Aleksandar Staničić

Between the Hammer and the Anvil: Transition Architecture of Postwar Ex-Yugoslavia

Is war destruction the final act of “urbicide” – the killing of a city? If it is to be judged by the postwar reconstruction of Yugoslav cities, the only acceptable answer would be a resounding – no. Today the predominant sentiment among its citizens and scholars alike is that the violent conflict was just a trigger for the systematic devastation of socialist and modernist architectural heritage, the maltreatment of which continued as the default strategy for (re)creating national identities long after the war. Within the intense processes of post-conflict reconstruction, Yugoslav cities were drastically redefined and recalibrated to fit new political, social and economic realities.

Multilayered investigations into modalities in which architecture engaged with violence and ideology to produce a myriad of informal archetypes is possible through construction of a histoire croisée of the multiple architectural sources and histories. Set in the distinctive political and cultural context of a post-war and post-socialist Yugoslavia, this lecture will tackle the complex processes of urban renewal in a harshly polarized society struggling to overcome the challenges of economic, cultural and ideological transitions. Special emphasis will be given to the dual, yet diminishing, role of architects as both active voices in a public discourse, and translators of socio-political forces into architectural form.

Aleksandar Staničić

AKPIA@MIT Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Aleksandar Staničić is an architect and postdoctoral fellow at the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture in the MIT Department of Architecture. Previously, he was an associate research scholar at the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America at Columbia University. His research stems from two book projects, Transition urbicide: Post-war reconstruction in post-socialist Belgrade (author) and War Diaries: Responding to the Destruction of Art and Architecture (co-editor). The research project he is conducting at MIT seeks to systemize and criticize broader socio-political, cultural and ethical contexts in which ongoing academic discourse on reconstruction of cities in the Middle East occurs. He published book chapters in edited volumes War (Hi)stories: War and the Urban Context and Affective Architectures: More-than-representational Approaches to Heritage, and several articles and essays in Architecture and Culture: Spaces of ToleranceKamenzindLe caserme: Architettura, urbanità e riusoPolitics in the history of architecture as a cause and consequence. Dr. Staničić received his Ph.D. in Architectural Composition from the Polytechnic University of Milan in 2014, with a Doctor Europaeus Certification, and M.Arch. from the Faculty of Architecture, University in Belgrade.