Belgrade’s suburb Kaludjerica (today with almost 30 000 inhabitants), is the remarkable by-product of the modernisation of Belgrade, Serbia and Socialist Yugoslavia that followed the establishing of the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia in 1946 and took the country under the banner of self-management to an unprecedented phase of development. Kaludjerica however, stayed largely out of the reach of urban and financial planning and came up with its very own model of development. The publication Kaludjerica from ŠKLJ  TO ABC – a life in the shadow of modernisation writes its (unofficial) history, and contemplates if “justice” can be done to its still largely unresolved status.


[a life in the shadow of modernisation]

In the enthusiastic phases of the modernisation of socialist Yugoslavia, not everybody shared the benefits and advantages of the state housing policy, which guaranteed the right to an apartment for each employee. Hence, thousands of citizens took the future into their own hands, and constructed thus their own housing. Looking at its simultaneously modern and traditional houses, its position in the city, its confusing status and negative public image, one can ask: is Kaludjerica the top or the bottom of the philosophy and practice of self-management, acclaimed in Yugoslav times?

Most of Kaludjerica, since the late 1960s, has been self-constructed. So far, no state institution found the right way to engage in comprehensive inclusion of this settlement into the city structure and urban plans. The notions of illegality, lack of regulation (“wildness”), lack of hygiene etc. already early on got attached to the entire suburb, as well as to other parts of the outskirts of Belgrade where today hundreds of thousands of people live and work. Decades of confrontations and standoffs with the state and the city authorities have been inscribed in the cultural and political profile of the settlement. The ways of parcelling land, organising building lots and designing houses, the ways of establishing and maintaining streets and improvised infrastructure, like the water and sewage systems, trace the history of a negotiation between a rapidly urbanising and modernising society and its shadowed, even hidden back yard.

[an unofficial history]

The base for Kaludjerica from ŠKLJ to ABC is a set of 15 interviews with inhabitants of Kaludjerica made during Summer 2011. They speak about different aspects of their arrival, settling down, life and future expectations in the neighbourhood. We tried to transfer this dense and vivid information into an illustrated narrative, in which, along with the experiences of a number of fictional characters, the unofficial history of Kaludjerica is sketched. However, understanding Kaludjerica’s history implies delving into the housing policy of Socialist Yugoslavia. The dialectic between unplanned reality and model society gives rise to a moment of contemplation – what if – in which the characters investigate the possibility of (re-)writing the history and future of the settlement along a fair model of modernisation.

[from Kaludjerica to the world?]

Looking at Kaludjerica today its disadvantages could also turn it into a pioneering position: “Worldwide there are a lot of settlements and communities that face similar challenges, especially in fast developing regions and cities. Kaludjerica could become the centre of such grass-roots innovations for all infrastructural needs. From the sewage they could even produce biogas and energy for the neighbourhood! And the city could benefit as well from such expertise – to make a leap into the future.”

*** ŠKLJ is Serbian slang for a confusing, messy situation or thing whose colloquial equivalent in English could be SNAFU.

  • [team ] STEALTH.unlimited (Ana Džokić and Marc Neelen) and Nebojša Milikić
  • [research support ] Nebojša Kitanović
  • [drawings ] Vahida Ramujkić
  • [print of second, extended edition] Standard 2, Belgrade – May 2012, 1500 copies
  • [background ] Kaludjerica from ŠKLJ TO ABC is a part of the project Unfinished Modernisations: Between utopia and Pragmatism (2010-2012) a project envisioned by the Croatian architects’ association, in collaboration with association of Belgrade architects (Serbia), coalition of sustainable development (Macedonia), museum of architecture and design, Maribor art Gallery (Slovenia) and Oris-house of architecture (Croatia).
  • [timeline ] April 2011 – May 2012