A few things I know about skyscrapers…
Guided tour (by bus), 09.10.2011, 15:00h, http://neboderi.posterous.com/
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In the beginning, in the 50s, they were the pride and joy, the most obvious sign of progress. Wave of modernisation and urbanisation of the country after World War 2, saw numbers of people migrating from rural to urban area but it also brought a new ideological view on housing. “The Right to the Flat” was proclaimed, meaning that society was responsible to provide housing for all. So new housing had to be built. Housing that would be optimised, dense and designed with the idea of sharing common facilities as much as possible. Modernist solution for this problem was to stack flats on top of other flats – and make residential skyscrapers. But times changed and in the 1980s residential skyscrapers became obsolete as it became impossible to construct housing higher than 8 stores, due to changes in law regulation. The glory time of residential skyscrapers passed, but they continued to exist, as a quiet background for everyday life inside and around them. The older they are getting the less spectacular their height seems to be. Not because taller buildings are being built, but because they seem like they were always there, effortlessly belonging to the landscape.
When I was approached by the curators of the Urban Festival to do a project this year and that skyscrapers are the theme – I realised soon that I want to focus on those anonymous residential skyscrapers, those that shape the amazing skyline of Zagreb once dubbed “skyscraper plantation”. I wanted to put a spotlight on them, to find answers to simple questions: “who built them?”, “when they were built?”, “for whom they were built?”, “how did they transform since privatisation?”… and to share this curiosity and data with others. Some information will be put permanently on several skyscrapers, some will be on the website, and some will be told in person to those who will be interested in participating in the guided tour.
Photo: Damir Žižić
Dubravka Sekulić (1980, SRB) is an architect who studied in Belgrade, Serbia and recently finished a 2-year research period at the Design Department of the Jan van Eyck Academie, at the Post Academic Institute for Research and Production. She is a co-editor of the book “Surfing the Black” on Yugoslav black wave films in which she authored the chapter focusing on the conditions of the production of those films. She is currently working on a book tentatively titled “Glotz nicht so Romantisch!” in which she is exploring the relationship between laws regulating urban development and informal strategies used by developers. She was an easterneuropean fellow at Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart, Germany in 2008. Her work has been presented in exhibitions in Serbia, Europe and the United States.