Eccentric benches in London FoA + Why recent craze for Yugoslavia’s architecture?

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Eccentric benches sit pretty during London Festival of Architecture

EXCERPT: . . . Partnering up with the London Festival of Architecture, the City of London Corporation and Cheapside Business Alliance commissioned five new benches for the Cheapside area – choosing the winning designs through a competition open to young architects and designers. The challenge was to design an ‘imaginative place for people to rest amidst the bustle of their city surroundings.’

[...] ‘Together, the benches demonstrate not only the brilliance of London’s emerging architects, designers and artists, but also how small interventions can make such a difference to how people can experience and enjoy London’s streets and spaces,’ says Tamsie Thomson, Director of the London Festival of Architecture. These benches are simple, creative, democratic urban tools that add to city life in so many ways. Instead of packing people into a lift to ship them up into a bulbous bar above the city, they are open to all to enjoy the city daily – designed by young Londoners with bright ideas, they are pops of colour and humour to uplift the urban fabric, and add to the social layers of life at street level. (MORE - images)

[Image: benchtime_02_c_agnese_sanvito.jpg?itok=FnSFJQ-W]

[Image: benchtime_02_c_agnese_sanvito.jpg?itok=FnSFJQ-W]

What’s behind the recent craze for Yugoslavia’s modern architecture?

EXCERPT: A landmark exhibition at MoMA, new books and documentaries: it seems people can’t get enough of the architectural and monumental marvels of the former Yugoslavia. [...] The socialist federation may have disintegrated a quarter of a century ago, but the modernist gems built during its heyday have been experiencing something of a resurgence [...] It seems odd that, some four decades since Yugoslavia’s postwar construction boom came to an end, the country’s unique take on the modernist style has suddenly captured the imagination of the world. As a native of New Belgrade who has always felt a profound affection for this sort of architecture, this global recognition feels both long overdue and slightly confusing. Why Yugoslavia, of all places, and why now? And does the renewed international interest chime with feeling within former Yugoslav nations?

Vladimir Kulić, an architectural historian, university lecturer, and one of the curators of the MoMA exhibition, tells me that this recent interest is a byproduct of numerous factors: the faddishness of the spomeniks, for one, as well as a social media-driven Brutalist revival that has afforded modernist buildings mislabeled as belonging to that school a new lease of life. [...] “Yugoslavia is very interesting as a small geographical and cultural space that managed to produce a really great variety of architectural experiments that were actually implemented on the ground,” says Kulić when I ask him about the appeal of Yugoslav architecture abroad. “The intensity of these various experiments and the entire architectural cultures that developed in Yugoslavia are perhaps the most interesting thing about it.”

The architecture of Yugoslavia truly was distinct. Unlike the mass-produced, identikit housing blocks of Soviet Russia, Yugoslav architecture was so eclectic that grouping it together under a single, catch-all label tends to irk academics who specialise in the subject. [...] This architecture might be seen as a physical expression of the nation’s ideology. Liberated from both the strictures of central planning as well as the constraints of the market, Yugoslav architects were supported by the full force of the state while still being free to experiment. (MORE - details, images)

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