BELGRADE UNBUILT — Project for Public Landscape focuses on the urban body formed by Belgrade’s many green islands and open spaces enclosed within the built fabric. Emerging in the city from diverse historical circumstances and geographical backgrounds, we find many of these public landscapes remain in a precarious state: some are deeply anchored in the collective memory but have become largely obsolete in the present; others are encumbered with private interest, considered only placeholders for development to arrive.
Belgrade extends across three distinct ecologies: at the confluence of the Sava and the Danube, where the floodplains of the two rivers meet the folded landscapes of the Šumadija Upland; and the vast Pannonian Plain. Since the early nineteenth century, the growing city has encroached on open lands. These include old public destinations in urban forests and nature areas such as Topčider and Avala; the representational modernist green spaces such as the Park of Friendship; the forgotten WWII memorial grounds; and the wastelands left behind in the wake of recent informal construction. Flanked by nature reserves and flood plains, the interrupted riverbanks along the Sava and Danube are dotted with recreational areas, leisure facilities and former industry.
Stabilised over a long historical period as essential urban “voids” within the evolving city fabric, these enclosed landscapes have materialised the paths and symbols of the city’s public rituals, power geometries, and geographical necessities. Today, each landscape represents a complex and specific urban form intertwining ecology with leisure, power and memory.
With the most recent major paradigmatic passage from the socialist to the post-socialist era, these green islands in the city, like much of Belgrade’s built-up urban space, are once again changing profoundly. Having fallen victim to the post-socialist “memory wars”, a shrinking public sector, and economic hardship, their uses and meanings, in most cases, keep eroding along with their green bodies. Socio-spatial practices of the post-socialist city have yet to discover ways in which the many neglected destination points, monuments and fading landscape architectures, now hidden in the green, can be re-inhabited in the present time.
Together these public landscapes create a broad and necessary urban project for the city of Belgrade. Amidst often conflicting political interests projected in urban space, the idea of a public landscape can begin to serve as crucial common ground. In the light of the city’s ravenous development, both formal and informal, we propose to rethink the meaning of the Unbuilt and envision its contemporary form.
Beograd Unbuilt is the first term in the new series of metropolitan investigations at the chair of Architecture of Territory. Each semester of the series, we dress a different Metropolis and a particular regional theme or phenomenon, employing research and design. After Belgrade and public landscape, we will work in other metropolitan cities on projects concerning infrastructure and mobility, housing, urban resources, etc. Each studio represents a collective project, where students contribute with their work to a shared metropolitan vision.
Architecture of Territory’s approach enables students to work with a wide range of methods and sources pertaining to city and territory, including ethnographic research, literature, architectural and urban design precedents, urban theory, photography and visual art. The semester offers an intensive fieldwork and studio program, with an opportunity for 18 students to focus on metropolitan-scale research and design. The outcome will be urban and architectural interventions within the city’s public realm. We are looking for avid travellers and team workers with high motivation and independent positions.
The project will benefit from academic exchange with the Department of Architecture and the Faculty of Forestry at the University of Belgrade. The collaborative exchange will take place in the form of design workshops during the field trip to Belgrade. The studio will also engage with various local experts and institutions from Belgrade’s public life and build in-depth knowledge about the city. The collaboration will result in an exhibition and a publication at the end of 2018.
The semester consists of an investigative journey into the city of Belgrade and intensive studio sessions with fellow students, the teaching team and guests. Students will work in groups of two. All projects will compose a shared vision for the public landscape of Belgrade. Students are free to choose from a variety of representations and approaches to build a concise research narrative and conclude with a self-set brief in the first half of the semester. The second half will develop a design proposal for a specific site. The final work will be represented in drawings, images and physical models recorded in a book. All projects will be made public on the Architecture of Territory website.
An investigative journey constitutes the core of the project. Travelling through the territory, we will experience its complexity and beauty. Our journey will entail curated walks through the city, boat trips and hikes, followed by workshop sessions with local tutors to reflect on our findings. Students will have additional time for individual research and documenting their project sites. The integrated seminar week will take place from 17th to 24th of March 2018. Cost frame B.
Design Studio (13 ECTS), Integrated Seminar Week (2 ECTS), and Integrated Discipline Planning (3 ECTS). Places: 18 Students