Petovar: ‘Belgrade at risk of urban collapse’

“Voracity, greed, arrogance and the right of the strongest have annulled spatial planning and construction on a human scale and threaten to destroy the identity of Belgrade and the cultural heritage of the entire country,” says sociologist Ksenija Petovar, a retired professor at the Faculty of Architecture and Geography.

In an interview for, Petovar warns that “as long as citizens believe that the bear will not come to their door, we will be prisoners to the slave mentality”. The expert also criticized the Belgrade Waterfront project when it was still in a design phase, and now says that we are witnessing a brutal and violent change in the physiognomy of the urban space, the degradation of the urban heritage and the change of the silhouette which Belgrade is renowned for.

“The key objections I had regarding the Belgrade Waterfront project have come true. Instead of the recognisable image of Kalemegdan and Vracar, as you are entering Belgrade from the west, all you see now are skyscrapers almost touching each other, and a monstrosity of glass facades emerging from the Sava River. As a citizen, I am horrified by the ease with which the identity of my city and its urban structure are being destroyed. Urban public spaces and the banks of the Sava and Danube are occupied now, urban traffic is being forcibly relocated and the central axes of the old urban core are being moved. We still don’t know to whom the riverbanks, more than a hundred hectares of the city’s most valuable public space, have been sold,’ Petovar points out.

Asked what will be the consequences of the change in the city’s spatial plan, which allows the construction of buildings up to 100 metres high and significantly smaller green areas and green protection belts, she said that living in skyscrapers costs a lot, adding:

“Ask the Belgraders who live in skyscrapers about the quality of their life there and how much it costs to maintain lifts, installations and other equipment so that the building does not turn shabby. Now there are plans to build even more multi-storey buildings, without any study of the impact of the buildings on traffic flows in the area. I fear that the Belgrade Waterfront project will be an integral part of the urban collapse into which Belgrade is slowly and inexorably sliding. The most painful issues are always the same: unregulated drainage of sewage and other waters, unregulated and illegal landfills and devastated local roads.“

The expert also points out that green areas in Belgrade are constantly being reduced, against the relevant regulations; protected areas are being devastated by investors, rows of trees are being cut down and buildings are being built on privately owned land plots, all practices that go against urban norms.

“Urbanism as a science and the practice of urban planning has been abolished by voracity, greed, ruthlessness, arrogance, shamelessness and the right of the fittest. Urban plans are approved by obedient experts who would lose their licence if they acted independently and professionally. When there is a prevalent opinion that square metres and concrete surfaces are worth more than trees, grass, safe areas for children to play, woods and city parks, then the city turns into a pile of concrete and glass,” Petovar concludes.

(Novi Magazin, 09.01.2022)


This post is also available in: Italiano

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