Serbian house

Home with a soul
“The man builds a house once and then the house builds him forever. Manners and forms of building in one nation and in one culture are not created by chance but they are results of crystallizations which lasted for several millenniums. If we compare houses of different regions we can see that people’s characters and souls of these homes are identifying. So, Spengler was right: ’If one house type disappears, the race which created it will disappear as well.’ The value of a traditional Serbian house is that it was created out of need; it is simple, comfortable and beautiful. It is in harmony with the nature and with the milieu, it is not made for advertising, for prestige or out of spite. It is created out of life and dedicated to life”

prof. Bozidar PetrovicBy: Uroš Anđelić


His first project was a covered stadium. It was 1952 and it seemed as science fiction to everyone. Some time later, during a long and fruitful career, he made more than 200 projects (most of them were realized). The steam power plant “Kolubara”, tire plant “Tigar” in Pirot (1958-59), National University and Children’s Health Center in Mladenovac, a settlement in Boka Kotorska, many ethno-houses in Kopaonik, schools in Veliki Crljeni, Vreoci, Poljanice, Paležnica, Latković (1956-57), many houses and business buildings in Serbia. He taught Mechanics and strength of material on the Faculty of Architecture in Belgrade and later he taught Systems theory. He is a (co-)author of university textbooks Statistics, Systems Theory and of Information and Elements of General Systems Theory. He also worked as a Manager in the Institute for architecture and urbanism.
However, Professor Božidar Petrović is a synonym for great creative and skilled effort to transpose traditional Serbian and Balkan architecture into the modern epoch, into the life of modern man and modern generation.
“I started planning the first houses which represent the reminiscence of heritage around 1970”, says professor Petrović. “Back then, it was obvious that the situation is not good, that we are losing our way and our ideas and that we are wandering. The house is the mirror of the people who live in it ― a psychological, social, material, spiritual mirror. It is also true that the man usually builds his house once and then the house builds the man forever. The influence of architecture on people is huge and far-reaching. At the end of the 60’s and the beginning of the 70’s of the 20th century many scarecrow houses were built all over Serbia. Our charming settlement, built according to needs of people and the community, in harmony with nature and the milieu, has become a frightening dump of houses. The area of Serbia was left to a mediocre provincial atmosphere, a chaotic system of values and so much trash in art which gushed all around. That kind of mediocre spirit — people from the countryside were violently pushed to live to the city, guest workers who have massively went to West Europe — opened the space for many “wrong connections” and wrong identifications, imitation without understanding. If we add a total national absence, whose representatives only deal with the problem that someone does not work against the government, then it is completely clear why we have “Alps styled” houses in Šumadija, “border guard” houses in Voivodina, narrow streets on Ibarska highway, the settlement of Kaluđerica, that monstruous pile of houses about several kilometers away from the center of Belgrade. Or, who built a bloomery, who built so many buildings in the area of Grocka and Smederevo, the best fruit growing area in Europe and the area of exquisite vineyards. Everyone, including the Academy, the state, the government, professional associations, even my faculty, only watched what happened with no interest. We succumbed madness, alienation and indifference, which has destroyed our identity and befogged our originality. The only way was to drive a
way the fog which has covered common sense and the very precious treasury of our heritage. I realized that there is nothing to wait for and I found my way.”


Manners and forms of building in one nation and in one culture are not created by chance but they are results of crystallizations which lasted for several millenniums. If we compare houses of different regions we can see that people’s characters and souls of these homes are identifying. So, Spengler was right: “If one house type disappears, the race which created it will disappear as well.” If one nation starts building in spite of true and tough values of its own heritage, if trash and vanity take over, if connection between architecture and area originality are broken, then it is a secure sign that big breakdowns already happened in man’s mind and in society and that we only see the consequences in architecture.  “The biggest values of an old Serbian house are that it was made out of need, and it is simple, suitable and human. It was made out of life and it was dedicated to it. It does not serve for advertising, for prestige or spite. All of our great people, the ones who have marked history and culture of the new renovated Serbia, were born in such houses. There was no absurd luxury, no pretentiousness, but harmony, taste and measure which were creatively produced even in great poverty. An old Serbian house is exquisitely proportional. Its geometrical values are stunning. They understand a codex, standardization which was adjusted and fixed up for centuries. It was not called under that name but it was more than present. That is the spirit which I am trying to catch and transpose it in a modern Serbian house.”
There should be no confusion. The style and the rhythm of a modern man’s life, his needs and the culture of means in disposal, social and personal connections, ways of earning money, size and functioning of a modern family — these are all much different than they were in earlier times. The idea is not that the modern man should live in a 19th century house, with a fire place, in a way that would be inappropriate for his needs. Professor Petrović’s houses are all arranged in a most modern manner, built out of best materials. The spirit of heritage is expressed in them in other ways.
“It is not a question of manners or flirting with tradition. I do not get back to heritage and tradition but I start with them. If heritage is the tested experience of previous generations then why should I ignore it? I realized that creating in heritage is a natural behavior. I think that it is our duty to transpose the inherited and to develop it to modern needs, to the modern itself, which must not be an empty shell, and especially not formal and lifeless architecture. Really, only with connecting the inherited and the modern we got to our own originality. For us, being a small nation, in these conditions of globalization, accepting heritage is a question of survival. We shall confirm our existence, our originality and our survival. I do not know how you fell but I fell much endangered. And I want to survive!”


Velisevci near LjigProfessor Petrović is convinced that modern architectural performing is not professional or cultural exhibitionism but a responsible social and cultural job. It must last and should be “prolonged in spirit”. On the other hand, a long-lasting standard building, making universal solutions for all situations, fabricating objects caused a lot of damage.
“Every object has its locality, its unique place on planet earth and that is why it is so compulsory unique. Serbia is so unfortunately built because people fabricated projects as if all locations and all conditions are the same. On this planet, Belgrade has coordinates which only Belgrade can have. There cannot be another Belgrade, it cannot be repeated. That is just the thing with architecture. It cannot be merchandise.”
One of the important postulates of professor Petrović’s work is a so-called climate house. A house cannot be the same in polar and hot weather climates. In Serbia, a house in Voivodina and a house at the seaside are completely different.
“A typical Šumadija house is my inspiration, of course with all unavoidable supplements and changes which the time brings. Unfortunately, no one really seriously studied houses in Serbia, except Cvijić. If we compare houses of different climates in detail, we can see that characters of people and spirits of houses are identifying. The house is created as a deep expression of man’s inner being. With its shape, room arrangement and appearance it speaks clearly about the people who live in it. The house’s usefulness and functionality should not be only understood as a rational act. It should also include all these psychical functions which are hard to explain. Therefore, people who think that a house is ’the purest racial expression in the world” are right’.”
Building material is also an important element.
“The Serbian house is generally built out of material that could be found in the nearby milieu. Reasons are not only pragmatic and the Serbian man was right. He recognized important truths about man, his home and his natural milieu, at least on the plan of intuition. For example, one cannot build a house out of unbaked brick in rocky Montenegro. It is also not natural to build houses out of stone in Voivodina. In Pazova, I saw new several–story houses built in stone. They seem so ugly sticking out that plain that I am very much afraid for the mental health of people who live there and pass through their shadows every day. Why are there log cabins in Zlatibor? The best woods are all around. I think that a Zlatibor log cabin is one of the most beautiful houses in the world. Skillfully used material from natural milieu and respecting the characteristics of the climate, exquisite architectural results were achieved. A modern builder must not copy the work of our ancestors but he must transpose and creatively adjust the old Serbian building, to include the present style and to make a connection between the old and the new.”


At the beginning of the 70’s, professor Petrović was really lonely with his ideas. Today, a neo-traditional movement was built on those ideas of his and (even more) on his work, a movement which overcomes architecture and clearly has wider cultural dimensions. Four different editions of his famous book Old Serbian Houses As a Building Stimulus witness it, as well as the monograph Božidar Petrović — A House As a Mark of Time by Snežana Toševa and the book Buidling of Božidar Petrović by Miloš Jevtić. One can also visit the web site www.srpskekuce.com. These were our sources and they are beginning information for all those who wish to study this idea in detail.
What about public experts? In the beginning, a long time ago, there were things kept in secret, many extreme attempts and disqualifications. Professor Petrović did not bother, full of calm cheerfulness and creative energy. Recognitions came some time later, including Vuk’s Art Award for 2002. The most satisfied are those who live in the houses made after the projects of professor Petrović. On the place where only one house of the kind was built, there were shortly many of them. Somewhere, it became a dominant building model, which emphasizes the strength of positive examples.
When they asked professor Petrović how it feels, after all those years, to stand in front of one of his houses, he says:
“I think it was in 1941 when I saw the famous movie Rembrandt. In the last scene, Rembrandt found his painting in the dust on the Town Hall’s attic, with the help of a bribed guard. Taking off the dust and revealing one character after the other he is turning to the guard and says: ’Now I know something!’ The guard said, not knowing who was he talking to: ’What do you know, you old fool!?’ ’ I know that I did not live in vain’, said Rembrandt and blowing out the candle which enlightened the attic. That scene influenced on me very much and I still remember it, after 60 years. Everyone of us should have the reason to realize the same thing, in the end!”



From now on you
can buy National Review at Trafika sales outlets

Србија - национална ревија - број 82 - руски

Србија - национална ревија - број 82 - руски

Србија - национална ревија - број 81 - руски

Србија - национална ревија - број 80 - руски

Србија - национална ревија - број 79 - руски

Србија - национална ревија - број 78 - руски

Serbia - National Review - Tourism 2020

Србија - национална ревија - Број 77

Србија - национална ревија - Број 76

Србија - национална ревија - Број 75
Србија - национална ревија - ФранкфуртСрбија - национална ревија - МоскваСрбија - национална ревија - Москва
Србија - национална ревија - ПекингСрбија - национална ревија - број 74
Србија - национална ревија - број 73

Србија - национална ревија - број 72Туризам 2019.
Србија - национална ревија - број 71
Србија - национална ревија - број 70Србија - национална ревија - број 69Србија - национална ревија - број 68Србија - национална ревија - број 67Tourism 2018
Србија - национална ревија - број 66
Serbia - National Review - No 65
Serbia - National Review - No 64Србија - национална ревија - број 63
Србија - национална ревија - број 62
Србија - национална ревија - број 61

Србија - национална ревија - број 60
Србија - национална ревија - број 59
Serbia - National Review - No 59
Serbia - National Review - No 58

Serbia - National Review - No 56
Serbia - National Review - No 55
Serbia - National Review - No 54
Tourism 2016
Српска - национална ревија - број 53
Српска - национална ревија - број 12-13
Srpska - National Review - No 12-13
Serbia - National Review - No 51

Serbia - National Review - No 49
Serbia - National Review - No 49
Serbia - National Review - No 48
Serbia - National Review - No 46
Serbia - National Review - No 46
Serbia - National Review - No 46Serbia - National Review - No 46, russianSerbia - National Review - No 45Srpska - No 6
SRPSKA - National Review - No 5Tourism 2014SRPSKA - No 2
Tourism 2013
SRPSKA - National Review - Special Edition

Battle above Centuries
Legends of Belgrade
History of the Heart


Чувар светих хумки
Србија од злата јабука - друго издање
Orthodox Reminder for 2013
Пирот - Капија Истока и Запада
Беочин - У загрљају Дунава и Фрушке Горе
Србија, друмовима, пругама, рекама
Србија од злата јабука
Туристичка библија Србије

Коридор X - Европски путеви културе
Београд у џепу
Тло Србије, Завичај римских царева
Добродошли у Србију