Issue #39, 2011
Archive

Cities Log: the Struggle for Common Space
STEALTH.unlimited (Ana Dzokic & Marc Neelen)

The Cities Log is an ongoing chronology of spatial issues, depicting the often conflictuous developments of post-Yugoslav and Albanian cities in recent years. It reads like something in-between a crime scene investigation and an entertaining plot – however always touching upon the unfavourable reality of common interest today. While up until two decades ago cities like Belgrade, Kotor, Novi Sad, Podgorica, Prisˇtina, Pula, Skopje, Tirana or Zagreb developed largely outside the mechanisms of the real estate market, today privatisation, clientelism, and the creative abuse of legal instruments seem commonplace in a context impacted by “wild” urbanisation and swift shifts of capital investments – set within the horizon of a neoliberal context.

At the same time, slowly, but surely a counter force starts emerging that tackles specific cases of dominance of the urban space by privileged groups. Here and there inhabitants start organising themselves, civil organisations start turning their gaze to the city and journalists begin digging through the issues. With these first, uneasy struggles for common space taking shape, the fight for civil society and common interest is finally entering the physical domain of the city. This document is only a limited overview of urban issues from the period 2008–2010. It makes it obvious that the question – to whom belongs the city? – becomes increasingly relevant when the field of play – and indeed often literally the “ground” – in the city is drawn up and divided between various market forces, private interests, siding local governments and opposition forces.

As urgent as the issues addressed in the Cities Log may be within their own context, they also hint at a new engagement of citizens and professionals emerging in cities throughout the world. And it points to alternatives appearing from the cracks and ruptures of the highly individual and profit-driven development of contemporary cities – opening the horizon to different contri­bu­tions to and involvements in what the future of our cities could be.

 

 

Cities Log is compiled by STEALTH.unlimited (Ana Dzˇokic’ and Marc Neelen) and initiated on the occasion of the 4th T.I.C.A.B – Tirana International Contemporary Art Biannual (September–October 2009). Cities Log is part of the project Individual Utopias, supported by the Swiss Cultural Program (SCP) in the Western Balkans. In 2010, a special edition of the Cities Log has been made as part of the project A(u)ction, Novi Sad’s Log of Spaces Between Personal Interests and Public Needs, developed with New Media Centar_kuda.org (with Aleksandar Bede, Branka C’urcˇic’, Svetozar Krstic’, Zoran Pantelic’, Borka Stojic’ and Natasˇa Vujkov). In 2011–2012 Cities Log editions are under construction in Sarajevo and Novi Pazar.

Cities Log is made through conversations with and contributions by architects, urbanists, artists, journalists, civil groups: Besnik Aliaj, Jelena Atanackovic’-Jelicˇic’, Gjergj Bakallbashi, Branko Belac’evic’, Dafne Berc, Teodor Celakoski, Srdjan Crkvenjakov, Sotir Dhamo, Jovan Djeric’, Ulrike Franzel, Valon Germizaj, Boris Gigov, Zˇakilina Gligorijevic’, Adelina Greca, Zˇivko Grozdanic’, Astrit Hajrullahu, Florina Jerliu, Ruzˇica Jovanovic’, Aleksandra Kapetanovic’, Ivan Kucina, Kreativna zadruga (Slobodan Jovic’, Aleksandar Lukic’), Zˇivan Lazic’, Marko Miletic’, Vladimir Mitrovic’, Ilir Murseli, Oliver Musovik, Divna Pencˇic’, Darko Polic’, Pulska Grupa, Darko Reba, Dubravka Sekulic’, Petrit Selimi, Jelena Stefanovic’, Aneta Spaseska, Citizens’ Association Almasˇani (Aleksandar Cvetkovic’, Marijan Majin, Milosˇ Visˇkovic’), Borislav Vukic’evic’, Sinisˇa Zˇarin – and others.

 

 

 

Clientelism

– the tight integration of political leader­ship with business partners while closely exchanging favours between each other.

 

> Since four months mayor Igor Pavlicˇic’ delays to sign the act of land use transfer necessary for the (Municipally approved) construction of a new Museum of Contemporary Art of Vojvodina. Its location, in the former industrial area Chinatown, is marked in the urban plans as a “white spot”. There are indications that interest of real estate investors (like Dutch Vondel Capital) for the site has put the construction of the museum in question.

Novi Sad/January 2009

 

> On Medvednica Hill, above Zagreb, the richest Croatian businessman Todoric’ has registered Kulmer Castle as a hotel, although since its acquisition three years ago his family uses it as its private residence. Public use was the only condition given to Todoric’ to start reconstruction of duke Kulmers’ Castle from the 15th century. In an action to attract attention to irregularities related to construction in protected zones, the initiative Right to the City (Pravo na grad)brings buses full of citizens to the castle demanding to stay over in the “hotel”.

Zagreb/27 February 2009

 

> Activists of Right to the City and Green Action (Zelena akcija) promote “Muddy” (Mutna) – the top Zagreb “quality” product that stimulates corruption and favouritism. They hand out the (mud filled) bottles of water to the people entering the par­liament complex. The Muddy website gathers news related to corruption in the city of Zagreb.

Zagreb/31 March 2009

> On Facebook appears “Bandum Keric’” – the merged alter ego of the two most controversial top candidates for the mayor positions in Croatia’s two largest cities (Zagreb and Split). Soon journalists start using this alter ego when referring to the prob­lems of corruption and favouritism in Croatian political context.

Zagreb/April 2009

 

„The goal is to come to power and through public procurement for four years get as much money as possible, and then leave; and if they return for another four years – great. The aim is not to improve the environment; it is to win power.“

 

> Television B92 airs the first of the seven-part documentary Insider: Abuse of Office on construction mafia and corrup­tion. Circumstances around the new Shopping Mall Usˇc’e in New Belgrade are highlighted. Usˇc’e is constructed right in front of the former CK (Communist Party Central Committee) building – now a privatised office tower. The resulting public discus­sions on how the 5 ha of land was acquired by its developer – with no gain for either city or state – provokes the President of Serbia to launch a probe into the matter.

Belgrade/13 April 2009

 

> The three muddiest “substances” in Zagreb are elected through “Muddy” public campaign: 1) the sport Arena as a debt for future generations, 2) the case of Flower Square (Cvijetni Trg) and 3) polluted water in the new residential area Vrbani.

Zagreb/28 May 2009

 

> Exit Festival, a large, profit driven open-air music festival (sponsored with 750,000 euro – a large chunk of the city’s budget for culture) gets involved in the making of an Eco-Park. Despite public questioning, the city gives Exit a key role in this public work on Danube’s floodable riverbank; by investing in it 333,000 euro and giving Exit Festival its services free of charge. The prime use of the park will be lodging for Exit’s 20,000 camping visitors. On 4 July, just a few days before the festival starts, muddy waves wash away the public investment. Officials announced that in the future the park would be maintained as a public beach, without involvement of Exit.

Novi Sad/17 June 2009

 

> Private developer Hoto Group, can start the demolition of buildings on the Flower Square (Cvijetni Trg) in the city center of Zagreb despite an almost three-years long battle by the civil initiatives, revealing corruption and irregularities related to construction of the exclusive apartment block Flower Passage (Cvijetni prolaz), to be built here. Already in February 2007, Right to the City and Green Action organised a petition against the devastation of the square, collecting over 54,000 signa­tures. The only positive outcome: urban issues now have become a public matter.

Zagreb/12 August 2009

 

> Business.hr reports that the Todoric’ family received “the most beautiful Christmas present” from the City of Zagreb. They got issued a location permit for conversion of Kulmer Castle from hotel into residential building. With this conver­sion Todoric’s’ issues with property tax and “rough activists who want to spend the night in their hotel” have disappeared.

Zagreb/17 December 2009

 

> The European Commission this year again recognized the area of urban planning and inspections in Montenegro as one of the most vulnerable to corruption. Although these evalua­tions are repeated for years, very little or nothing has been done to improve the situation. The EU concludes that the role of the Montenegro’s Supreme State Prosecutor, Ranka Cˇarapic’, in all these scandals should have been clear – to protect public interest and state property.

Podgorica/13 November 2010

 

> Due to corruption related to the illegal construction at cape Zavala, close to Budva, the mayor and vice mayor of the Budva, and 9 of their associates are arrested. By purchasing over 44,000 m2 of land in mid-2007, the company Zavala Invest from Budva has started the construction of the tourist village Astra Montenegro. The company was founded by Russian Mirax Group from Moscow (owned by billionaire Sergei Polonski) and Moninvest from Budva, and is co-owned by the (previous) vice-president of the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists, Svetozar Marovic’ – the brother of the mayor of Budva.

Podgorica–Budva/24 December 2010

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Novi Sad Case: Chinatown

When a Museum becomes a bone in the throat

The future of the so-called Chinatown in Novi Sad lingers in uncertainty. Although this location is labelled a “white spot” – in planners slang a quarter with cultural or recreational destination – in reality such areas are reserved until a “better” activity is found. In recent years this industrial site has become great bait for a number of investment attempts. First, the unsuccessful site for the new Museum of Contemporary Art, then the unsuccess­ful tender location for (meanwhile bankrupt) Dutch–Ser­bian company Vondel Capital and currently the disputed location for the Museum of Forgotten Arts initiated by private company Manual Co. It remains vastly unclear on what basis its future will be decided – and by (or for) whom. City officials and plan­ners remain mute on the subject – awaiting the (next) best chance.

 

 

Privatisation

– an area for manipulations in the transition from collectively owned to privately owned property.

 

> With the action “Warsaw Street” (Varsˇavska ulica), civil organisations Right to the City and Green Action are marking the space in the main pedestrian street that will be used as an entrance to a large private parking garage. On 26 January they follow up with the action “Give Up” (Odustanite) organ­ised as a public call to the developer to quit the project.

Zagreb/18 January 2008

 

> Inhabitants of a neighbourhood in Vozˇdovac clash with the developers of a Vero Supermarket. For the construction of the supermarket their parking places have been taken. Citizens set construction equipment on fire.

Belgrade/July 2008

 

> The County of Istria rules that the former military area Muzil in Pula is to be merged with the Brijuni Riviera tourist develop­ment company. After almost 200 years of being a military zone, this area is now destined for the development of an exclusive golf course – and will thus stay closed to most of the citizens. In surface Muzil comprises 1/4 of the city and no civil inhabi­tant of Pula has ever been there.

Pula/8 July 2008

 

> Starchitect Daniel Liebeskind prepares a master plan for the conversion of the Port of Belgrade. Privatised under ambiguous conditions, the site is part of a dispute between the city and the new owners (local tycoons). In this battle over 220 ha of land, Liebeskind is an important PR tool for the developers.

Belgrade/Autumn 2008

 

> The Civil Initiative for Muzil is formed (to oppose the development of the exclusive golf course) and the first public session is held. The newspaper Open Muzil (Otvoreni Muzil) is pub­lished with a demand for permanent public access to the former military area.

Pula/23 January 2009

 

> The city authorities demand taking over management of the Cinema Arena, and forcibly evicting company Star Film (Zvezda film) from the cinema premises. Boris Gigov, director of Star Film, urges the city to review their decision because Arena has been seized from the cinema company with no compensation, although Star Film has built it from its own capital, on land purchased by its workers in the 1960s. The takeover is postponed until further notice after the workers of Star Film gather in protest outside the cinema. Since November 2008 only one cinema in Novi Sad is functional.

Novi Sad/11 February 2009

 

> As a result of pressure from the Civil Initiative for Muzil, the municipality and the County of Istria arrange a walk-through for the people of Pula. 11 buses bring people into the Muzilarea. The initiative states: “The opening of Muzil has begun, and it cannot be stopped anymore.”

Pula/8 March 2009

 

> The redevelopment of the Port of Belgrade pressures planners to adjust the General Urban Plan from 2002 and incorporate the conversion of large industrial areas into construction land.

Belgrade/Spring 2009

> While the Port of Belgrade dispute is in court, Djilas, the mayor of Belgrade promotes the very same Liebeskind’s (the opponents!) project at Belgrade’s official stand at the real-estate fair in Cannes, France.

Belgrade/23 April 2009

 

> The first official meeting of Croatian President Mesic’ and the new Prime Minister Kosor centres on the future of real estate (still) owned by the Ministry of Defence. Following the meeting, the Croatian press publishes sensational articles stating: “hectares of attractive state-owned land remain unused”. Muzil in Pula is one of these sites.

Zagreb/29 July 2009

 

„It is no wonder that these stories are very similar throughout the region: transition, the problematic privatization process, the way private initiative ‘entered’, real estate and construction; these laws are similar and they are changing along similar lines in all these cities.“

 

> Negotiations over the privatisation of the Belgrade Fairare stopped. Noteworthy: Since 2002, 424 privatisation contracts out of 2,504 in Serbia have been cancelled, mainly due to the failure by new owners to observe obligatory measures related to investment, social programs, production and integrity of property.

Belgrade/10 August 2009

 

> Right to the City and 4,000 citizens gather in protest against the announced works in Warsaw Street. A five meters tall wooden Trojan Horse is placed as the symbol of the protest and an obstacle to the bulldozers. During the night the com­munal police will destroy it. The next night riot police will arrest 23 activists that provide information related to the action “We Will Not Give Up on Warsaw Street”.

Zagreb/10–11 February 2010

 

> After 32 days of physical obstruction, encouraged by the reaction of the city officials, the activists of Right to the City will temporarily end the “Live Wall for Warsaw Street” which prevents the start of the construction works.

Zagreb/19 June 2010

 

> In Warsaw Street the construction of the access ramp for the Flower Passage garage starts with cutting trees during the night. Several months of protests by activists, which attempted to prevent construction with their own bodies, end with a mass demonstration. 152 activists are detained, together with representatives in Zagreb City Council.

Zagreb/15 July 2010

 

> On the fifth auction, for the marginal starting price of about 40,000 euro, company Star Film is sold to the recently established Aquatilus Group from Novi Sad – a company dealing with facility cleaning and foreign trade. The communal capital sold at the auction is estimated at 400,000 euro value. Aquatilus pledges to retain the original activity of the company during the next two years, with a minimum investment of 70,000 euro.

Novi Sad/29 October 2010

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Novi Sad Case: Star Film

A Cinema is Best Sold in Parts

The trajectory of the ownership of cinema company Star Film (Zvezda film) resembles a rollercoaster. Starting in 1953 from a few nationalized cinemas, in 1969 they built Cinema Arena (“one of the best cinemas in Eastern Europe”) by workers investment, from 2008 followed multiple rounds of (unsuccess­ful) auctions, in which the parts of Star Film suc­cessively get excluded from the package for privati­za­tion. Consultants on the privatization process, hired by the State Privatization Agency, were mainly agriculture engineers. Star Film today is completely fragmented, with the workers losing the most in the process. Out of their five cinemas today only one is operational – under provisional and uncertain conditions.

 

 

Real Estate

– in many countries in the region, real estate represents one of the main sectors of the economy. Some say that until recently 80% of the Albanian economy was comprised of the market-driven production of buildings.

 

> Vondel Capital Ltd. from Amsterdam announces the con­struction of residential-commercial complex Park City across Liman Park – the “largest real estate investment in Vojvodina”. Among Vondels’ founders are Bernhard van Oranje (member of the Dutch royal family) and Cor van Zadelhoff (prominent Dutch real estate agent). In this company, marketing itself with the “highest quality standard” in real estate business, except Zadelhoff, all the other members are software engi­neers in Levi9 Global Sourcing, registered at the same address as Vondel in Amsterdam.

Novi Sad/February 2008

 

>After a 3-year struggle to prevent the conversion of a local park into a construction site, citizens around Fifth Park (Peti park) succeed in holding back the developer. With a years-long front against the heavy machinery, and even establishing a 24-hour watch, they managed to attracted attention of the whole city and to disrupt demolition proceedings. Newly elect­­ed mayor Djilas, in one of his first public appearances, visits Fifth Park and promises that the development site will move elsewhere. After the Park is “saved”, inhabitants are left with the “victory” – a totally demolished site.

Belgrade/October 2008

 

> Serbian company Delta opens the first Delta City trade center in Podgorica, in which it has invested 60 million euro. The mall has a total floor area of 48,000 m2, with a gross leasable area of 24,000 m2. At the opening the prime ministers of Serbia, Montenegro and Republika Srpska, the mayors of Ljubljana and Skopje and numerous others are present.

Podgorica/1 October 2008

 

„All the possible resources coming from privatiza­tion, distribution of property, all money coming out of the war in one way or another, were spent and invested in real estate and that’s it.“

 

> Without adherence to an urban plan an initiative is launch­ed to build a 50 floors high-rise, by an alliance of investors who will each build 5 floors, the one-after-the-other. In a city that has limited water supply and is struggling with a lack of electrical power the decision of the municipality to permit this project is highly questionable.

Prisˇtina/November 2008

 

> Three months before the opening of the Universiade, the City bulldozes without proper warning 40 houses of the Roma settlement right next to the athletic village – housed in the new private residential area Belleville, planned for future sale. Public pressure halts the total erasure of the settlement. In June remains of the settlement are fenced-off and the electricity is cut. Universiade volunteers are instructed to tell the foreign visitors that the site is a film set. Noteworthy: During 2009 Serbia holds the Presidency of the Decade of Roma Inclusion, with housing as one of the decades’ priority issues.

Belgrade/April 2009

 

> The 25th Universiade takes place. By the beginning of 2010 the majority of the apartments in the athletic village – built for market sale (price 1,800 euro/m2) – are not yet sold.

Belgrade/1–14 July 2009

 

> “Porto Montenegro”, the Montenegrin entry at the 2008 Architecture Biennale in Venice, receives the most prestigious state award. The entry promotes the luxury marina and adjacent waterfront development under construction in Tivat, Bay of Kotor. Of the 118 years old Arsenal on this location (bought in 2006 by a Canadian businessman), all apart from one of the old buildings are demolished.

Bay of Kotor/13 July 2009

 

> The State Building Authority issues an advertisement for the auction of seven military facilities in Novi Sad. The largest complex on offer covers 19 hectares, with 34 buildings. The tender very soon disappears from public sight.

Novi Sad/7 March 2010

 

> Instead of the announced 30,000 m2, the apartment-office complex Park City has reached 60,000 m2 by transgression of the allowed height permits and changes to the project. The building counts 280 dwellings and luxury apartments; construc­tion price is about 45,000 euro. 

Novi Sad/11 March 2010

 

> In the last four years only 19 out of an estimated 447 mili­tary complexes (4,870 ha of land and 2,196 buildings) have been sold or exchanged with local governments. In 2006, the Serbian government adopted a Master Plan according to which, by the end of 2010, all these complexes should be sold through public auction or ceded to local governments (for a fee or exchange of property in the form of flats) – but solely according to market criteria. In most cases cities do not have the necessary budget reserves or housing, which could be used in the exchange for these often strategically important urban locations.

Serbia/10 May 2010

 

> Completion of the three largest residential-commercial developments in Novi Sad is on hold: Bulevar Center, Park City and Zoned. According to the plans, first inhabitants of the luxury complex Park City should have moved in during October 2009.

Novi Sad/27 July 2010

 

> The number of apartments built in Novi Sad during 2009 is about 20 times lower than in previous years. The Union of Con­struction Workers reveals alarming statistics: in 2006 there were 18,162 apartments built, in 2007 – 19,049, 2008 – 19,800, and in 2009 only 1,242. Of them, just 72 dwellings have been sold. Noteworthy: between 1945 and 1999 in total 50,000 buildings have been made in Novi Sad.

Novi Sad/6 August 2010

 

> Out of “Christian motives“, Aleksandar Construction (Alek­sandar gradnja) from Novi Sad takes over Dutch Vondel Capital and its exclusive Park City project. Vondel has gone bankrupt and its debt has grown to 35 million euro. The unfinished buildings are transferred without payment, but with the assumption of all liabilities to customers and debts in the Raiffeisen Bank. The former director of Aleksandar Construction (also a former director of the Novi Sad branch of Raiffeisen Bank) becomes the new director of Vondel Capital. The Dutch investors decide to stop any further investments in Novi Sad.

Novi Sad/10–16 August 2010

 

> Citizen’s Initiative Srdj is Ours is formed. Zagreb activists of Right to the City and Green Actionhave joined them to oppose the “apartmantisation” of Srdj (the belvedere hill above the city), under the guise of a golf course construction. The initiatives create pressure to reject through a public hearing the proposal of the Urban Plan for Srdj – that would leave the last strategic area for expansion of the city solely to the interest of individuals and capital.

Dubrovnik–Zagreb/September 2010

 

> Hoto Group announces start of apartments sale in the complex Flower Passage. On sale are a total of 56 apartments, of which 46 in the size of 65 to 230 m2, and five top luxury split-level penthouses from 300 to 435 m2, nicknamed by the investor Zagreb Crystals. Prices range is from 5,000–8,500 euro/m2.

Zagreb/14 October 2010

 

> Following Flower Passage case, newspaper Jutarnji List publishes the news that Office for Combat of Corruption and Organized Crime (USKOK) makes a special investigation into the practice of the Zagreb City Government to change spatial plans by using extra-legal procedures, which favour private investors at the expense of public interest.

Zagreb/November 2010

 

> Public company Office Premises (Poslovni prostor) and the City of Novi Sad are bringing up plans to rebuild the inhabited historic surrounding of Petrovaradin Fortress, and to convert it to a not clearly defined purpose. In some statements focus is put on preserving cultural and historical heritage, and in others, on touristic and market purposes. Office Premises will regulate the use of space in the area, and music festival Exit is mentioned as one of the main users.

Novi Sad/21 November 2010

 

> The construction of four residential-commercial buildings in Novi Sad is announced. The Office Premises will offer them to the inhabitants of the historic surrounding of Petrovaradin Fortress, in exchange for their apartments. Most of the new buildings sites are under dispute and are unlicensed for construction.

Novi Sad/23 November 2010

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Novi Sad Case: Military Complexes

Pimps of Valuable Sites

Six military complexes – on key locations in Novi Sad – will be demilitarized and put on tender. As a privileged, first bidder, the city has the opportunity to obtain these locations, but at the same time it is also obliged to pay for them from the city budget to the Ministry of Defence. The chief obstacle, however, is the lack of vision and finances to develop such loca­tions for common use, ie. for public purpose. Although a non-profit party, controversially, the city will most likely buy and resell the best sites to private investors, regardless of their public potential and of their current content.

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Novi Sad case: Fortress and its Surrounding

Cannibalised for profit?

The Petrovaradin Fortress, with its dilapidated historical surrounding, may seem an undeveloped part of Novi Sad, but it is ideal for profit gains based on cultural and historical values. The main players are already in starting position, because in the game are surplus military complexes, the cheap real estate of its small-scale housing quarters, and the potential to get labelled as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Inhabitants are silently being offered replacement housing in other parts of the city, so that their renovated and re-arranged apartments could become part of a profitable tourist attraction – unavoidably involving the Exit music festival.

 

 

Legislation and legalisation

– intended to be regulatory tools, however in reality they become means to deregulate city and society.

 

> Association A Thousand Victims is founded in order to improve position of real estate buyers in Serbia. It is initiated by people that years ago bought apartments from now legally blocked real estate companies Stankom and Delta Legal on the location Film City. Their apartments, like those of many cheated and mistreated real estate buyers in Serbia, are still unfinished.

Belgrade/June 2008

 

> In an emergency procedure, Croatian Parliament passes a Law on Golf Courses, declaring golf a service of national importance. Part of a future golf course can be used for real estate development and up to 20% of the area needed can be expropriated. On the same day, a Law on Agricultural Land is passed, which allows remediation of agricultural land into a golf course without compensation, opening a huge area for manipulation.

Zagreb/18 December 2008

 

> The Strategic Plan for Development of Prisˇtina 2040, made by three Germans institutes in 2001, calls for clear zoning in three different areas. It is long outdated and impossible to implement, as the areas in the meantime drastically changed without correspondence to the plan.

Prisˇtina/2009

 

> Following Kosovo’s independence, the new economic reality (with private investments, bank loans and international donors’ conferences) creates a context for massive investment in – unregulated – construction. Thousands of illegal buildings arise in Prisˇtina. The difficulty to obtain building permits further boosts illegality. In 2008 only some 60 permits were granted.

Prisˇtina/2009

 

> A large-scale campaign and petition by citizens and NGOs aims at rejecting a Location Study and Strategic Environmental Assessment for St. Marco Island in Bay of Kotor. Instead of the existing modest Club Mediterané facility, the new plan projects large-scale tourist facilities and the enlargement of the islands by cementing the sea area at over 100,000 m2.

Bay of Kotor/20 January 2009

 

> Green Action, Transparency International Croatia, GONG and Green Istria file a formal complaint at the Croatian Constitutional Court against the controversial Law on Golf Courses, arguing that it is violating 10 articles of the Constitution.

Zagreb/February 2009

> Some 300 villagers in Posavina, south of Zagreb, start a legal battle to protect 127 hectares of their arable land – land that the state wants to assign to businessmen for a golf course. They wonder why, instead of occupying their agricultural plots, the golfers do not get access to the nearby 1,200 hectares of state-owned land.

Zagreb/22 February 2009

 

> The minister for environment and spatial planning states that after the introduction of the 2003 Construction and Planning Law, unsuccessful legislation resulted in 50,000 new illegal buildings in Belgrade. Since that time, the presence of construction credits has only served to make illegal/extra-legal investments much more solid.

Belgrade/April 2009

 

> A temporary law on procedures and conditions of construction as an incentive of investment is put in action. It simplifies bureaucratic procedures for client and omits the necessity of a site permit in the process of construction. This law will be valid until the end of 2010.

Zagreb/5 June 2009

 

> The land purchase frenzy along the future ring road of Belgrade is propelled by the expected change of land use in the Master Plan. The plan includes the conversion of about 800 ha of agricultural land to sites for technology parks. The price of the land, after the land-use conversion, is expected to be 40 times higher then currently.

Belgrade/18 June 2009

 

> Initiative Protect Zvezdara Forest gets organized to oppose the conversion of 2.45 ha of forest into construction land for the expansion of a hospital and the construction of a church. It is the second recent initiative that asks consultancy from the successful Fifth Park Initiative.

Belgrade/August 2009

 

> The NGO Archis Intervention Prisˇtina completes a “Manual on Legalisation of Structures Built Without Construction Permits”.

Prisˇtina/August 2009

 

> The minister for protection of the environment and spatial planning calls for all illegally built buildings in Serbia to get finished before the new Law on Planning and Construction is passed by Parliament. Once the law is there, it will be far more difficult to legalise, but much faster to get building permits, says the minister.

Belgrade/27 August 2009

 

> The new Law on Planning and Construction, which also regulates the legalization of buildings constructed without per­mits until May 2003, takes effect. At the time of the application deadline for the legalisation procedure in March 2010, on the territory of Serbia over 700,000 requests will be handed in, out of which 37,000 in Novi Sad – one third of the total amount of buildings in that city.

Novi Sad/11 September 2009

 

> MANS (Network for Affirmation of the NGO Sector) from Podgorica initiates an action against the devastation of the UNESCO protected area Lipci in the Bay of Kotor. Here an undisclosed private investor without permission mines the coastal area and disposes waste material into the sea. Inspectors who visit the mining site are thrown into the sea.

Bay of Kotor/12 September 2009

 

> The majority of inhabitants of the settlements Telep, Adice, Klisa, Sajlovo, and Little Bosnia in Novi Sad get electricity supply through illegal connections. Novi Sad inhabitants’ electricity debt is around 188 million euro.

Novi Sad/29 November 2009

> Initiative Right to the City and more than 600 citizens present legal issues related to the Detailed Plan of the contested block on Flower Square to the Urbanistic Inspection of the Ministry of Environment, Physical Planning and Construction.

Zagreb/February 2010

 

> The president of the Croatian Helsinki Committee states in an open letter to the Prime Minister of Croatia Jadranka Kosor that the “Law on Golf Courses conceals 40 billion worth of theft”.

Zagreb/February 2010

 

> Amendments to the 2009 Law on Planning and Construc­tion are in preparation, related to property relations and acceleration of procedures. Since the City of Belgrade has no valid regulations for building location permits and land conversion rights (from the right of use to the right of ownership), no building permits have been issued already for four months.

Belgrade/July 2010

 

> The Constitutional Court discovers irregularities in the latest changes to Skopje’s Detail Urban Plan. Thanks to the appeal by Professor Miroslav Grcˇev, the latest plan is cancelled. Despite all, the government does not care about the court’s decision. It pushes the continuation of all works started.

Skopje/July 2010

 

> In agreement with the IMF, the Government of Serbia adopts a decision (though not yet a law) to increase property taxes, especially on luxury homes, yachts and cars. Local governments are particularly interested in this because the revenues would enter their municipal budgets. However, those who would pay the tax revolt because by this Serbia establishes the most expensive property taxes in the region, while municipalities sell construction land to investors at prices below market value.

Serbia/13 July 2010

 

> By implementing a single register, in the future every customer will be able to check reliability of the developer of his or her future property – before signing a contract to buy an apartment. The assumption is that this procedure will prevent numerous cases of double or even triple apartments purchase.

Serbia/24 August 2010

 

> The County rejects the proposed Urban Development Plan that would turn Srdj hill into a golf course with a tourist village. The plan by far exceeds the construction parameters regulated by the regional Urban Plan.

Dubrovnik/September 2010

 

> Out of 37,000 applications submitted for legalization, the city administration manages to process only 1,000 – in half a year time.

Novi Sad/27 September 2010

 

> Despite threats, members of the association Southern Boulevard 128 decide to hire private security guards, take over their (yet unfinished) apartments and change the locks on the apartments and the construction site. They negotiate about the ways in which they could themselves complete the works and finally be able to move into their apartments – under construction since 2003. Some of the flats have been twice or more times sold to different owners. The developer is under arrest.

Belgrade/October 2010

 

 

Building Identity

– in “transitional” societies, (public) investments play a role as tools in identity shaping – from antique to EUropean.

> Construction starts on the Museum of the Macedonian Struggle and Museum for the Victims of Communism, initiated and financed by the Ministry of Culture. In the architectural competition, the only neo-classical entry wins. Since the last national elections, a quasi “antique” style is favoured in order to enforce Macedonia’s newly emerging history.

Skopje/2008

 

> The French film Banlieue 13: Ultimatum, produced by Luc Besson, is shot in the blocks of New Belgrade. New Belgrade depicts an apocalyptic Paris ghetto of 2013. At the end of the film, New Belgrade (aka District 13) is blown up for the sake of a new and improved multi-cultural city.

Belgrade/August 2008

 

> Since an Irish–Montenegrin company bought it in 2006, Hotel Fjord (one of the largest in Kotor), locked and looted, awaits demolition. Without consultations with the city, the first “Disney” like proposal for a new hotel appears in the newspaper in 2006. It is made by state initiated public company Coastal Good (Morsko dobro) – formed to manage and develop the coast of Montenegro. Most of their plans are made without agreement with the coastal cities, while the profits of development and privatization go to the State. Coastal Good is popularly referred to as “Coastal Evil”.

Bay of Kotor/19 January 2009

 

> The Moscow Bridge (Moskovski most) opens on the Libera­tion Day in Podgorica. This pedestrian bridge is a gift in part from Moscow (60%) while the City pays 40%. The position of the bridge stands outside the flow of people; but does serve the investor’s ambition – a new, closer association with Russia.

Podgorica/19 December 2008

 

> Mother Theresa House opens in Skopje’s pedestrian zone. The eclectic building, placed in the midst of the modernist city centre, provokes intense reactions.

Skopje/30 January 2009

 

> After the polemics to build the new Orthodox church on the Macedonia Square, the main city square, reach their peak, the construction meets new problems. A main sewer collector passes right under the future church location, for which the mayor demands re-routing of the pipe, while engineers stand to the point that this is not feasible. Then, the Muslim community requests that the mosque that was here before 1930 gets rebuilt. Finally, on a public tender just one construction company (Granit) makes a bid – for 16 million euro. The price level puts the construction of the church on hold.

Skopje/Spring 2009

 

> 10 years after being destroyed by NATO bombing, the Avala TV Tower is re-built, reminiscent of the design from the 1960s. Today such TV towers are technologically outdated.

Belgrade/29 April 2009

 

> The focus of the debate on the future of Macedonia Square shifts from the planned Orthodox Church to the proposed statue of Alexander the Great (22 m tall, at a cost of 4,5 million euro).

Skopje/7 May 2009

 

> The project Stadium of Culture gets actualised. This 2004 initiative from Center for New Media kuda.org revives the devastated handball court in the Danube Park into a public sport and cultural facility. In Spring 2009, in agreement with the City to push the project forward, recommendations from the Association of Architects and approval of the Republican Institute for Natural Protection for possible implementation have been arranged. Now, the Stadium could get financed through international funding and local sponsorship, so that its implementation would not charge the city budget. Curiously enough, the Municipality remains uncooperative.

Novi Sad/Autumn 2009

 

> A campaign to promote the newly finished Boulevard of Europe is launched.

Novi Sad/10 November 2010

 

> The new Economic Development Strategy of Novi Sad is financed by USAID. On the occasion of launching the Strategy, U.S. Ambassador Mary Warlick states that tourism and agriculture are economies on which Novi Sad should base its development.

Novi Sad/27 November 2009

 

> Fresh changes of the Detailed Urban Plan for the center of Skopje introduce 50 sculptures, 20 large statues, one obelisk, triumphant gates, glass-paved bridge with 15 sculptures, church on the main square... and a strip of public buildings right on the bank of the Vardar River. Instead of a public space along the river and the planned cultural complex around the modernist Macedonian Opera and Ballet, the city will get a „wall“ of neo-antique buildings comprising the Constitutional Court, Ministry of Interior, etc.

Skopje/January 2010

 

> The controversial promotional video “Skopje 2014” – a visualization of the project to renovate the city center in quasi-antique style – is finally released to Macedonian media. Public reactions range from praise to resentment and disbelief. Since 2007, over 20 million euro has been invested preparing the project. It is estimated that by 2014 the costs will amount to 90–100 million euro.

Skopje/5 February 2010

 

> Newspaper Jutarnji List states that “Americans are interested in realizing a Guggenheim Museum in Pula, alongside millions of dollars worth of investments in tourist, residential and other activities”. If realized, this would be the largest U.S. investment in Croatia, and would put Pula on the prestigious map of Gug­gen­heim Museums that includes New York, Venice, Berlin and Bilbao. The Museum in Bilbao annually counts more than a million visitors, employs 4,500 people and contributes 1.8 billion euro to Spanish GDP, but the one in Las Vegas failed, and the planned one in Rio de Janeiro was never realized.

Pula/13 June 2010

 

> Guggenheim headquarter in New York denies the news about the construction of a Guggenheim Museum in Pula, although the news was confirmed by the Office of the Prime Minister of Croatia, Jadranka Kosor. The question remains whether the prime minister deliberately deceived the citizens, or the government forgot to check the reliability of the rumours, says Novi List newspaper.

Pula/17 June 2010

 

> While major art museums in Belgrade are closed for reconstruction for over 5 years, on the outskirts of the city a specific range of independent cultural institutions is taking shape. In addition to the Museum Macura in Banovci (built by a Vienna based collector Vladimir Macura), International Test Side Z1 in Ritopek (by Dragan Ilic’, an artist from New York and Belgrade), the Free Art Cooperative Third Belgrade in Krnjacˇa emerges – self-initiated by eight artists. RTV Serbia broadcasts the TV show “Art Zone: Danube Art Trail” about this alternative artistic route along the Danube River.

Belgrade–Danube/July 2010

 

> Municipality Cˇair presents the plan for a new Skanderbeg Square (in the so-called Albanian part of town). Compared to the main Macedonia Square, this one should be twice the size, with no sculptures and other objects imposed on the public space.

Skopje/September 2010

 

> Construction of classicist Triumphant Gate in the city center starts. Although this time most of the people are against the project, nothing can stop its realization.

Skopje/November 2010

 

> The fifth and last edition of the festival “Operation: City” takes place in the Factory Unity (Pogon Jedinstvo), the inde­pendent cultural club Swamp (Mocˇvara), the Autonomous Cultural Center Medika and former distillery Badel. Focusing on the potential of former factories as centers for Zagreb’s independent culture, it shows new forms of public life and possible directions for the city development.

Zagreb/24 September–3 October 2010

 

 

Infrastructure

– one of the few domains in which serious public investment is made, but also an area that easily lends itself to the re-routing of large amounts of money.

 

> Belgrade’s newly appointed mayor Dragan Djilas states: “If this administration lasts for four years, I see Belgrade with one [new] bridge constructed, with resolved infrastructural prob­lems, better traffic – as a light and clean city.”

Belgrade/19 August 2008

 

> After 18 years of delay, a section of the ring road around Belgrade is finally opened.

Belgrade/November 2008

 

> Two sports halls in Futog and Klisa, built as a pre-election promise of the Radical Party government, took last year expen­diture of 300,000 euro from public company Office Premises – for maintenance alone. From November 2008, also a modern indoor swimming pool in Klisa, whose construction costs five million euro, is added to the strained public budget. In June 2010 it becomes clear that because of a high rental price these facilities are used to a minimum extent.

Novi Sad/January 2009

 

> Construction of the Bridge over Ada Ciganlija starts, the first bridge to be built in Belgrade in 38 years. The construc­tion is financed with a credit from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Belgrade/1 December 2008

 

> Negotiations start between the Serbian and Chinese gov­ernments on a new bridge over the Danube between Zemun and Borcˇa. The Chinese government will finance it through a loan from their Export Bank. It requires that Chinese compa­nies be commissioned for construction, even though Serbian companies have enough expertise. The bridge opens the potential for a new city district – the Third Belgrade – to be developed on agricultural land.

Belgrade/May 2009

 

> Just days before the elections, Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha presents another milestone to his government’s credit – a newly completed section of the highway linking Durrës with Kosovo, dubbed the Patriotic Highway. Critics however raise questions about its timing and financing.

Kosovo–Durrës/25 June 2009

 

> The City of Zagreb puts on public discussion the plan for a waste incinerator plant. The local community and NGOs for ecology oppose the plan and advocate the construction of a biological and mechanical waste treatment facility instead.

Zagreb/10 July 2009

 

> As part of the art project “Flux Beneath Us”, Nebojsˇa Milikic’ et al./Cultural Center Rex, map a potential sewer system to be collectively made by citizens in Kaludjerica, the largest “illegally” built neighbourhood in Belgrade.

Belgrade/Kaludjerica August 2009

 

> The City of Belgrade announces the reconstruction of Belgrade’s longest street, Boulevard of King Alexander, without releasing the conditions under which the project will be carried on. Soon it appears its plane trees – the symbol of the boulevard since the 1920s – will have to be cut due to ill health. Despite reports of the Faculty of Forestry (from 2006 and 2008) that the trees are in good condition and consider­able public opposition, the works start.

Belgrade/February 2010

 

> In the early morning, on this day when the first cutting of plane trees is planned on the Boulevard of King Aleksandar, Vladimir Zˇivanovic’, 24 year-old graduate student of Chinese language, chooses the tree number 198 and starts guarding it round the clock – to keep it from cutting. In five days, he collects 2,260 signatures and begins a public campaign to save the tree. On June 25, after 119 days of guarding endurance, and despite the earlier agreement to save it, the tree has been cut under police protection.

Belgrade/26 February 2010

 

> Ivan Kucina and his students from the Faculty of Architec­ture outline the contours of the new Fifth Park on site. Their project results from an eight-months work process with the inhabitants around the park, and is the first self-initiated archi­tectural project of its kind in Belgrade. Almost two years after the tough struggle against the construction of an office building on “their” little park succeeded, none of the city institutions took over responsibility for the rehabilitation of the park, which still stands demolished.

Belgrade/1 May 2010

 

> The City of Belgrade starts the action “Present for the Boulevard” to collect funds for new plane trees, to replace the ones already cut during reconstruction of the street. Citizens and businesses are invited to “buy“ one of 450 trees that will carry name of the sponsor when planted.

Belgrade/June 2010

 

> The 1.5 million euro contract for a new bridge on the remain­ing stubs of the Bridge Franz Josef (demolished in the WW2) gets signed. The bridge will have four traffic lanes and two tunnels under the Fortress. It is estimated that construction will cost between 30 and 40 million euro. Experts believe that the construction of the tunnel threatens the stability of the Fortress, as well as its UNESCO World Heritage candidacy.

Novi Sad/July 2010

 

> The Novi Sad Bicycle Initiative is formed after the citizens revolt “Bike Revolution Now”, which took place on the occa­sion of the sudden and vigorous ticketing of cyclists in the pedestrian area.

Novi Sad/July 2010

 

> Three places to rent city bicycles are opened and the pro­ject becomes a sudden success. However, only a month later, due to poor control, neglect of citizens and poor city infra­structure, most of the bikes are damaged. Three months earlier architecture students voluntarily designed the city’s bike paths – a gift neglected by the city.

Skopje/August 2010

> Public company Parking Service introduces parking charges in residential area Grbavica. The residents revolt, pointing out that the new parking places are drawn over ruined streets, devastated sidewalks, and even in the mud. Residents petition against the charges, and on Facebook a group “Stop the Offence of Parking Service in Novi Sad” forms, with 6,500 members.

Novi Sad/22 August 2010

 

> Without a clear mandate, company Parking Service effectively takes over open public spaces in Novi Sad to capitalise on them. Opposite to the decision made following an architectural competition in 2005, to use Trifkovic’ Square as a pedestrian zone, they turned it from a temporary parking into a permanent one. Grain Square gets these days transformed in similar manner: “We will change the asphalt, which is full of holes, and get a nice parking surface“, the Parking Servis says.

Novi Sad/16 October 2010

 

> The announcement that the City of Belgrade will take another 90 million euro loan from the European Investment Bank for access road constructions to the new Bridge over Ada Ciganlija, fans the already existing doubts that this ambitious project is a financial bottomless pit. This fourth loan indicates that the original budget of 160 million euro for the bridge was miscalculated and that a total of 290 million euro will be loaned (to which another 120 million in interest should be added).

Belgrade/November 2010

 

> Russian loans will be used for continuation of the (1977 initiated) construction of the new Central Railway Station Prokop and Belgrade’s railway node – this would introduce Russian companies to the construction works. Two years prior, an agreement had been made with Belgrade based Energo­projekt to complete the station in just 18 months.

Belgrade/November 2010

 

> By placing the foundation stone of the future Bridge of Chinese–Serbian Friendship, Serbian President Boris Tadic’ and the President of the Permanent Committee of the Chinese People’s Congress, Wu Banguo, symbolically start construc­tion of the new bridge over the Danube. China’s Export–Import Bank credits the construction and the contractor of the 170 million euro project, is the China Road and Bridge Corporation.

Belgrade/November 2010

 

> The team of Discovery Channel records in Belgrade a broadcast on the construction of the Bridge over Ada Ciganlija, which when completed will be the third highest single-pylon bridge in Europe.

Belgrade/November 2010

 

 

The Role of Profession

– architects and urban planners are important but relatively powerless actors in the harsh economy of real-estate development. Are non-institutional groups at the margins of profession its remaining consciousness?

 

> In a change to the Law on Local Self-Government, the two respective positions of Member of the City Council for Urban Planning and City Architect are reduced to one single position.

Novi Sad/May 2008

 

> High competition awards in Macedonia keep architects busy. Kapital Magazine reveals who profits: the single-day fee for a jury member is the equivalent of two-month’s salary at the Faculty of Architecture.

Skopje/June 2008

> 10 assistants of the Faculty of Architecture in Podgorica collectively resign due to disagreements and the impossibility of dialogue with the dean. The assistants, belonging to the first generation of teachers of the Faculty, established in 2002, are some of the best young Montenegrin architects.

Podgorica/18 June 2008

 

> The monthly Kvart Magazine is launched. This privately owned magazine for architecture, design and lifestyle is currently the only magazine in Serbia dealing with architec­ture on a regular basis. After 18 issues, produced by con­tributing enthusiasts, it will subside in summer 2010 because of a lack of finances.

Belgrade/September 2008

 

> Platforma 9.81 – Institute for Architecture Research, an NGO that for years tracks down the white and black spots of the Zagreb’s urban planning and transition, initiates a temporary social centre for cultural and community events for this area of Zagreb in the defunct Cinema Mosor, currently in the hands of the Croatian Privatization Fund.

Zagreb/3 October 2008

 

> The conference “The Neoliberal Frontline: Urban Struggles in Post-Socialists Societies”, held in Cinema Mosor, questions spatial and social changes in the contemporary city.

Zagreb/4–7 December 2008

 

> The four-year project SIRP (Settlement and Refugees Pro­gram in Serbia), initiated by UN Habitat in Serbia, gets finalised with the realisation of seven pilot social housing projects in Serbian smaller cities – an exceptional participatory process that involved local governments, local NGOs and architects.

Belgrade–Serbia/December 2008

 

“There was no longer word about aesthetics of architecture or urban design, because the development of the city got reduced to the size of the plot, not to some broader areas, or settlements.“

 

> Complaints are made that due to a longstanding lack of a new director following the national elections, the Urban Plan­ning Institute is “not producing locations” for new developments.

Belgrade/end 2008

 

> Since the early 1990s no individual licensing for architects exists, but companies (like supermarkets) can be licensed as architecture firms. At the same time four different ministries have their own construction departments.

Prisˇtina/2009

 

> The design of all public and (significant) private buildings from now on has to be made through architectural competition. So far, administration officials themselves took decisions on the design of schools, public buildings, kindergartens, etc. Still, there are no legal means by which the investor is obliged to comply with the winning competition project.

Novi Sad/January 2009

 

> At the Faculty of Architecture, in a discussion with Daniel Liebeskind about his Master Plan for the Port of Belgrade, the main question posed is how public interest can be guaranteed for 50% of land planned for a public park within this prime location which is to be privately developed?

Belgrade/February 2009

 

> The First Archi Brigade –a few hundred students of architecture and citizens unsatisfied with the positioning of the future Orthodox Church on Skopje’s main square – which “defies any logic of urban planning” – organise the “First Architectural Uprising”. Mobilised by a call from a popular TV show, a mob of ’believers’ attacks them.

Skopje/28 March 2009

 

> The site Skopje2803.blogspot collects and presents fragments of the public discussions provoked by the “First Architectural Uprising” in Skopje.

Skopje/29 March 2009

 

> The NGO Expeditio makes, in collaboration with the Faculty of Architecture Podgorica, a study about Kostanjica (a UNESCO protected area) on the invitation of the Municipality of Kotor. This is the first project that takes not only architecture, but also the landscape into consideration as heritage.

Bay of Kotor/29 March 2009

 

> The First Archi Brigade announces: “We are the First Archi Brigade, a spontaneously gathered informal group of students of architecture and citizens . . . We cannot and do not want to shut our eyes to the fact that in our city the placement and construction of [new] buildings is done in a completely faulty manner, which leads to the successive destruction of the city centre.”

Skopje/31 March 2009

 

> Right to the City and Green Action organise the round table “What Kind of City do We Want?” and present the publication Zagreb As We Wish It, put together by the Urbanistic Council of Green Action. This is their self-initiated contribution towards the development strategy for the future Zagreb.

Zagreb/29 April 2009

 

> The International conference Forum Skopje is organised on the topic “The Aftershock of Postmodernism”, with the aim to incite a revision and critical analysis of the recent urban plans and decisions in the city. None of the invited representatives of official authorities shows up.

Skopje/8–14 June 2009

 

„Everyone is afraid of public discussion. It will disturb public opinion.“

 

> At the 4th Belgrade International Week of Architecture the topic “What With New Belgrade?” is discussed. It picks up on an 8 years long debate on how to revitalise the large modern­ist housing blocks.

Belgrade/4 July 2009

 

> After three academic years, the Polis University – Interna­tional School of Architecture and Urban Development in Tirana receives full university accreditation. It has been initiated by Co-PLAN, a non-profit organisation developing civil society and empowering community participation in urban develop­ment since 1995. Their first projects focused on opening roads and enabling basic infrastructure in the informally built neighbourhoods of Tirana.

Tirana/22 July 2009

 

> A year after a new city government was constituted and a mayor has been appointed, the position of the City Architect and City Manager remain vacant.

Belgrade/August 2009

 

> The conference “Post-Capitalist City”, organised by Pulska Grupa, an informal group of architects from Pula, takes place on the former military grounds of Muzil, leading to the “Declaration of Communal” (komunal) – land that is neither state, nor privately-owned, but communal.

Pula/16 August 2009

 

> NGO Expeditio starts the project “Educating Youth/Children About the Values of Space”. Practical implementation of the project is in support of the efforts of the Institute for Educa­tion of Montenegro to introduce the subject “The Values of Space” in schools.

Kotor/September 2009

 

> In a lack of an official urban plan from the City, the Archi­tecture Department of the Faculty of Technical Sciences organ­izes a master studio in collaboration with private company The Manual Co., in which 60 students of architecture re-design Manual’s block on the route of the future Sombor Boulevard.

Novi Sad/Autumn 2009

 

> The local branch of online forum Skyscrapercity.com has developed into lively citizens discussion on a wide range of topics related to architecture, infrastructure, legalization and clientelism in conjunction with social and political influences.

Novi Sad/2000–2010

 

> Hotel Centar, by architect Branislav Mitrovic’, opens in the city center. Firstly conceived as the main office of Meat Industry Matijevic’, its design has been significantly modified during the construction and turned into a hotel – thanks to the lack of legislative means to enforce the winning result of the original architectural competition. Since the opening, the building arouses many reactions of citizens and experts. Citizens start the Facebook group “Hotel Matijevic’, The Ugliest Building in Novi Sad”, with over 11,000 members. In March 2011, Hotel Centar receives the Grand Prix at Belgrade’s Salon of Archi­tecture.

Novi Sad/1 January 2010

 

> Four years after the start of the citizen’s protest against the devastation of the Flower Square, the professional associations of architects of Zagreb and Croatia present a statement condemning the project Flower Passage and plea to review the decision-making toward the project.

Zagreb/February 2010

 

> With the center of the main square fenced with large white panels, the construction of megalomaniacal fountain with the statue of Alexander the Great can begin. The First Archi Brigade perceives this setting as a great city gallery and organizes a students’ exhibition on the anniversary of “The First Architectural Uprising”. All passers-by can see the projects dedicated to Skopje and its current architectural and urban situation.

Skopje/28 March 2010

 

> The exhibition “Fifth Park – The Struggle for Everyday Life”, made by a group of artists, architects and sociologists on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the struggle for the Fifth Park, examines how citizens can organize themselves to fight for their rights in urban space and how the knowledge gained through this struggle can be recorded and exchanged.

Belgrade/June 2010

 

> “Who Built the City?”, a series of open talks on the development of cities in the post-Yugoslav region and with a wide and confrontational range of participants is held at Cultural Centre Rex, co-organized by the Group 484 and STEALTH.unlimited.

Belgrade/17–19 June 2010

 

> After 20 years, the first international architectural competition in Belgrade and Serbia –  for the Center for Promotion of Scientific in Block 39 in New Belgrade – is announced.

Belgrade/October 2010

 

> Broadcasting premiere of the first out of 35 short TV shows “My City – My Home”; a series prepared by the Ministry of Spatial Planning and Environment and TV Atlas, in coopera­tion with NGO Expeditio. The shows aim to encourage sustainable development of Montenegrin towns, through the activi­ties in which citizens can directly participate. The broadcasts are on Fridays at 5 PM, in the program “Life is Beautiful”.

Podgorica/Kotor/15 October 2010

 

> Within the campaign “Open About Public Spaces” organization Civic Initiatives starts the mapping of unused, underused or unfinished facilities in Belgrade and Serbia. Through the site Javniprostori.org citizens themselves can report vacant spaces.

Belgrade/15 November 2010

 

„Only through a continuity of the struggle we came to something, for there is here no shortcut to anything.“

 

> At the meeting of the City Assembly, a revised plan for the Almasˇki Neighbourhood in Novi Sad is adopted, based on an alternative proposal drafted by the Citizens’ Association Almasˇani.

Novi Sad/26 November 2010

...............................................................

 

Novi Sad Case: Almasˇki Neighbourhood

Neighbours stronger than planning officials

Faced with drastic development plans and the future construction of a boulevard, citizens from Novi Sad’s Almasˇki Neighbourhood in 2005 formed the Citizens’ Association Almasˇani. In 2006, in colla­boration with architect-volunteers, they drew up their own alternative proposal for the neigh­bour­hood that includes a traffic analysis and preserva­tion of the original street pattern. This is one of the few examples of self-organization of citizens that have been able to directly negotiate the future of their city – despite the many pressures from real-estate investors and the economic seductiveness of their offers (which would allow some of the home­owners to largely increase the amounts of their real estate). Finally, the city (partially) gave up cutting a boulevard, the drastic increase in number of floors and a built ratio of up to 90%. The drawing shows the final (adopted) plan that divides Almasˇki Neighbourhood on the “historical“ part – that Alma­sˇani managed to maintain – and an already “cut into“ part available for a much more aggressive redevelopment.