Zagreb

An architect before his time

more than a year ago

Stjepan Planić (1900-1980) a Zagreb-born architect, was struck by the poverty of the inter-war period, and became concerned with the social aspect of housing. He believed that the people who live and work in buildings every should be at the heart of architecture, and that they should be healthy and happy in their spaces.

Every part his buildings had to have a function for whoever lived in it (i.e. functionalism), and while the interior had to breathe freedom and dynamism, the exterior should be in harmony with its surroundings.

Many examples of Planić’s work can be seen in Novi Zagreb. (No, we’re only joking). Although many of the architects who dreamed up the tower blocks of the 1960s imagined they were contributing to a brighter tomorrow, it can’t often be said that these buildings are in harmony with their surroundings). Seriously though, there are several good examples of Planić’s work in and around Zagreb.

The blue building at Bogovićeva 1 shows his love of rounded forms. One of his signature cube-shaped houses (kocke) is at Andrijevićeva 14 (just off Vinogradska). Back to nature, the mountain hotel Tomislavov Dom on Sljeme is another of the buildings that Planić contributed to his city.

Oddly, considering his humanist beliefs, Planić was also the architect responsible for converting Meštrović’s circular arts pavilion (E-3, Trg žrtava fašizma) into a mosque during the Nazi quisling regime, an act for which he became unpopular under Tito. It was converted back, so nothing remains of this rather unfortunate episode. Planić quietly continued his work. Although he is best remembered for his pre-war works, he carried on almost until his death in 1980, designing almost 700 buildings.

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