At a time when there is a rising interest in the world in the architectural heritage of the former Yugoslavia, the revaluation of which is starting at the international level – as witnessed to by the major Concrete Utopia exhibition recently put on in MoMA in New York – there is a need to endorse the work of individuals who have contributed to the success and recognisability of Yugoslav architecture in the world. Accordingly, this lecture will focus on one of the actors on the scene most to be credited with this reputation – the Zagreb architect Boris Magaš – to whom in his 1985 book Zeitgenössische Architektur in Osteuropa Udo Kultermann devoted a whole chapter, as the most important architect from the area of Yugoslavia.
Magaš proved himself to be a superlative architectural designer most of all along the Adriatic coast, producing hotel complexes drawing on the basic elements of the Mondrian aesthetics of square forms. In other parts of Yugoslavia, he concerned himself with cultural and social buildings in the style of late modernity, with white, "levitating volumes." Through a few key designs and built works, the lecture will show that during the 20th century, although working in a socialist environment, Magaš came closest to what might be called a starchitect from behind the Iron Curtain.