CONTINUITY OF THE MODERNITY/KONTINUITET MODERNOSTI

CONTINUITY OF THE MODERNITY – fragments of Croatian Architecture from Modernism to 2010

 

Continuity of the Modernity

Croatian architecture has drawn a certain amount of international attention during the last couple of years during which process recent individual realizations, ever more present in the architectural media, are most exposed. Despite this interest, modern Croatian architecture is not part of the dominant discourse of world architectural history; it is rather unknown, and its cultural status has just began to be outlined through new critical interpretations of a marginal, but pregnant and specific environment. Its position on the border between ‘the East’ and ‘the West’ has enabled a certain assimilation and exchange of knowledge and experience with international centres, but also led to significant, sometimes anxious efforts by the whole of Croatian culture to form its own authenticity. Therefore Croatian architecture of the 20th and 21st centuries is characterized by a motivating tension between reinterpretation of international models and endeavours to continue building a local, but open cultural identity. Here, Croatian architecture has made a significant modernization contribution to social reality and it deserves attention as a practice that has succeeded in synchronizing the conceptual integrity of the discipline with the given turbulent socio-political conditions and substantial oscillations of available economic and technical resources.

During the 20th century, Croatia was part of five states (the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Kingdom of Yugoslavia, the puppet Independent State of Croatia, Socialist Yugoslavia and the independent Republic of Croatia) and three economic-political systems (constitutional monarchy, socialist federation, parliamentary democracy) which influenced a permanent instability of social context and incompleteness of the modernization process. In this sense, the history of Croatia is a history of discontinuity and of efforts to overcome the traumas of that discontinuity. In spite of instability and radical social upheavals, it is important to establish the vitality and methodological adjustability of architectural discipline which has managed to overcome breaks and changes within dominant social paradigms. Certainly, Croatian building inherited a rich, especially Mediterranean, urban tradition which dates as far back as ancient times. Also, the influence of different cultural centres was favourable for the development of architectural thinking. However, equally important is the capability of local architectural practices to pragmatically absorb the workings of different ideologies and then to articulate these often contradictory demands into consistent building projects and results. For this reason, continuity of modernity and actualities of architectural research are readable, in which process the conditions under which this research developed influenced its scale, but did not capture its investigative ambition, from family houses to large urban interventions.

Precisely this finding of mutual language with different economic or political elites is an important constituent of maintaining continuity of Croatian architecture, but also of its ‘avant-garde’ which is not necessarily obvious in style or expression, but in an ability to practise architecture as an operative experiment of urban development. In this way, Croatian architecture was an active protagonist of crucial social events in both functional and symbolic senses. During the 1930s, with the strengthening of industrialization, architecture participated in forming a modern urban identity, but also in creating a spatial frame for a more and more powerful middle class. At the same time, it insisted on social involvement because the political position of most architects, mostly with experience of working with the world’s then leading masters – from Loos to Le Corbusier – was progressive and left-leaning. Through the process of urbanization and alliance of high modernism and socialist projects of the 50s and 60s, architecture came into prominence as one of the leading cultural and technical disciplines and an important symbolic representative of the building of a ‘new society’ with the ambition of reaching a utopian horizon. After independence in 1991, the progressive architectural scene succeeded in establishing a critical relation to transition and post-transition circumstances, finding new modus operandi in a deregulated environment and actualizing the experience of modernity in accordance with contemporary tendencies.

As a result of the described processes, there is a quite a high density of high-quality architectural realizations on the small territory of Croatia and their shared determinant is a modernization ambition which refers to very different sources: from representation of political power to improvements in social standards. This exhibition displays prominent individual constructions with the intention of presenting especially creative periods and concepts within a fertile architectural scene, with practices that were fulfilling and are still fulfilling the role of ‘avant-garde’ which is one step ahead of the realistic level of development and modernity of Croatian society. It is precisely in this specific optimism and persistence in emphasizing architectural discipline as an active cultural, but also political subject, that the relevance of the displayed projects should be sought.

 

Kontinuitet modernosti

Hrvatska arhitektura tijekom zadnjih godina izaziva određenu međunarodnu pozornost pri čemu su najviše eksponirane pojedine recentne realizacije sve prisutnije u stručnim medijima. Usprkos tom interesu, hrvatska moderna arhitektura nije upisana u dominantni diskurs povijesti svjetske arhitekture, razmjerno je nepoznata, a njen kulturni status se tek postepeno počinje ocrtavati kroz nove kritičke interpretacije jedne rubne, ali pregnantne i specifične sredine. Pozicija pograničja između „istoka“ i „zapada“ omogućila je određenu asimilaciju i razmjenu znanja i iskustava sa internacionalnim centrima, ali je uvjetovala i znatne, ponekad anksiozne napore cjelokupne hrvatske kulture da se oblikuje vlastita autentičnost. Tako hrvatsku arhitekturu 20. i 21. obilježava poticajna napetost između reinterpretacije internacionalnih modela i nastojanja da se nastavi sa izgradnjom lokalnog, ali otvorenog kulturnog identiteta. Pri tome, hrvatska arhitektura je ostvarila značajan modernizacijski doprinos društvenoj stvarnosti i zaslužuje pozornost kao praksa koja uspijevala uskladiti konceptualni integritet discipline sa turbulentnim socio-političkim datostima i znatnim oscilacijama raspoloživih ekonomsko-tehničkih resursa.

Hrvatska je tijekom 20. stoljeća prošla kroz 4 države (Austro-Ugarska monarhija; Kraljevina Jugoslavija, marionetska Nezavisna država Hrvatska, Socijalistička Jugoslavija te samostalna Republika Hrvatska) i 3 ekonomsko-politička sustava  (ustavna monarhija, socijalistička federacija, parlamentarna demokracija) što je utjecalo na na trajnu nestabilnost društvenog konteksta i nedovršenost modernizacijskih procesa. U tom smislu, povijest Hrvatske je povijest diskontinuiteta i napora da se traume tih diskontinuiteta prevladaju. Unatoč nestabilnosti i radikalnim društvenim prevratima, važno je ustanoviti vitalnost i metodološku prilagodljivost arhitektonske discipline koja je uspjela premostiti lomove i promjene u dominantnim društvenim paradigmama. Svakako, hrvatsko graditeljstvo baštini bogatu, naročito mediteransku urbanu tradiciju još od antičkih vremena, kao što je i utjecaj različitih kulturnih centara bio pogodan za razvoj arhitektonske misli. No, jednako je važna sposobnost lokalnih arhitektonskih praksi da pragmatično apsorbiraju djelovanje različitih ideologija i da zatim te često kontradiktorne zahtjeve artikuliraju u konzistentne graditeljske projekte i rezultate. Iz tog razloga, čitljiv je kontinuitet modernosti i aktualnosti arhitektonskih istraživanja pri čemu su uvjeti u kojima su se ta istraživanja razvijala utjecala na njihovo mjerilo ali ne i na istraživačku ambiciju, od obiteljskih kuća do velikih urbanističkih zahvata.

Upravo je pronalaženje zajedničkog jezika sa različitim ekonomskim ili političkim elitama važna sastavnica održavanja kontinuiteta hrvatske arhitekture, ali i njene „avangardnosti“ koja se ne očituje nužno u stilu ili izrazu, nego u sposobnosti da se arhitektura prakticira kao operativni eksperiment urbanog razvoja. Tako je hrvatska arhitektura bila aktivni protagnost ključnih društvenih zbivanja i u funkcionanom i u siboličkom smislu. Arhitektura je tijekom 30-ih godina dvadesetog stoljeća sa jačanjem industrijalizacije sudjelovala u formiranju modernog urbanog identiteta ali i stvaranju prostornog okvira za sve snažniju građansku klasu. U isto vrijeme je inzistirala na socijalnom angažmanu jer je politička pozicija većine arhitekata, uglavnom sa iskustvom rada kod tada vodećih svjetskih majstora – od Loosa do LeCorbusiera, bila progresivno i lijevo orijentirana. Kroz proces urbanizacije i savezništvo visokog modernizma i socijalističkog projekta 50-ih i 60-ih arhitektura se istaknula kao jedna od vodećih kulturno-tehničkih disciplina i važan simbolički reprezent izgradnje „novog društva“ s ambicijom dosezanja utopijskog horizonta. Nakon osamostaljivanja 1991. napredna arhitektonska scena uspijeva uspostaviti kritički odnos prema tranzicijskim i post- tranzicijskim okolnostima, pronaći nove metode djelovanja u dereguliranom okolišu, te aktualizirati iskustvo modernosti sukladno suvremenim tendencijama.

Kao rezultat opisanih procesa, na malom teritoriju Hrvatske nalazi se razmjerno velika gustoća kvalitetnih arhitektonskih realizacija čija je zajednička odrednica modernizacijska ambicija koja je vezana za vrlo različite izvore: od reprezentacije političke moći do podizanja socijalnog standarda. Izložba prikazuje pojedinačne istaknute gradnje s namjerom da se predstave posebno kreativni periodi i koncepti unutar jedne plodne arhitektonske scene čije su prakse ispunjavale i još uvijek ispunjavaju ulogu „avangarde“ koja je korak ispred realne razine razvijenosti i modernosti hrvatskog društva. Upravo u tom specifičnom optimizmu i upornosti da se arhitektonska disciplina apostrofira kao aktivni kulturni ali i politički subjekt treba tražiti relevantnost prikazanih projekata.