject from the same period, the Podgorica Hotel, built between 1964 and 1967 in Podgorica in Montenegro, designed by the architect Svetalna Kana Radević (1937-2000). Svetlana Kana Radević was one of the rare female architects in Yugoslavia who managed to make a breakthrough, and who was able to create her own recognisable architectural oeuvre in a predominantly male profession. Most of the female architects in post-war Yugoslavia were either pushed to the margins of the profession, or limited to collaborations in offices where, as a rule, the leading and decision-making roles were held by men.

The Podgorica Hotel was the pinnacle of Radević’s creativity, and at the same time the pinnacle of the entire Yugoslav Modernism, with an enhanced understanding of the local context and a response to it with original architecture. The use of river stones from the Morača River, which she used to create the walls carrying the horizontal architecture of the hotel, is just one of the more recognisable elements of the exterior. The others are the ground floor which follows the bends of the river, the cascading terraces and balconies which discretely flow towards it, just as the pebbled terraces on the other riverbank, to mention but a few. This is truly excellent architecture; unfortunately it was completely compromised when the glazed vertical was built in its immediate vicinity. Sadly, another opportunity was lost forever for the professional public to react in a timely manner to what was happening in spatial development.

In an interview with the long-time Dean of the Faculty of Architecture in Ljubljana, Peter Gabrijelčič, we learn about the transition of the Ljubljana School of Architecture into a contemporary Faculty recognisable on the European level. At the same time we follow his second life mission, the construction of bridges, which left a significant mark not only in Slovenia but also in the other regions of our once common state. In the bridge at Ada across the river Sava in Belgrade, which he designed together with Viktor Markelj, we see the continuation of the tradition of the Yugoslav modern architecture.

Among the publications of contemporary Central European architectural production it is worth mentioning the ever more present sustainable understanding of architecture, where the client and architect together decide to act in this way. The Hribljane House by Medprostor arhitekti is one such example, where one can speak about the attitude towards space, towards the local context and its understanding, but also about taking on board the desires of the client and principles of sustainable living. At the same time, we can see the influence of Plečnik in it, and that of Ravnikar, Jugovec or the architect Glenn Murcutt, who designed architectural projects in Australia that were adapted to the local environment. When you touch the ground lightly, when you understand the tradition of building with wood, when you think globally and act locally, when inside you only use wood and warm bricks… and when you upgrade all that with your own original architectural language, linked to the premises of sustainable architecture – that is when a creative surplus happens. Also interesting in this structure is that the investors accepted that they would live in a house made from massive wood, where it is possible that cracks, bends and crevices might appear, for wood is a living material, knowing of course that such things do not influence the construction capacity of the material. This is yet another example that for the realisation of good architecture it is important to have an open-minded, sensible client.