photographer roberto conte documents the modernist majesty of belgrade

photographer roberto conte documents the modernist majesty of belgrade


in 2015, italian photographer roberto conte travelled among the many modernist and brutalist buildings of the serbian capital of belgrade, documenting the architectural developments that took place there over the 60s and 70s. the series, called ‘modernist majesty in belgrade’, captures some of the city’s most iconic buildings and structures through a raw and uncomplicated lens. focusing on the buildings as the appear in real life, from the eyes of a passerby, conte presents the stark, unblemished dominance of belgrades many towering architectures.

(above) genex tower, western gate of belgrade (zapadna kapija beograda), by mihajlo mitrović (1980)
(main) the bežanijski blokovi, new belgrade, by darko marušić, milenija marušić and milan miodragović (1973)



‘wandering around belgrade, the capital city of the republic of serbia and of the former yugoslavia, can be an overwhelming an almost surreal experience for people interested in brutalism and modernism in general’, says roberto conte of his experience of making the series. ‘after the end of the second world war, and in particular between the 60s and the 70s (…) plenty of massive and impressive structures grew up all over this city (…), even outside its original boundaries if we consider the gigantic urban development of the planned municipality of new belgrade.’

rudo buildings, eastern gate of belgrade (istočne kapije beograda), by vera cirković and milutin jerotijević (1976)



the series documents such buildings as the genex tower, also called ‘the western gate’, a 140m high structure composed of two towers connected by a corridor, with a restaurant on the top level. on the other side of the city lies the rudo residential complex, or ‘the eastern gate’: three step-like 100m high structures, arranged in a circle at 120 degrees and resembling the overall shape of an enormous mechanical mandrel. the same disposition of elements can be recognized on the three inclined pillars of another gigantic avala tower, located in the southern outskirts of the city. a 204.5m high TV tower, the avala still manages to appear futuristic despite its age (the original was destroyed by the NATO bombings in 1999).

the avala tower, by uglješa bogdanović, slobodan janjić and milan krstić (built 1965, destroyed 1999, reopened in 2010)



if we fly over belgrade we will see several architectural elements spatially emerging from the urban horizon’, continues conte, ‘most of them used for residential purposes and planned in a city with an increasing population, in a state that was trying to find an independent road to socialism. it’s about structures with a raw and straight design, without any kind of decoration and aimed to maximize the space efficiency, that became the house of several people in different parts of belgrade, like the residential complexes in banjica and voždovac.’

residential tower in karaburma, nicknamed ‘the toblerone building’, by rista sekerinski (1963)

voždovac residential tower, by stana aleksić and branko aleksić (1969-1973)

urban planning institute, by branislav jovin (1967-1970)

25th may sport centre, by ivan antic (1973)

(left) banjica residential complex, by branislav karadžić, slobodan drinjaković and aleksandar stjepanović (1976)

residential complex, new belgrade, by božidar janković, branislav karačić and aleksandar stjepanović (1974)

military medical academy, by josip osojnik and slobodan nikolić (1973-1981)

electrical power substation, by aleksandar đokić (1979)



designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: peter corboy | designboom


  • the avala tower, by uglješa BOGUNOVIĆ, slobodan janjić and milan krstić (built 1965, destroyed 1999 IN NATO BOMBING, reopened in 2010)

    Djordje Alfirevic says:

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