UniversitÓ Iuav di Venezia

Learning from Modernisations

Conferenza. Skoplje, Macedonia (1>2 aprile 2011)




Unfinished Modernisations 2



Ines Tolic ha curato per l’evento la mostra Borba Federal Architecture Award: A Pan -Yugoslav Discourse Between Regional Identities (02-08.04.2011)



The Conference Learning from Modernisations, organised by the Coalition for Sustainable Development, forms part of the two-year collaboration project Unfinished Modernisations: Between Utopia and Pragmatism, designed to systematically document and interpret modern architecture, built environments, and social landscapes of the former Yugoslav countries within their broader social contexts.

The built environment in the countries of the former Yugoslavia is essentially characterised by operations carried out after World War II. From their scope and impact, it can be concluded that modernist architecture and urbanism are one of the dominants of the environment that today belong to the register of “historical urban landscape”. But to understand the real achievements of modernist architecture and urbanism, it is necessary to take into account the objectives that preceded their construction, the ways in which they were accepted in its time as well as their status today in the post-socialist system and its values.


The effects and reception of the inheritance of modernisation are changing, the conceptions that were once operational are today infeasible, but the idea of modernity, has the presumption of lasting research, re-examination and tending towards more advanced models, which requires continuity of both practice and critical thinking. But this continuity was broken off or brought seriously into question in all the countries of the former Yugoslavia in the trauma of transition from a socialist to a capitalist system.


At the Conference there will be an endeavour critically to identify the lessons of modernisations and to endorse their productive achievements. Also, reference will be made to new practices in architecture, town planning and the political space that share the ideals and progressive aspirations of historical modernisations, but also improve and update them in order to be able to face up to the contemporary moment.


On the first day of the Conference, esteemed lecturers and guests will present their views about the political aspects of the Yugoslav urbanism during self-managed socialism, and the outcome of that complex reality which clearly shows the initial intentions but also the consequent inability to implement them. The lecturers include Vedran Mimica (Director of the Berlage Institute), and dr.Vlatko Korobar (Professor of Urban Planning and Design at the Faculty of Architecture, Skopje). Divna Pencic will host a public interview with Prof. Georgi Konstantinovski and Arch. Olga Papesh, the doyens in our architecture. The public interview with the new urban activists Aneta Spasoska, Dragan Krstevski and Slavica Chavdarovska from Prva Arhi Brigada (the First Archi Brigade) and Jane Stojanoski, Nevenka, Mancheva and Vesna Mitanoska from Podmladuvanje (Rejuvenation) will be hosted by Biljana Stefanovska


The second day programme will include two panel discussions aimed to raise the questions about progressiveness and architecture, as well as to try to identify the original achievements of modernisation processes and initiate a re-examination of those actions that in various ways proved to be unsuccessful in terms of their basic objective: prosperity for the society. The panel discussions will be followed by a lecture of dr.Lukasz Stanek (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich), a researcher at the Faculty of Architecture and curator of the exhibition PRL™ Export Architecture and Urbanism from Socialist Poland (Warsaw Museum of Modern Art, 2010).


In addition, the Conference will be accompanied by an exhibition of the Borba Federal Award for Architecture. The exhibition will show the winners of the only federal award for architecture in socialist Yugoslavia, presented by the daily newspaper Borba. This prestigious award was the main official benchmark of architectural excellence in former Yugoslavia, but it also reflected and promoted the concept of "brotherhood and unity" and a formation of pan-Yugoslav identity. The aim is to present an insight in the political, social and economic context written by the language of the built environment, but also to provide an opportunity to asses how architectural values of the socialist society fare in today's radically changed conditions. This exhibition will be the first ever that presents all Borba Federal Award winners between 1965 and1990 in one place.



Conference programme:


1 April, Cultural Informative Centre (Salon 19/19) 


5pm-5.30pm Registration


Conference opening

Sonja Damchevska (Coalition for Sustainable Development, Skopje)


About Unfinished Modernisations project

Maroje Mrduljas, (Architectural Faculty, Zagreb)


6pm -10.30pm


Utopian Journeys, Political aspects of Yugoslav urbanism during the self-managed socialism

Vedran Mimica (Berlage Institute)


Grande Travail - Skopje: Something normal or outcome of one heroic time?

Public interview with Prof. Georgi Konstantinovski and Arch. Olga Papesh, hosted by Arch. Divna Pencic


Aerodrom Revisited

Vlatko Korobar (Faculty of Architecture, Skopje)


Re-examining the language of architecture

Public interview with Aneta Spasoska, Dragan Krstevski and Slavica Chavdarovska from Prva Arhi Brigada (the First Archi Brigade) and Jane Stojanoski, Nevenka, Mancheva and Vesna Mitanoska from Podmladuvanje (Rejuvenation) hosted by Arch. Biljana Stefanovska




10.30pm Reception


2 April, Cultural Informative Centre (Salon 19/19)



Workshop: “Speakers Corner” - project research teams progress


3.30 pm-5pm

Panel discussion: Progressive Architecture?


Emil Jurcan (the Pula group): Project: Rujevac Platforms

Miranda Veljacic and Dinko Peracic (Platform 9.81):

Divna Pencic, Jasna Stefanovska and Biljana Spirkoska: A Quest for Public Space

Guests: Dritan Shutina (Co-Plan, Albania), Besnik Aliaj (University Polis, Albania),

Sandra Kapetanovic (Expeditio, Montenegro)

Moderator: Nebojsa Milikic and Maroje Mrduljas




5pm – 6.30pm

Panel discussion: Another Modernity


Elsa Turskusic: The Way from Tradition to Modernity

Dubravka Sekulic: Constructing Non-Alignment: The Sun Never Sets for Energoprojekt

Divna Pencic, Jasna Stefanovska and Biljana Spirkoska: Skopje - The Phoenix city

Guests: Dritan Shutina (Co-Plan, Albania), Soir Dhamo (University Polis, Albania),

Sandra Kapetanovic (Expeditio, Montenegro)

Moderator: Ines Tolic and Maroje Mrduljas





PRL™ Export Architecture and Urbanism from Socialist Poland

Lukasz Stanek (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich)





Exhibition Opening: Cultural Informative Centre

Borba Federal Architecture Award: A Pan -Yugoslav Discourse Between Regional Identities




Unfinished Modernisations- Between Utopia and Pragmatism is a collaborative, two-year research project on architecture and urban planning. It brings together partners from both institutional and non-institutional sectors from South-Eastern Europe: TrajekT and Maribor Art Gallery (Slovenia), the Croatian Architects’ Society and the Institute for Contemporary Architecture (Croatia), the Belgrade Architects Society (Serbia) and the Coalition for Sustainable Development (Macedonia).

The project is aimed at fostering interdisciplinary research (14 research teams) on the production of built environment in its social, political and cultural contexts. It encompasses the countries that succeeded former Yugoslavia, spanning the period from the inception of the socialist state until today. The topic of the researches is the way in which divergent concepts of modernization conditioned architecture, territorial transformations, and urban phenomena. The project seeks to detect effective, resilient, and socially responsible models of architecture and urban planning. While largely unexplored and lacking appropriate interpretation, many of the models created in the region were original and experimental and may be used as inspiration for a progressive current practise both inside and beyond the regional borders.

Unfinished Modernisations will be carried out through a variety of activities: conferences (Zagreb, Skopje, Beograd, Split, Ljubljana), exhibitions, film festival and publications. All efforts will culminate in a final exhibition in Maribor (Slovenia), the 2012 Cultural Capital of Europe.


The project is supported by the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA), European Cultural Foundation [ECF], ERSTE Stiftung, Croatian Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Macedonia, the City of Skopje, Cultural Informative Centre, Kingdom of the Netherlands, First Archi Brigade, Association of Architects of Macedonia, Trench doo, Tajfa Architects and the daily newspaper Nova Makedonija.