Text topic: Critical History of Transforming Belgrade Public Spaces - from the End of the 18th Century to the Beginning of the 21st Century
- University Centre
Text author: Марина Павловић
From the end of the nineteenth century, the urban development of Belgrade tended to communicate political and national ideas through articulation of public spaces. However, the state monopoly caused an excessive subordination to political events and bureaucratic mechanisms, so that the execution of urban plans was usually incomplete, due to changes of power or competences of various administrative institutions. One of the few most complete urban areas, which has retained the same purpose until this day, is the University Centre along the Boulevard of King Alexander in Belgrade. The history of this location began in the second half of the 19th century, when Prince Mihailo Obrenović organized the first gallop races in Belgrade on that site. Towards the outbreak of the First World War, the Belgrade University was given this area for the location of a new University Centre. Development of the complex began during the interwar period, with edifices designed by eminent Belgrade architects, but based on two different urban concepts and plans: one was legal and valid but the other was actually implemented in practice. In spite of being harshly criticized by socialist authorities, the same principle persisted after the Second World War. Although it was perhaps one of the most successful complexes built in Belgrade over several decades, the University Centre is not recognized as such in the visual perception of citizens, mostly because of the lack of blending or a high-quality urban concept. The transformation of this area reflects all the phenomena that dominated over urban development of Belgrade in the last 150 years, and illustrates refraction of different professional premises and political attitudes and desires.