The Yugoslavian milestone | Silvia Blanco Agüeira

Vjenceslav Richter y Emil Weber. Lateral del pabellón yugoslavo en la Expo58
Vjenceslav Richter and Emil Weber. Wings of the Yugoslavian pavilion in the Expo58, with ultramodern plastic accomplishments on his paraments. To the bottom, it is possible to estimate the structure that was using as visual claim, a milestone shaped by six metallic arches, one by every republic: Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro.

The Yugoslavian pavilion of the Universal Exhibition of Brussels of 1958 is one of these works in which the arrow wound turns out to be instantaneous. His elegant design and his elegant interior scenery had as undisguised aim amaze, subdue the spectator. Only this way the rocambolesco understands development of the offer from his origins up to his final concretion. Only this way there is understood that there were necessary the summons of two contests of ideas to choose the definitive design.

Maqueta de Diksi 2, la propuesta ganadora en la segunda convocatoria del concurso. Fuente: Galjer, Jasna. Expo 58 and the Yugoslav pavilion by Vjenceslav Richter. Croatia: Horetzky, 2009.
Diksi‘s model 2, the winning offer in the second summons of the contest. Expo 58 and the Yugoslav pavilion by Vjenceslav Richter. Croatia: Horetzky, 2009.

A preparatory committee announced in May, 1956 an opened and anonymous contest in the Federative Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia for the draft of the building that was going to get up in the Belgian capital two years later. Though three projects were rewarded, none of them convinced really the juror, good because they were not assembling sufficient quality to represent to the country, good because his authors were not possessing a path emphasized in the configuration of explanatory spaces1. There was an exception to the latter aspect, the architect after the offer named Diksi, winner of one of the second two granted prizes: Vjenceslav Richter2, a Croatian designer known by his work in the area of the painting and the graphical arts that one had presented to the contest in collaboration with Emil Weber, a designer of interiors.

Provided that no project turned out to be selected to be executed, the preparatory committee resolved to invite to four recognized studies of the socialist condition to take part in the second round of the contest, summoned only three months later, and in the one that also was included to the three rewarded in the first summons. In this occasion, the select offer was the showy Diksi 2, one variation of the originally presented one for the mentioned Richter and Weber. Such age the degree of complexity of the design, which was necessary an additional evaluation to determine his feasibility, something questioned by the members of the juror.

The project, dared, almost Martian, with four cables that were supporting a cubicle of approximately forty meters of side, caused serious headaches to the commission. And though one consulted experts, it thought that the wind might turn into a real disadvantage, since it would make turn the pavilion on the central mast of seventy meters of height, so that the structure was becoming uncontrollable.

After numerous debates and consultations, in that even out-standing politicians intervened, it was decided finally to place the building on props of steel, adopting a more conventional system of supports. The innovation and the audacity initials were left so, though there were kept the aesthetics of the lucernarios, the opened ground floor and the present sheets of water in the same one.

Espacio expositivo interior, con los lucernarios de la cubierta, presentes en casi todas las versiones del proyecto
Explanatory interior space, with the lucernarios of the cover, present in almost all the versions of the project.

The Yugoslavian accomplishment remained placed between the pavilions of Switzerland and Portugal, it conceals something after them, in a wooded zone and with hanging fort in his environment. Of there that the Balkan ones were trying to settle this disadvantage, so much from the beginning itself of the design as later, with the incorporation of a fascinating structure of 45 meters and a half of height that was acting as claim of his offer3.

With everything, the reaction of the public was not the wished one, and a folclórica had to celebrate little before his closing exhibition of wrists dressed in traditional suits, in a last attempt to driven to despair for the numbers of visitors improved4. A claim that was entering apparent contradiction with the essence of the designed: a country completely orientated towards the modern thing, even in his architecture. In fact, the functionality of the presented spaces turned into a very useful aspect on having finished the event.

Once finished the Expo58, the pavilion was dismantled, moved and installed again in Wevelgem’s Belgian city to be used as catholic school, the Sint-Pauluscollege. In this locality it is possible to visit nowadays the former building, sheltering a program for whom was not originally designed: the teacher.

The modern architecture, with his aseptic tracings and absence of national modals, adapted perfectly to the above mentioned aim.

Sint-Pauluscollege, Wevelgem (Bélgica). Segunda vida para el pabellón yugoslavo como equipamiento docente.
Sint-Pauluscollege, Wevelgem (Belgium). The second life for the Yugoslavian pavilion like educational equipment.

Silvia Blanco Agüeira, PhD architect
Viveiro, december 2015

1 The juror composed by Branislav Kojić, Drago Ibler, Oto Bihalji-Merin and Milorad Pantović, he concluded that the contest had not offered satisfactory results. And it in spite of the fact that the first prize was granted to the offer 30556 of that were authors Vladimir Bjelikov, Branislav Simonović and Smilja Kanački. And instead of the second and third prize, there were granted two prizes shared to the offer with the motto Kubus, of Milan Pališaški, Slobodan Janjić, Zoran Petrović and Oskar Hrabovski, and to the design Diksi, of Vjenceslav Richter and Emil Weber. Galjer, Jasna, Expo 58 and the Yugoslav pavilion by Vjenceslav Richter (Croatia: Horetzky, 2009), 288.

Vjenceslav Richter (1917/2002) he was one of the founders of the group of abstract art EXAT 51, shaped by architects and painters who were pleading for the creative synthesis. With a solid political reputation, due to his entail with the partisans of Yugoslavia, it had organized diverse exhibitions so much inside like out of the country from 1947, between them, first Triennial of Zagreb, in 1955. Zimmermann, Tanja, Balkan Memories: Media Constructions of National and Transnational History (Bielefeld: transcript Verlag, 2014), 131-133.

3 Zvonko Springer, calculista of the structure of the pavilion and of the milestone placed in front of the same one, narrated this experience in ” World Exposition in Brussels 1958. The Yugoslav Pavilion “, available in the following link.

4 Kulić, Vladimir, “An Avant-Garde Architecture for an Avant-Garde Socialism: Yugoslavia at EXPO’58“, Journal of Contemporary History 47 (2012): 161–184.

Silvia Blanco Agüeira

Silvia Blanco es una arquitecta gallega que se dedica a la teoría de la arquitectura. Cuenta con un gran número de publicaciones, ponencias, artículos científicos y comunicaciones que giran alrededor de tres ejes temáticos: el estudio de olvidados y notables ejemplos de la historia de la arquitectura; la puesta en valor del patrimonio arquitectónico del noroeste peninsular, en especial, el construido en la segunda mitad del siglo XX; y por último, la implementación de métodos de aprendizaje que fomenten el sentido crítico y la capacidad analítica del alumno.

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