An Exceptional Work from the Yugoslav Modernism Period

With hindsight, the Hotel Podgorica represented an avant-garde architectural work in its entirety. Its significance for the architecture of Montenegro has not yet been transcended although half a century has passed since its construction.

Hotel Podgorica, Podgorica, Montenegro Photo credits: Lazar Pejović

Hotel Podgorica, Podgorica, Montenegro
Photo credits: Lazar Pejović

Hotel Podgorica, Podgorica, Montenegro Photo credits: Lazar Pejović

Hotel Podgorica, Podgorica, Montenegro
Photo credits: Lazar Pejović

Hotel Podgorica, Podgorica, Montenegro Photo credits: Lazar Pejović

Hotel Podgorica, Podgorica, Montenegro
Photo credits: Lazar Pejović

The Hotel Podgorica” is the most famous work of Svetlana Kana Radević. It is her first, but also her most significant building. The building received the republican and federal Borba” Award. With the passage of time, it has turned out that this was an exceptional act of creation, which not only marked Montenegrin architecture, but also the culture of the 20th century. Unfortunately, the 21st century has not yet shown sufficient sensibility towards this cultural heritage, as the building has been significantly damaged through partial and direct interventions, as well as by the siting of a commercial skyscraper in its immediate vicinity. Still, with its creative force the Hotel Podgorica” defies all.

The post-war development of Podgorica is characterised by the reconstruction of the parts of the city demolished by bombing, when priority was given to residential construction and industrialisation.[1] Until the Hotel “Podgorica” was built there was only one hotel, whose aim was to meet the needs of business people and the politicians of the republican assembly.[2] Due to more frequent visits of organised tourist groups, there was a need to build a new hotel. For about 20 years, the concept of architectural competitions had not been used in the post-war Podgorica. However, in order to raise quality of the buildings that would be constructed, the city assembly decided to start hold competitions for several important locations.

The architectural competition to build a new hotel (which was later named “Podgorica”) was published and implemented in 1964.[3] According to the definition in the project task, the new hotel did not have any pretensions of being a luxury one. Except for the accommodation units, the coffee bar, restaurant and terrace, no other important facilities were foreseen.[4] The location of the new hotel was very inspirational, however – the steep and south-east bank of the Morača River. On the other side of the river there is a part of the city with ruins from the settlement that was here in the Ottoman period, which is separated from the new part of the city by the Ribnica River.[5] One has to bear in mind that there was only one building by the Morača River at that time, and thus the activation of the riverbanks was one of the competition’s objectives.[6]

[1] Podgorica was bombed 84 times during WWII. Following WWII, it became the capital of the Republic of Montenegro. From 1946 to1992, the city was called Titograd, then then it returned to the name Podgorica.

[2] This is the Hotel “Crna Gora” (1949-53) by architect Vujadin Popović (1912-1999). It still exists today in a reconstructed and upgraded condition.

[3] The competition was published as a republican competition with the aim to establish Montenegrin architects.

[4] The hotel was designed with a capacity of 44 double rooms and adequate accompanying facilities, which represented the capacity of two coaches of passengers.

[5] This is the urban embryo of Podgorica, which was founded by the Ottomans in 1474 at the mouth of the Ribnica and Morača rivers. Today the area is called Stara varoš (Old Borough).

[6] This is the building “Labud plaža” (1960) designed by the architect Vukota Tupa Vukotić (1932-2002).

The complete article is published in Autumn 2019 issue of Piranesi No. 41/Vol. 27.

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