Concrete Utopia and Yugoslav Architecture

Erected in bucolic fields in the middle of nowhere, spomeniks ― which means ‘monuments’ in Serbo-Croatian ― look like alien docking stations, Star Trek props or Rick Owens furniture. Commissioned by ‘third way’ Balkan boss Josip Broz Tito back in the day to commemorate World War II battle sites, these slick slabs resist traditional ideas of what a war monument should be.

Tito tapped avant-garde architects and artists of the Yugoslav cultural movement, such as Dušan Džamonja, Vojin Bakić, Miodrag Živković, Iskra Grabul, etc., to design them with tons of physical-visual gusto demonstrating the confidence and strength of the once unified Socialist Republic.

The spomeniks and brutalist beasts are basically ginormous sculptures with sci-fi qualities — huge, hardcore and totally hypnotizing. They are totem-like monoliths that embody abstract forms, axiomatic lines, convex contours and jagged geometries that appear to be engineered by extraterrestrials.

We love them for their intergalactic edge, indefinable essences and wide-body wingspans. Built as tributes to a now-forgotten egalitarian future free of ethnic divisions, fascism and sectarian strife, the architecture represents a romanticized, pluralistic ideal that almost steps outside of time.