Text topic: Architect Nikola Dobrović (1897–1967) – Fifty Years Later
Text author: Милан Попадић
This paper is based on an assumption that urban structure is a mnemonic mechanism: as it was effectively stated by Lewis Mumford, “in the city, time becomes visible”. The basic mnemonic starting point is that there is a connection between images (imagines) and places (loci), and that by creating a connection in one’s consciousness, one can invoke recollections of certain content (memoria). Transferred to the domain of urban structure, the city becomes a place filled with images that form a special memory landscape. In this context, iconic architectural works are of prominent importance. Therefore, in this paper, and starting from above given assumptions, the location of the State Department for National Defense building (known as the Headquarters or “Generalštab”), designed by architect Nikola Dobrović, will be examined in the overall memory landscape of Belgrade. In this regard, the importance of “Generalštab” as a cultural monument, its heritage values, as well as the coherence of the proposal for its conversion and reconstruction will be taken into account. The speed with which “Generalštab” has changed its memory connotation from an architectural monument (as a metaphor of Sutjeska or an articulation of Bergson’s philosophy) through a site of devastation (after the NATO bombing of 1999) to a polygon for political juggling with public resources (the 21st century), points to the incompatibility of memory contents and therefore to the need for constant care of them.