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A model for Savamala

In its basic architectural form, the model reflects the history and current state of affairs in the area as well as its potential upcoming developments. It represents the existing urban morphology and typology. It explains the property structure and indicates the intensity of commercial activities. Most of this data is already available but it has never been visualised and put in relation to each other.


Maja Popović, Boba Stanić


Ljubo Georgiev, Daša Spasojević, Predrag Milić, Ana Ugrinić, Miloš Kasul Nikolić


Model Art, Kaita Shinagawa, Zvučna Mapa Beograda

Savamala is a no-man´s land. Most of the knowledge about the area cannot be found in books or archives, but in the memories of Savamala residents. “A Model for Savamala” collected this local knowledge and presented it publicly. Individual recollections and collective memory are treasures that will create a new awareness for Savamala and a new basis for future visions and plans for the quarter.

There is no unified description of Savamala. This is not only due to Savamala´s long and varied history or the complicated situation of the present. It is also due to the fact that both professionals and the public have, for a long time, ignored this city quarter by the River Sava. Savamala – it is a locally well-known no-man´s land.

At the center of our activities was the creation of a 1:2000 model of the quarter, which has developed over several months with the support of international experts. This model does not only represent a specific form of Savamala as a cityscape of buildings and houses, but also a physical form of collecting, exhibiting, and publicly exposing local knowledge.

As “A Model for Savamala” simultaneously collects and stores local knowledge about the quarter, it contributes to future visions of Savamala in two ways: Firstly, this local knowledge is the necessary basis for planning the future of the quarter adequately. Secondly, this knowledge will constitute a new appreciation of and create a new awareness for Savamala.

Camenzind interviews Maja Popović and Boba Stanić of the Urban Incubator’s A Model for Savamala.

A model for Savamala

A “Model for Savamala” workshop during MIKSER-festival (28.05 – 02.06.2013)


In the limelight

16.11.2013 (- 22.12.2013)

Japanese technology, architectural and model building expertise from Amsterdam, Novi Sad, and Belgrade – on Saturday afternoon “A Model  for Savamala” was presented for the first time.

A huge storage of people´s knowledge and archive data, the model allows – through a translucent layer – a new perspective and insight into Savamala. The geography, history, and architecture on top, more information for example on the day-and-night use, and stories from the sound archive “Sound Map Savamala” pay tribute to the cultural memory of the city quarter. For citizens big and small, for planners, investors, or politicians the Model for Savamala might serve as the basis for future investment and improvement.

From the gallery under Brankov Bridge where the Model saw it debut, in full limelight of the public and the media, the model has now taken up its future “nomad life”: it will be exhibited in the shop window gallery of Goethe-Institut Belgrad in Belgrad High Street Knez Mihailova. Next year, next station: the Faculty of Architecture . . .

In the course of the year 2012 A Model for Savamala team had a chance to work twice on the neighborhood of Savamala, Belgrade. Once by organizing a workshop, which inquired into the history of the area, and second time by organizing workshop, concerned with the courtyards in Savamala. Both times we were confronted with the complexity of the neighbourhood. It seemed to us as if Savamala was difficult to understand, to describe. Soon we discovered that this was an impression shared also by the inhabitants, local and national institutions, the merchants in the area and even the activists involved in reviving Savamala. We came across issues such as unclear urban structure, uncoordinated databases, and diverse ambitions to change again property structure of the whole area. Everyone knew bits and pieces of this puzzle, but it was difficult to describe, and especially to visualize, any specific spot in Savamala in all its complexity. Savamala seemed to us a place loaded with information, but also a place where very few people, if any, were aware of the complete picture. Savamala seemed not graspable. In a context of an approaching substantial transformation of Savamala we thought it is crucial to make the area understandable. We believed it will be of a great advantage for the area’s development if we have an as clear as possible idea on what Savamala is made of, its activities, what are the interests involved and what ambitions do the different stakeholders in the area aspire to.

For this reason we decided to make the area of Savamala transparent through the means of architectural representation, a 3D physical model of Savamala, relating to the sociological, economic and political facts. In its basic architectural form, the model is reflecting the history and current state of affairs in the area as well as its potential upcoming developments. It represents the exiting urban morphology and typology, it goes into issues of the property structure, and it indicates the intensity of commercial activities and shows where the inhabitants of Savamala live. These data, mostly available, have never been visualized and put in relation to each other. In this sense projects ambition was to make a model that represents the current condition of Savamala: to visualize and make comprehensible what we are dealing with when talking about this area. To target the public awareness of it and (together with citizens, visitors, developers, politicians and investors) illustrate and indicate the potentials of the area.

The project start off was in March 2013 and it was divided into phases. Phase 1 was based on the research, which consisted of accumulating all relevant information on the area and storing it in our database. We collected these information by doing fieldwork and desk research, gathering them both on the location and in collaboration with different higher educational institutions. We formed a steady team by involving around 20 participants, students and young professionals in both the collection of the data, as well as in the testing of the model. Research also included the local community, their opinions, stories and reflections. During the process, collected data were directly tested through the range of trial models, which prepared an excellent base for the final Model for Savamala. The goal of the phase 1 was on finding a way to translate and communicate collected information through the means of architectural modelling. We worked closely with different institutions in Belgrade including Municipality of Savski venac, The Cadastre Serbia, The City Archive, Belgrade Urban planning office, Architecture University in Belgrade. After finalizing extensive research, and building range of experimental models, we conducted a model making master-class at our workplace. For that purpose we have set up a visit of internationally renowned model-making studio from Amsterdam, Studio KU+. Head of this office, Kaita Shinagawa (Japan), came to Belgrade and gave us a series of short lectures on model making, followed by practical work and engagement in our Savamala context. This event was open for the public and was finalized by a public lecture. During the Master Class we created The Formula and on its basis we conceptualized the Model.

The ambition is to make a model that represents the current condition of Savamala: to visualize and make comprehensible what we are dealing with when talking about this area. To target the public awareness of it and (together with citizens, visitors, developers, politicians and investors) try to illustrate the potential this area has.

In July 2013 the project started with the phase 2 and moved into the Spanish House pavilion. At this stage, our team got reinforcement of four assistants: Ana Ugrinić, Dasha Spasojević, Predrag Milić and Miloš Kašul Nikolić. The focus was on the finalizing the research (resulting in the definitive shaping of the model) and start off with the model production. We were measuring facades openings and logging of the heights, sidewalks width, we were drawing internal courtyards, mapping the entrances, stairways, public spaces, functions and programs. We were collecting stories and interviews with people who live and work in Savamala. We have counted trucks, cyclists, cars and other forms of transportation…

During this period we have joined forces with several partners: ModelArt Arhitekti (http://www.modelart.rs/) Due to the great amount of information and highly complex area we invited model-making specialists ModelArt Arhitekti from Novi Sad to be our production partner. Studio KU+ (http://www.studiokuplus.com/).Kaita Shinagawa from Studio KU+ is producing parts and special buildings for the model. Netherlands Embassy in Belgrade (http://serbia. nlembassy.org/) In August 2013 our project got financial support from the Dutch Embassy in Belgrade. Belgrade/Savamala Sound Map (http://www. zvucnamapabeograda.rs/). The work of Sound map is based on collecting different local narratives by using exclusively audio technique and locating them on the 2D online map of the area. As we planned to integrate interviews and sound into the model, the cooperation came naturally. The “Savamala sound map” is using our model as a 3D platform where they will integrate local stories. Belgrade University, Faculty of Architecture (http://www. arh.bg.ac.rs/) In September 2013 our project got financial support from the Faculty of Architecture in Belgrade. Based on our previous experience in Savamala we believe that our proposal is important for the successful transformation of the area. Mainly because it is a proposal of a manageable scale and a clear form; we think that a model for Savamala provides a very good basis and appropriate means for the debate and the conception of the complex reality of Savamala. Additional is the fact that such an action is in its nature open to further exploration and suitable for adding an increasing number of layers of information to it. A model for Savamala offers the beginning of a new management model for the realization of urban transformations in complex urban situations, such as Savamala.