Demolition Threat: complex of Military Headquarters (Generalstab)
by Nikola Dobrovic, Belgrade, Serbia, 1956-65
The Military Headquarters (Generalstab) designed by a world-known architect Nikola Dobrovic, and built in Belgrade from 1956-65 is at risk!
The complex was included into the preliminary list of National Register in 1996, and fully recognized as a national monument by Serbian Government in 2005. Serving as the seat of Yugoslav Peoples’ Army from its completion in 1965 until the NATO bombing in 1999, the monument was well-maintained. At the time of continuous use, the owner – namely the Yugoslav Army, was not ready to participate in the nomination procedure in order to keep access to the original technical documentation limited to public view.
After the NATO bombing until today, one segment of the complex which was not severely wounded has remained in use by the Army, while the rest of it has been abandoned. Being aware of the possibility of neglecting the original architectural and urbanistic importance, the owner finally decided to participate in creating the data-base for the Headquarters, incorporated into the National Register during the nomination procedure in 2005.
Already in 2008, some ministries of the national government questioned the status of Military Headquarters as a national monument, but the Republic Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, along with the Ministry of Culture was able to defend its values and save it from total destruction. Since the complex is located at the prime civic location, it has become attractive for various land speculations which could have pleased individual interests within some braches of the government.
A new campaign against the status of the complex as a national monument has started in January 2013, when a potential investor from the Arab Emirates expressed interest for buying the property. In spite of the strong voice of experts – both conservations involved in valorization and protection of modern architectural heritage, as well as, practicing architects and urban planners, who all argue for the protection of Nikola Dobrovic’s masterpiece - the official institutions for the protection of cultural heritage on the state and local levels have remained silent this time. The members of Docomomo Serbia are afraid that without the support of leadership from the Republic Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage and Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage of the City of Belgrade, the Military Headquarters by Nikola Dobrovic might be mistreated or even totally demolished.
[by Docomomo Serbia]