Dobrović in Dubrovnik: A venture in modern architecture

villa vesna lopud go dubrovnik croatia
Villa Vesna, The View from the rooftop, Island of Lopud, 1939

These days a new book, by authors Krunoslav Ivanišin, Wolfgang Thaler and Ljiljana Blagojević, is under the loop!
It has been published by Jovis from Berlin, specialized for the books in the fields of art and architecture; great team with a even greater topic! Nikola Dobrović in Dubrovnik!
Krunoslav Ivanišin is awarded architect from Dubrovnik, a partner in the Design studio Ivanišin. Kabashi. Architects. and an adjunct professor at the chair for architectural design on the Architectural Faculty in Zagreb.
Wolfgang Thaler is a photographer for Vienna specialized for architecture, while Ljiljana Blagojević is Belgrade architect as well as professor at their Architectural Faculty where she teaches the courses which originally were founded by prestigious professor Nikola Dobrović, and that is theory and history of contemporary architecture.

villa adonis kono croatia go dubrovnik
Villa Adonis, Kono, Dubrovnik, 1939

Nikola Dobrović, was born at the end of 19th century in Pecs, Hungary. He got his degree from Prague Technical University and his main works were given birth by the end of 1930s in Dubrovnik and surroundings. In less than a decade, he managed to build one monument, five family villas, Grand Hotel at the Island of Lopud, a Students Union hostel, and a conversion of existing villa project with landscape design for its garden. Each of them is a master work of the heroic modern architecture of international style blended with surrounding where his work and nature complement each other.

villa vesna lopud croatia go dubrovnik
Villa Vesna, Isand of Lopud, 1939

Dobrović’s Dubrovnik period is described through two texts illustrated with archive material, photographs as well as original blue prints and documents signed by Krunoslav Ivanišin and Ljiljana Blagojević. Authors debate Dobrović phenomena in Dubrovnik, circumstances under which they were accomplished, who were his investors, who understood his articulation and vision of architecture and who didn’t. They evoke question of Villas names, such as Adonis, Rusalka, Svid and Vesna. Tempting question to answer was why his master piece, Grand Hotel, was signed with 30 centimeters high letters casted in concrete . . . how come all building got preserved till today!?
Actual condition of Dobrović’s Dubrovnik opus is very precisely documented in the Wolfgang Thaler colors. His photography does not hide a thing and he vividly brings to life the timeline of each project. Gradual slow motioned decay of integrated concrete, “machines for living” under mediterranean sun and rain as well as social conditions that did not always go in their favor. Dobrović’s work in Dubrovnik is locally conditioned but of universal significance.
After the World War II, Dobrović moved to Belgrade to deal with urban planning of the capital city. There, he became the permanent professor at the Faculty for Architecture as well as the author of numerous books on contemporary architecture. He was coming back to Dubrovnik in his texts, and one of the most famous ones was written in 1965. The text remained recognized as a testament due to his medical condition. Too soon death prevented him from building his own residence on the island of Lopud.

villa svid zaton go dubrovnik croatia
Villa Svid, Zaton,1940

Exhibition DOBROVIĆ IN DUBROVNIK: A VENTURE IN MODERN ARCHITECTURE was carried out by Oris House of Architecture in Zagreb, with photographs of Wolfgang Thaler and original documents and items from the Dobrović’s Dubrovnik period. Pieces include photographs of the construction process of Villa Adnonis, original blue prints of Villa Vesna, Villa Rusalka and Grand Hotel, tourists brochures, luggage tags with motif of Grand Hotel’s modern architecture, even plates and silver cutlery borrowed from the inheritors of the hotel.

villa adonis kono go dubrovnik
Villa Adonis, Kono, Dubrovnik, The interior with built-in furniture 1939

Zagreb exhibition closed its door in order to open the Dubrovnik one. Therefore Save the Date – April 8th is the opening day in Palace Sponza. The event is being carried out again in the cooperation with Oris House of Architecture, called Weekend with Oris.
Palace Sponza is definitely monumental space that can deservingly host such event however there is a more reason to it. Sponza’s floor was paved after Dobrović’s project. In 1935, the flooring was restored into the elegant articulation of white stone plates discontinued with stripes in black pebbles. In addition to it, one side arch was immured with built-in doors surrounded with glass bricks typical for his Dubrovnik opus.