School of Architecture, Planning & Landscape

Tijana Stevanovic

Incorporating Self-management: Architectural Production in New Belgrade

Tijana Stevanović

Main supervisor: Professor Katie Lloyd Thomas

Second supervisor: Professor Mark Dorrian (The University of Edinburgh)


Rapid post-war industrialisation of the building process brought profound change to the built environment and transformed how architects dealt with technical developments. Focusing on the development of New Belgrade in conjunction with the expansion of flexible structural systems and the reform of architectural education, the thesis posits socialist Yugoslavia’s self-management principle (1949-1989) as a potent cultural paradigm that conditioned relations between architects and the building industry. Despite its influence being frequently dismissed by Yugoslav architects, the thesis argues that the ceaselessly debated purview of self-management (through the three federal constitutions of 1953, 1963 and 1974) strongly influenced the organisation of architectural techniques. It does so by interpreting a range of sources – technical and legal documents, educational literature, oral history etc. – that elucidate the transformation of the everyday realm of the work of architects and common processes rather than the products of (individual) design emphasised by other recent studies of Yugoslav architecture. 

By articulating three critical mediations used to reflect on the conjunction of self-management and architectural production: i) social property; ii) individual vs. collective; and iii) the notion of architect as worker, the study tracks how they shaped the broader field of architectural culture. It explores how the foundations of the practice of self-management were laid by the voluntary youth labour that prepared the New Belgrade construction site. Further, it demonstrates how emergent notions deemed merely technical—such as ‘open prefabrication’ or ‘expanded communication—reinforced architects’ detachment from the material building process. Lastly, it argues that the criticism of modernist oversights was ineffective for its blindness to social relations and regulations underlying architectural production in self-management. The study contributes to research into the socio-political dimension of building technology in architecture, but also problemarises how reducing self-management’s collective capacity to individual self-discipline intensifies the atomisation of responsibilities in architecture.

Tijana Stevanovic

Tijana Stevanovic 2