top of page

13 Unfinished Architectural Relics of the Yugoslav-era

Updated: Sep 6, 2023

The 1980s era in Yugoslavia could be characterized by its substantial amount of economic crisis and turmoil. During the first five years of the decade, the value of the Yugoslav dinar compared to the dollar plunged from 15 to 1,370 and hyperinflation ran wild. Then, as the 1990s approached, Socialist Yugoslavia was dismantled, new states were created, political situations change and a long series of wars began. On top of all that, the eager eyes of privatization loomed over all state-owned assets in the post-socialist era. It was within this tumultuous economic, political and social atmosphere that dozens of large-scale construction projects going on across Yugoslavia were forced to reckon and keep their heads above water. While most of such building projects were eventually able to pull through and complete their projects in some shape or form, there were some, however, that were so not so lucky. Some of these large-scale construction project, only partially completed, were stricken and struck down by some or all of the above-mentioned afflictions, leaving their huge unfinished forms (sometimes decayed, sometimes destroyed) haunting the landscape for decades, standing as bitter reminders of the past, reminders of war, reminders of corruption, reminders of promises unkept or simply a reminder of what was lost. It is these such sites that we will examine and investigate in this article.

In each entry in this article, we will examine the history of the building in question, investigating the impetus of the building’s creation, who built, why was it built, who funded it, what circumstances led to its demise and what has been its ultimate fate. Furthermore, we will look at how these derelict idle buildings affected the communities in which they reside and what might be in store for their futures. Many of these locations are sparsely written about (as some would rather have them be forgotten) and they all are rarely, if ever, compared side-by-side, so, this article will most certainly be the first exercise in all of them being grouped and examined as a whole. As such, I hope the stories and trajectories of these ruined sites all brought together and collectively evaluated might impart some level of historical insight or clarity that might not have existed when looking at them individually. Meanwhile, some of these sites are so old and have been sitting neglected, abandoned and forgotten for so many decades that many young people who live amongst them and see them every day may have absolutely no concept whatsoever of what they are, why they are there, why they sit forgotten or what they were ever supposed to be in the fist place. Perhaps some of these young people will find this article and learn their stories. Lastly, this is a collection of the few sites of this nature of which I am aware. If any readers of this article are aware of further sites that fit into this category, please reach out to me so I can continue to add to this list into the future.

 

Staklena Banka, Mostar, BiH

A recent photo of the Staklena Banka in Mostar. Credit: Giles Clarke/Getty Reportage

Name: Staklena Banka (The Glass Bank)

Location: Mostar, BiH

Architect: Dragan Bijedić

Year started: around 1987


In 1987, construction work began on a new business tower and banking center for the Slovene financial company “Ljubljanska banka” in the heart of Mostar, BiH, right next to the popular HIT Department Store. Designed by Sarajevo architect Dragan Bijedić (who is also known for designing the colorfully famous “Papagajka” in Sarajevo with Mladen Gvozden), this tower came to be known as the “Staklena Banka” or “The Glass Bank”, referring to the buildings unique sheer glass facade, which was to be the first building in Mostar to have such a flashy contemporary styling. In addition to a bank, this facility was also intended to eventually house the administrative offices for the regional Sokol Association and the local aluminum plant. The building had reached its final height (about 30m tall) and its last stages of completion by 1992, thus becoming the tallest building in Mostar for that period. At that point, the sharp angular structure was adorned with its blue glass facade installed within an aluminum framework across all of its 10 floors, while its 8,400 sq m of office space was being prepared for office tenants. However, the Bosnian War which began that year indefinitely delayed the opening of the Glass Bank. Through the course of that war, the tower’s high vantage point led to it being used as a sniper’s nest by soldiers, which, as a result, led to the the structure being targeted by artillery fire. Subsequently, the entire building was devastated to such a degree that, by the end of the war, all that was left was the tower’s concrete skeleton.

A vintage early 1990s photo of the Staklena Banka with its original blue glass.
A 2009 photo of the Staklena Banka when it still has its aluminum lattice. Credit: Rejflinger@Wikipedia

After the Bosnian War, the Glass Bank building was left in ruins and remained that way for many decades. The decaying tower still retained the aluminum lattice on its facade until about 2009 (which still even held on to a few original blue glass panes), however, by 2010 the lattice was remove from the exterior. Its derelict remains became an attraction for homeless people, drug users, graffiti artists and curious urban explorers. Many of the “alternative” local tourist guides even began to bring eager foreigners there who were looking to relish in the region’s ruins of war, with the popular American travel website Atlas Obscura even having a profile page dedicated to the site. Though, while it has been a popular tourist site for Mostar, this destroyed concrete hulk has hung as a burden around the neck of the city for decades now, with legal and administrative roadblocks preventing any progress on the site.

A view of the interior of the Staklena Banka at one of the "sniper nests". Credit: Martijn Munneke@Wikipedia

However, in 2017, the government of FBiH bought the tower for 3 million euros with the intention to rehabilitate it, setting aside another 6.5 million euros for its restoration. As of 2021, efforts are clearly in motion towards that goal. Though, even these efforts could be hampered, as the tower’s architect, Dragan Bijedić, is suing the FBiH government for copyright issues in relation to the changes being made to the structure. A more detailed examination of the state of the building, its condition and plans for restoring it can be found in THIS government document. Lastly, the Glass Bank was featured on the Viasat History channel show “Forsaken Places” in episode 4 (titled “Broken Brotherhood”), which can be watched at THIS YouTube link.

 

The Blue Hospital, Bugojno, BiH

A recent view of the ruins of the Blue Hospital in Bugojno, BiH. Credit: Bugojno Danas

Name: The Blue Hospital (“Plava bolnica”)

Location: Bugojno, BiH

Architect: “Biro 71”

Year started: 1986


There was great excitement in the air in Bugojno, BiH in March of 1986 as ground was broken on the construction of a new grand hospital complex for the community. With work on the facility funded by the community itself (with 5% taken out of every local workers’ paycheck during the hospital’s construction phase), everyone in Bugojno was looking forward to this project getting underway. Positioned atop a hillside near the town center called “Obješenica”, the “Bugojno Medical Center”, as it was officially known, was to serve not just Bugojno, but also the surrounding communities of Donji Vakuf, Gornji Vakuf and Kupres (who were also contributing towards its funding). As construction progressed with the completion of the facility’s concrete skeleton, in 1988, a charismatic modern blue facade began to be installed around these bones of the building. It was from this dynamic facade that the building gained its nickname “The Blue Hospital” or “Plava bolnica”. The authors of this project were the Slovene architectural group “Biro 71”, made up of Štefan Kacin, Radisav Popović, Jurij Princes & Bogdan Spindler, who also created additional “Blue Hospital” projects during the Yugoslav-era in Zagreb, Croatia and in Zrenjanin, Serbia.

A drone view of the ruins of the Blue Hospital in Bugojno, BiH. Credit: Bugojno Danas
A vintage 80s photo showing the Blue Hospital with its original blue panels.

Work slowed on the hospital’s construction during the beginning of the 1990s as the nation’s economy worsened, then, as the Bosnian War started in 1992, work on the facility was halted entirely. However, the construction efforts of the Blue Hospital were not affected by the war and by its conclusion, the work site of the facility was still largely intact. Yet, despite the war being over, construction at the hospital did not resume. It was at this point of inactivity and inattention that local vandals and thieves began looting the construction site of valuables and its building materials. It even reached the point where the hospital’s expensive blue facade panels were being ripped from the concrete skeleton of the unfinished building. In just a few years, all that was left of the site was a heap of empty hollow derelict remains. Since the 1990s, the Blue Hospital has continued to stand in this abandoned and derelict condition. As such, a building that was initially undertaken to be the pride of Bugojno, funded by its own citizenry, has today turned into an object of disappointment and a symbol of promises unfulfilled. As one newspaper notes, it stands “as a sort of mockery of the city”. I found no articles or sources indicating that there are any efforts planned by the municipal government of Bugojno, who own the site, to restore, refurbish or complete the abandoned ruins of the never-completed Blue Hospital. In April of 2022, the news outlet “Srednja Bosna Danas” posted a +40 minute long video on YouTube the local Bugojno citizen, Adil Ramčić, voicing his anger and frustration with this decades-old problem.

 

Dom Penzionera, Sarajevo, BiH

A vintage late 80s photo of the Dom Penzionera in Sarajevo, BiH

Name: Dom Penzionera

Location: Sarajevo, BiH

Architect: Mladen Gvozden

Year started: 1986


In 1986, the Social Fund for Pensions and Disability Insurance of the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina announced a competition for a conceptual design contest for a new facility that would come to be known as the “Dom Penzionera” (“Retirement Home”). This commission for this project was subsequently awarded to an ambitious proposal put forward by the Sarajevo architect Mladen Gvozden. The Dom Penzionera was nearing its final completion in 1992 after five years of construction. Built at a cost of roughly 16 million Deutsch Marks, the facility consisted of 16,000 square meters of floor space and contained 150 beds (which were intended for use both as pensioner living and hotel room accommodation). A seven-level tower next to the apartments would include not only residential services for the elderly, but also an intensive care unit on the top floor and a dedicated morgue in the tower’s basement. As work progressed, it was shaping up to become among the most ambitious and innovative retirement communities in the country.

A vintage late 80s photo of the Dom Penzionera in Sarajevo, BiH.
A vintage late 80s photo of the Dom Penzionera in Sarajevo, BiH.

Broken up into several distinct components, the most noticeable and overt characteristic of the Dom Penzionera is its in-your-face pop-art usage of bold playful color combinations and eclectic use of various architectural shapes and forms. This bright fragmented arrangement of Bauhaus-inspired curves, traditional row house apartments, futuristic glass tubes, vividly colored bricks, and a collage of modern, traditional and vernacular motifs all came together to form something completely new in the Sarajevo city landscape. This visual eclecticism takes center stage in the exuberant and chaotic celebration of color, texture and pattern that defines Gvozden’s Dom Penzionera. As a result of this dynamic playful appearance, locals in Sarajevo gave the complex the affectionate nickname “Disneyland”.

A recent photo of the ruins of the Dom Penzionera in Sarajevo, BiH. Credit: Roberto Conte

However, Gvozden’s Dom Penzionera standing as an icon of Sarajevo’s modern architectural backdrop was not a destiny that came to pass. As construction on the complex was completed in 1992, several dozen pensioners were preparing themselves to move into the facility, with care workers readying rooms and services for their elderly patrons. Yet, as the year progressed, the Bosnian War broke out and the long violent Siege of Sarajevo began. This series of events put a sudden end to the Dom Penzionera without ever having the ability to hold an official opening or the ability to welcome any retired folks to their new home. With the start of the conflict in Sarajevo, UN peacekeeping forces of UNPROFOR from the Netherlands, Canada, France, Belgium, Sweden (among others) stationed in Sarajevo appropriated the Dom Penzionera, moving into the facility and turning it into a makeshift barracks. This site was chosen for the UN troops because it was just a few hundred meters away from the main UN Headquarters, which was being housed in the PTT building along Bulevar Meše Selimovića (what is today the BH Telecom building). These UN forces were enchanted by the playful design of the Dom Penzionera and gave it the nickname “The Rainbow Hotel”. The photos taken by these UN soldiers of their new home are some of the only existing images depicting the facility before its untimely devastation and destruction.

A photo of the ruins of the Dom Penzionera in Sarajevo, BiH. Credit: Klix.ba

By the end of the war in the mid-1990s, the Dom Penzionera was completely devastated and left in utter and complete ruin. In this new country of Bosnia i Herzegovina, the state-owned Social Fund for Pensions and Disability Insurance retained ownership of the remnants of the facility, keeping hold of it for more than two decades, all while numerous other government properties around the city were privatized. During these decades, the facility sat as an unfortunate graffiti-covered blight upon the landscape and, with its thousands of bullet holes and shelling scars, served as a constant reminder of the war for all those who passed by it. Despite calls to preserve this architecturally important complex, in 2021, the Dom Penzionera was sold yet for 10.3 million euros to a company called Mont Ing from Visoko, BiH, with the intention to demolish the complex. Yet as of the summer of 2022, the ruins of the complex remain standing. Future plans for the site intend to turn it into a large commercial and retail hub called “Capital Centar”. See my full article on the Dom Penzionera at THIS link.

 

University Hospital, Zagreb, Croatia

Name: University Hospital (“Sveučilišna bolnica”)

Location: Zagreb, Croatia

Architect: Biro 71

Year started: 1982


In the southwestern Zagreb suburb of Blato along the Sava River, planning efforts began in 1982 towards the construction a massive medical complex that would operate as the city’s new University Hospital. Intended to be the largest and most technologically advanced hospital in Croatia, the ambitious project quickly grew to a size of over 200,000 sq meters of floor space, with the intention of housing over 1,000 hospital beds. The design for this enormous facility was undertaken by the notable Slovene architectural firm “Biro 71”, with Štefan Kacin, Jurij Prince and Bogdan Spindler, who were during this same time creating the now-famous Blue Hospital in the Dubrava area of Zagreb. Meanwhile, the funding for the project was taken directly from the income of Zagreb’s citizenry (known as “self-contribution”) with a 1.5% payroll tax each year for five years. With on-the-ground construction starting in 1985, the original opening date was set for September of 1987, however, barely even 20% of the facility was completed by this point. As a result, a second round of “self-contribution” for four more years was instituted. The situation of constructing the hospital was made all the more difficult largely as a result of the deteriorating financial situation and austerity measures in Yugoslavia during the 1980s, which greatly slowed progress. Also slowing progress was the fact that the project was initially presented to the public as a conventional clinical hospital for the New Zagreb region but plans were later changed by government officials (without public approval) for the facility to be much larger and complicated University Hospital complex (roughly doubling its initially presented size), which obviously resulted in a significant increase in the labor, materials and costs required.

A recent photo of the unfinished ruins of the University Hospital in Zagreb, Croatia. Credit: Jan Hribljan

Thus, after 10 years of construction, the hospital was only about 50% completed by 1992. Estimates of the total expenditure by the government on this hospital project are equivalent to around 157 million euros. By 1994, the spiraling costs, changes in government and a lack of any further political will resulted in all work on the University Hospital being suspended. The husks of sprawling concrete shells that were left behind is a distinct and unique arrangement of modernist forms. Biro 71, who are renowned for their ambitious architectural projects, created an array of six low angular towers in a repeating pattern with a blue glass facade, which themselves were flanked by towering sculptural webs of white metal lattices (which can almost be mistaken for scaffolding upon first glance). Laid out to the south of these towers were a series of long pavilion-style wings engineered with living landscape roofs (“green roofs” as they’d be called today), which was certainly an element of this project that was ahead of its time. Clearly postmodern in its styling, the University Hospital, if it had ever been completed, would have been a stunning architectural achievement.

A recent photo of the unfinished ruins of the University Hospital in Zagreb, Croatia. Credit: XIII_VII_C at Reddit
A recent photo of the unfinished ruins of the University Hospital in Zagreb, Croatia. Credit: Dom inik@GoogleMaps

However, that was not to be, and after work ceased in 1994, the unfinished hospital complex was left to the forces of nature. The primary utility it saw over the decades was as a storage warehouse. In addition, the derelict hospital became the target of looters who wished to scavenge valuable materials, as well as vandals who wished to destroy and deface the structure. Meanwhile, it has been used as a backdrop for numerous urbex YouTube videos, music videos, films and TV series, most recently utilized by the 2021 Netflix sci-fi show “Tribes of Europa”. However, it has largely stood as a thorn in the side of Zagreb’s residents and government officials over this huge amount of elapsed time. Some newspapers even go so far as to call these ruins the “mockery of Zagreb”, while Zagreb film director Borut Šeparović notes thatthis never-completed building reminds us of the seemingly endless, now forty-year-old process of transition without end…” In 2020, Šeparović and the art collective Montažstroja put on an exhibition titled “In Formation, In Liquidation” at Zagreb’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MSU), where they examined the history, architecture and controversy of the unfinished University Hospital. Šeparović is also in the process of making a documentary film about the creation and destruction of the site. While some gestures have been made in recent years by government officials to finally address this lingering issue of the fate of the hospital, as of 2022, it continues to deteriorate at the same rate it has been since 1994. It is estimated that about 500 million euros would be needed to complete the facility. A more detailed examination and investigation of the history of the University Hospital in Zagreb can be read in an article found at THIS link by the journal Građevinar.

 

Motel “Marsonia Jug”, Slavonski Brod, Croatia

A recent photo of the ruins of Motel Marsonia Jug in Slavonski Brod, Croatia. Credit: SBPlus

Name: Motel “Marsonia Jug”

Location: Slavonski Brod, Croatia

Architect: [unknown]

Year started: 1980s


During the late 1980s, the INA petrol station along the motorway in Slavonski Brod, Croatia, situated right besides a convenient pull-off and rest stop, were looking to expand their offerings to motorists at this site. The complex that INA decided to build was expansive roadside accommodation that they named Motel “Marsonia Jug” (or “Motel Marisona South”). This complex was meant to be a substantial expansion of the much smaller “Motel Marisona North” that stood just across the motorway by the adjacent westbound INA petrol station. Unfortunately, very little information is available concerning its construction, who its architect was, or the exact specifications it was meant to have. However, what is known is that construction on the project ceased around the early 1990s as a result of the dismantling of Yugoslavia and the war that took hold of this region during that time period. It was at this point that the Motel “Marsonia Jug” began to descend into a state of disrepair and dereliction. In addition, the Motel Marisona North property fell into a state of chaos and disrepair as well.

An interior view of the ruins of Motel Marsonia Jug in Slavonski Brod, Croatia. Credit: GoogleMaps

Through the subsequent three since the early 1990s, both the North and South Marisona Motels have sat idle and in a devastated condition. The INA Petrol company has maintained ownership of them but has been unable to find any investors who might be able to rehabilitate and/or complete the unfinished portions of these sites. As of 2022, both locations still sit just as they have been over the last 30 years. They stand now as mere curiosities for the millions of passers by of Slavonski Brod along on the motorway who see the empty masses of these abandoned properties on the side of the road.

 

The RAD Building, New Belgrade, Serbia

A recent photo of the RAD Building in New Belgrade, Serbia. Credit: personal photo

Name: The RAD Building

Location: New Belgrade, Serbia

Architect: RAD architects

Year started: 1989


One of the largest and most significant of the Yugoslav construction contractors based in Belgrade was a company called “RAD” (which translates to “work” in English). In 1989, they began construction on a new central headquarters for their operations in Block 20 of New Belgrade, just next to the famous Sava Center. Based on a design by their own in-house RAD architect team (which bears a resemblance to a concept by architect Svetislav Ličina), the plan was for an enormous 13 floor square tower spreading over 60,000 sq meters that was planned to stand as a testament to RAD’s success and influence across the country. The facility was to include a congress center, 400 offices and the most modern of amenities. One of the most striking aspects of the design was a massive triangular-shaped atrium that would slice through roughly half of the building’s volume all the way down to ground level. Sharing the funding of the project with the company “Energogas”, who RAD would share the building with, the project progressed into the early 1990s, even despite the disruptions from the breaking up of Yugoslavia that was occurring during this time period.


An aerial view of Block 20 with the RAD Building in New Belgrade, Serbia.Credit: Novosti.rs

However, by 1998, the crippling sanctions placed on Serbia by global powers and the financial crisis going on within the country pushed RAD into bankruptcy. It was at this point, so close to completion, that all work on RAD’s new headquarters building was ceased. However, just prior to bankruptcy, RAD began selling off their unfinished office tower in portions to various investors. As a result, the actual ownership of the building transformed into a complicated web of stakeholders, investors and creditors (along with plenty of lawsuits), which has hampered any further construction or even completion of the building. Consequently, this huge empty incomplete business tower stands as a mysterious and confounding problem for city officials, particularly as it is so massive, visible from all across the city, and one of the first things one sees as they enter New Belgrade after crossing Branko’s Bridge. The sole utility that the RAD building seems to offer is as a platform for advertisements and billboards. As of 2022, a set of massive signs from the Chinese communications company “Huawei” adorn the top of the white tower (which leads many passers-by to think this strange building is somehow connected to these foreign firms). One source aptly conveys the degree to which the RAD building is disconnected from its surroundings: “Although located in the very centre of today’s business district of New Belgrade, RAD’s building is literally invisible. This invisibility comes as a direct consequence of [the] space’s numbness, [its] lack of content that would attract activities/people... [it is necessary to] bring building, as architectural act, back to the mental map of people and the urban fabric that surrounds it.” From evaluating recent sources, establishing the fate of the RAD building is no closer today than when construction stopped roughly 25 years ago.

A recent photo of the Elektrodistribucija Building in New Belgrade, Serbia. Credit: personal photo

It is also important to mention yet another unfinished building just 35m to the south of the RAD building, which is an unusual blue glass stone-clad triangular building that was originally meant to operate as an office complex for electricity providers “Elektrodistribucija” Beograd (EDB) and Elektroprivreda Srbije (EPS). Work on this building began in 1998, just as work on the RAD building was coming to an end. Designed by famous Belgrade architect Mario Jobst, the structure stands on a 45 degree triangle footprint that reaches six levels in height and is spread across 45,000 sq meters of floorspace. With bands of reflective dark blue windows interspersed between equal bands of smooth brown stone panels that slice across the facade to razor sharp points, the structure embodies Jobst’s unique brand of postmodern styling. Meanwhile, in the basement of the facility was to be built a massive 110/10 KV transformer station, which was to be the largest in Belgrade. However, by the early 2000s, work on this project also came to a halt for reasons that have not been made public. Just like the RAD building, it also now sits in a state of dereliction and uncertainty. Security is ever present on both buildings and no access is allowed whatsoever.

 

Museum of the Revolution, New Belgrade, Serbia

A digital aerial view of the foundation ruins of what was to be the Museum of the Revolution in New Belgrade. Credit: GoogleMaps

Name: Museum of the Revolution

Location: New Belgrade, Serbia

Architect: Vjenceslav Richter

Year started: 1978


In 1959, the Central Committee of Yugoslav began to organize the creation of a Museum of the Revolution in New Belgrade that would stand as one of the centerpieces of this newly built city. Officially given the name “The Museum of the Revolution of the Peoples and Ethnicities of Yugoslavia”, a design competition for this new museum was announced in 1961. After receiving 29 entries, the selection committee chose a design created by famous Zagreb architect and artist Vjenceslav Richter. The design formulated by Richter was composed of an elevated multi-level square pavilion exhibition space (set to be roughly 75m wide), with the design being characterized by its concept of a tent-like sculptural roof meant to rise 50m into the sky. The facade of the museum itself would be composed of raw panels of pre-stressed concrete. In describing his motivations behind the design of the museum, one source notes that Richter was quoted as saying that “is to safeguard the truth about us… the architecture of the Museum of the Revolution has to express this pervasive and great idea. Our idea and the idea of us. It is as much ours as it is new and authentic”.

A concept model for the Museum of the Revolution in New Belgrade. Credit: Archive of Vjenceslav Richter
A photo of the foundation ruins of what was to be the Museum of the Revolution in New Belgrade. Credit: personal photo

Originally, the site chosen for the museum was to be close to the confluence of the Danube and Sava, adjacent to where the Museum of Contemporary Art is located, as part of a collection of museum institutions. However, the plan for this museum district at the confluence was subsequently scrapped (largely due to the close proximity of the river) and a new site for the Museum of the Revolution was chosen nearby between the SIV (aka: the Palace of Serbia) and the Central Committee (CK) Building (today the Ušće Tower). For many years through the 1960s and early 1970s, the construction of the museum was postponed as a result of a lack of funding. It was not until 1977 that a funding package was passed by the parliament, with a planned opening date set for 1981 in order to mark the 40th anniversary of the uprising against fascism during WWII. Construction on the project began in 1978, but progress was slow and funding was inconsistent, particularly as economic hardship struck Yugoslavia during the 1980s. The 1981 deadline passed with only the basement level of the structure completed and all construction had ceased with funds drying up. By the end of the 1980s, efforts on the project were all but abandoned and as the country of Yugoslavia began to be dismantled through the subsequent years, the unfinished construction site of the Museum of the Revolution fell into a state of ruin and dereliction. Its dark cavernous basement turned into a site of urban decay that sat forgotten within the fabric of New Belgrade, attracting homeless individuals and vagrants. From a distance, the only noticeable sign of the structure is a series of steel rod bundles that were meant to operate as supporting columns for the above-ground structure.


A photo of the interior ruins of the Museum of the Revolution in New Belgrade. Credit: promo image from film by Srđan Keča

Since the late 2010s, efforts have been underway to demolish the ruins of the Museum of the Revolution and replace it with a Philharmonic Center (set to cost around 30 million euros). In 2017, a design competition for this concert hall was won by an ambitious proposal put forward by architects Dragan Marčetić and Milan Maksimović. Images of the proposal can be seen at THIS link]. However, as of spring 2022, no effort towards this project is yet to be started.

 

Hotel “Jumkovac”, Vranjska Banja, Serbia

A view of the ruins of Hotel Jumkovac in Vranksja Banja, Serbia. Credit: Dragan Andjelkovic

Name: Hotel “Jumkovac”

Location: Vranjska Banja, Serbia

Architect: [unknown]

Year started: 1978


In the far southern Serbian resort community of Vranjska Banja, just 11km east of Vranje, a project began in 1978 to construct a massive touristic hotel overlooking Banjštica River right at the heart of the town’s popular spa zone. The construction of the hotel was initiated by the local Special Hospital for Rehabilitation with funds borrowed from the state’s Pension Insurance Fund (PIO). The project that was envisioned was quite immense considering the small size of the town, with the concept being a 270-room seven-level hotel tower (spread across 11,000 sq meters) built against the surrounding hillside. I was not able to establish the architect of this project, which is a shame as its bold brutalist architectural styling is quite impressive and unlike anything else seen at this time in southern Serbia. Significant progress was made during the first two years of the hotel’s construction, however, by 1980, all project funds were depleted. As a result, a few years later in 1984, the Special Hospital made a deal with the Vranje-based textile factory “Yumko” for the manufacturer to take ownership of the hotel from the hospital at no cost, but with the stipulation that they complete its construction. Upon taking over the hotel, Yumko begins work towards completing the project and bestows it the name “Hotel Jumkovac”, after its own brand name. However, after only five years of work and being only 70% complete, all further construction efforts are suspended in 1989.

A recent photo of ruins of Hotel Jumkovac in Vranska Banja, Serbia. Credit: Kurir

After Yumko failed to complete the hotel, the Special Hospital and the PIO demanded that Yumko return the property. This led to a series of decades-long lawsuits and legal battles that left the fate of Hotel Jumkovac in limbo. As such, the hotel began to fall into a state of disrepair and dereliction. Such an adverse condition was worsened by the site repeatedly being targeted by looters for its valuable fittings and materials, while the structure was defaced and damaged by vandals. Such a massive abandoned bare concrete structure soaring over the center of the resort town took a seriously negative toll on Vranjska Banja’s visitation and tourism. One source describes that the blighted remains of the hotel “held the citizens of Vranjska Banja hostage” after lingering over the community for so many decades. This led to many local residents jokingly referring to it as Hotel “Skadar na Banjštica”, which is in reference to an old Serbian folk poem “Skadar na Bojani” that is about the Mrnjavčević brothers who are trying to build a fortress but find the following morning after each days’ work that a covetous fairy (who desires the brothers’ wives) undoes all the work they had accomplished. According to the poem, only after sealing in one of the brothers’ wives inside the fortress walls was the fairy placated and the structure could be completed. The poem reinforces the old Slavic folk belief that it was impossible to build large structures without human sacrifice.


By 2019, all of the lawsuits between the Special Hospital, the PIO and Yumko had all been settled and adjudicated. It was at this point that the property was put up for sale for around 300,000 euros, with the stipulation that the purchaser must demolish the existing structure at their own cost. The property was subsequently purchased by a Belgrade company called the “Millenium Group”. In 2021, it was announced that Millenium would build two luxury resorts on this site that would be operated by chains of the American hotel company Marriott. It was also in 2021 that demolition on the ruins of the old Hotel Jumkovac began, which was completed in 2022.

 

"Zvezdara" Rehabilitation Institute, Aranđelovac, Serbia

A recent photo of the ruins of the Zvezdara Rehab Institute in Aranđelovac, Serbia. Credit: Pedja Miric

Name: "Zvezdara" Rehabilitation Institute for Endocrinological Diseases (aka: RH Zavod)

Location: Aranđelovac, Serbia

Architect: [unknown]

Year started: 1978


In the beautiful Šumadija region town of Aranđelovac, Serbia, which is well known and highly regarded for its healing mineral water spas, efforts began in 1978 towards the construction of a massive medical and convalescence facility. The spot chosen to build this facility was just south of the large verdant grounds of the Bukovička Spa Park (most likely for improved access to their amenities). Known as the "Zvezdara" Rehabilitation Institute for Endocrinological Diseases” (or “RH Zavod” for short), the funding for the project came from the pension fund of the local hospital workers. I was not able to establish the identity of the architect of this project, which is unfortunate as this is one of the most ambitious and forward-thinking concepts in Serbia during this era. Highly futuristic and geometric in its composition, the form of the structure takes the form of a sprawling pavilion-style complex (of around 3,000 sq meters) that is characterized by its angular concrete hexagonal arrangement. Most impressive among its forms are its dramatically cantilevered triangular entrance awning, its unique concrete roof and its domed atrium. Work on the Zvezdara facility continued until 1984, at which point it was near completion but all funds for continuing the project had been exhausted. The building reportedly had all glass installed, all interior fittings and much more, so, the facility was sealed up and put in a “stand-by” mode until more funds for the building could be secured.

A recent view of the ruins of the Zvezdara Rehab Institute in Aranđelovac, Serbia. Credit: personal photo

However, as the years passed, no further funds were secured for Zvezdara and, with the dismantling of Yugoslavia beginning in the 1990s, the future of the whole project itself came into question. As more time passed, the preserved construction site began to be afflicted by looters and vandals. Over the course of a few years, all the glass around the building was broken and all its valuable construction materials were stolen, leaving Zvezdara as simply an empty concrete husk, a condition in which it has sat for several decades now.

A recent view of the ruins of the Zvezdara Rehab Institute in Aranđelovac, Serbia. Credit: personal photo
A recent view of the ruins of the Zvezdara Rehab Institute in Aranđelovac, Serbia. Credit: personal photo

Although the 2014 General Regulation Plan for the town of Aranđelovac stipulated that the Zvezdara be completed as a top priority, no efforts towards such a goal were ever achieved. More recent official documents, as of 2020, from Aranđelovac town authorities indicate the new plan is to demolish the structure to build something new at some future time. One issue complicating any action being taken on the Zvezdara site is the unresolved financial situation of the building. As the construction of the facility was funded through the pensions of local hospital workers, debate continues up to the present day over the actual ownership of this site between those hospital workers and the state’s Pension Insurance Fund (PIO). As of 2022, the ruins of the Zvezdara complex continue to stand with no signs of action or restoration anywhere on the horizon. The site is unprotected, regularly targeted with graffiti and utilized as a local youth “hang out” spot.

 

House of Culture, Kuršumlija, Serbia

A recent view of the ruins of the House of Culture in Kuršumlija, Serbia. Credit: GoogleMaps

Name: House of Culture [Dom Kulture]

Location: Kuršumlija, Serbia

Architect: Franc Avbelj

Year started: 1987


About 50km west of Niš, Serbia, as the crow flies, is the small town of Kuršumlija, nestled within the northern foothills of Radan Mountain. In 1987, a grand civic project started in the town aimed at creating a massive House of Culture (Dom Kulture) for the community. Situated just north of the town center, the complex was to include a 500-seat conference hall, a cinema, a library, and much more. Created by Slovene architect Franc Avbelj, vast sprawling arms of brutalist concrete wings characterize the form of the facility, which was planned


to encompass over 10,000 sq meters. Organized by the local cultural branch of the “Self-Managing Community of Interest” (SIZ), the funds for the project were raised through “self-contribution” via deductions directly from the payrolls of workers. However, just a few years into the construction of the facility, all funding for any further work disappeared and the contractor working on the project went bankrupt. As a result of this financial tragedy, all work on the construction of the House of Culture stopped abruptly, despite having roughly 50% of the work completed.


After work ceased on Kuršumlija’s House of Culture project in the early 1990s, Serbia’s dire economic situation, along with the subsequent dismantling of Yugoslavia, marked the ultimate end of the building’s future, particularly as the local SIZ who organized the project ceased to exist. The municipality attempted to sell the unfinished structure to the army for their uses, an idea that seemed promising at first but that ultimately fell through. As such, the hollow shell of the House of Culture began to sit for many decades as a seemingly abandoned structure. Its valuables were looted and many vandals defaced and damaged the remains of the building. This has led to the building becoming quite the sore point of contention for the community of Kuršumlija, with local news sources referring to the structure as “a rat's nest and a monument to human stupidity”, as well as “a mockery of the municipality”. The local government of Kuršumlija has repeatedly attempted to find a solution that can solve the problem that is the House of Culture, but as of 2022, the ruined remains of the building still stand as a sad reminder of the past and what could have been.

A view of the ruins of Hotel Žubor at Kuršumlija Banja. Credit: Vladimir Miljić

Meanwhile, one other building in Kuršumlija region that must be briefly mentioned while discussing the topic of derelict Yugoslav-era sites is Hotel Žubor at Kuršumlija Banja (just 11km south of town). Also designed by Slovene architect Franc Avbelj and unveiled in 1982, this expansive +17,000 sq meter hot spring resort accommodation (as well as convalescence center) rose 7 levels tall and hosted 240 beds. Crafted in a natural harmonious style with an ascending shape and horizontal window banks that communed with the surrounding mountains, it also reflected aspects of high modernity, with towering glass protrusions and dramatic sloping sunrooms. A decorative fountain placed in front of the hotel unified all its elements, which was topped with a bronze sculpture by Slovene sculptor France Rotar from his 1976 series titled "Birth" or "Rođenje". Unlike other buildings on this list, Hotel Žubor did indeed operate for several years during the 80s and 90s, however, it was shut down in 2006 as a result of ownership disputes. The hotel has sat empty and in disuse for most of the time since then up to 2022. While sources indicate that it was supposed to re-open to the public as early as September of 2022, I have not yet seen any news to confirm whether that deadline was actually met. For a detailed history of Hotel Žubor, an excellent 2020 article by Aleksandra Branislav Jevtović on the subject is available HERE.

 

Zvezda 2 Hotel, Vrnjačka Banja, Serbia

A view of the ruins of Hotel Zvezda 2 located in Vrnjačka Banja, Serbia. Credit: Blic.rs

Name: Hotel Zvezda 2

Location: Vrnjačka Banja, Serbia

Architect: [unknown]

Year started: 1989


In the beautiful Šumadija region resort town of Vrnjačka Banja, Serbia, which has been widely known for centuries for its healing mineral springs, the local tourism company “Fontana” (the largest tourism purveyor in Serbia) made the decision to construct a new resort hotel complex in 1989. Situating the new accomodation right on the edge of Vrnjačka Banja’s serene and popular “Promenade Park”, the plan was for a large +10,000 sq meter facility that would offer over 500 beds and operate as the most luxurious resort in the community. Over the course of a year of construction, a six level tower of ascending concrete terraces began to take shape in the center of town, all extended outwards towards the park in a dramatic fashion. The name given to this complex was “Zvezda 2”, making it Fontana’s sort of “modern sequel” to the more traditionalist and classical 1920s “Hotel Zvezda” located just next door. Furthermore, this distinct architecture of Zvezda 2 was strikingly similar to the company’s flagship and self-named “Hotel Fontana” in Vrnjačka Banja, which was built in 1965 and was the first modern hotel in the town. Sadly though, I was not able to establish who the architect was for Zvezda 2. Though construction was progressing steadily during its first year, by 1990, with the economic crisis in Yugoslavia worsening, all work on the hotel project was halted.


While many thought the construction site of Zvezda 2 would quickly jump back to action, the site proceeded to sit as a vacant ruins for more than 30 years, operating as a blight and an eyesore within this scenic touristic community. During this time, numerous attempts were made at privatizing the unfinished property in hopes that some outside entity could complete the construction. Yet, for many years, no such groups came forward. During this time, the ruins were subject to looters stealing valuable materials from the site, as well as vandals damaging and defacing the structure. In addition, the empty building became a local hang out spot for young locals, which resulted in tragedy after several died after falling off the structure during the 2010s. At this point, it was clear to the local authorities of Vrnjačka Banja that something needed to be done about the haunting ruins of Zvezda 2, not only because they were a blight on the community but also because they were now seen to be a danger as well.

A recent photo of the new Hotel Zepterme in Vrnjačka Banja, Serbia. Credit: Dušan Kovačević

Salvation finally came for Zvezda 2 in 2017, when the site was purchased for about 660,000 euros by the famous Serbian company “Zepter”. Also, the Zepter company purchased the Zvezda 1 hotel next door at the same time for 1.4 million euros. Over the course of three years, Zepter invested roughly 7 million euros into the reconstruction and renovation of the Zvezda 2 complex. Then, in 2020, the now rejuvenated building was finally opened to the public for the first time after a 30 year wait. Hailing under the new name “Hotel Zepterme”, the newly opened facility bills itself as a luxury spa destination. Interestingly, this is the only entry on this list that demonstrates itself to be a full success story where a dilapidated unfinished Yugoslav-era ruins has been re-used (without demolition) and brought back to life for its community.


Also of note in Vrnjačka Banja in relation to long derelict structure is Hotel “Železničar”, which is an impressive early modernist building from the 1930s, also located literally right across Pomenade Park from Zvezda 2. Originally built and owned by the Serbian railways, hence the hotel’s name, the place was a center of action and culture in the town for many decades. By the 2000s, the hotel was under the ownership of a company named “Želturist” (a tourism subsidiary branch of the railway), yet, when they went bankrupt in 2015, the shuttered hotel was left in an unsecure state. As such, it was broken into by vagrants and indigents, who proceeded to wreck and tarnish the historic structure. The ruined hotel has become a black-eye on Vrnjačka Banja, with city officials desperately attempting to find a way to find an investor who will clean, repair and manage it. However, as of 2022, it continues to sit in ruin.

 

House of the Revolution, Nikšić, Montenegro

A view of the House of the Revolution in Nikšić, Montenegro. Credit: Dimitrije Labudovic

Name: House of the Revolution

Location: Nikšić, Montenegro

Architect: Marko Mušič

Year started: 1978


On September 8th, 1974, a day which marked the 30th anniversary of the liberation of the town of Nikšić, Montenegro, the town’s municipal council made the decision to construct a memorial house dedicated to the socialist revolution and those who fell during WWII fighting on its behalf. The name of this new institution was to be the "House of the Revolution" (Dom Revolucije). After a design competition was held soon thereafter, first prize was awarded to a submission put forward by Slovenian architect Marko Mušič (who had famously created the Spomen-Dom at Kolašin). The overall character of the building that Mušič envisioned was defined by an escalating series of shapes formed of angular concrete terraces and platforms, all containing within them a vast array of open spaces sheltered by panes of reflective deep blue glass. In this hybrid facade design of both raw concrete and blue glass panes, Mušič was working to unite together the solid and the amorphous, the ground and the sky, sharp angels with rolling waves, in what is essentially a work on contradictions that is both poetic yet imposing. Furthermore, it is within this synthesis that Mušič’s design takes on a postmodern aesthetic, with many similarities seen between the Neue Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart, Germany, itself a postmodern icon built around the same time. Meanwhile,other sources note that the form of the House of the Revolution also references local topography: “though the relation of the building to the built space is almost abstract, it is clear that the form originated from the morphology of the surrounding hills and mountains that borders Nikšić”. Interestingly, plans of the House of the Revolution bear keen similarities to the Biosphere 2 project in Arizona, however, that project began nearly 10 years after the one here in Nikšić. This comparison becomes even more interesting when seeing that, like Biosphere 2, the House of the Revolution project was also envisioned as a type of “utopian project”.

A view of the House of the Revolution in Nikšić, Montenegro. Credit: Kathmandu & Beyond

Meanwhile, his plan for a vast community complex went further than just mere museum space, with it also being designed to contain a cultural center, a 1,200-seat theatre, classrooms, gallery space, TV studio, a library, catering facilities, and much more. The cornerstone of the Dom Revolucije was then laid on September 8th, 1978 after which construction began in full. The project cost huge sums of money, with some sources estimating upwards of 25 million euros in today's values. The original size of the complex was originally only planned to be around 7,000 sq meters, however, through its construction during the 80s, the scope of the project increased to the point where by the end of the 80s, it had nearly tripled in size from its original projections as a result of requests for inclusions from various political bodies. However, it was at this point during the later part of the 80s that Yugoslavia began to experience extreme financial and political turmoil.


In 1989, Yugoslavia’s deteriorating situation meant that the city of Nikšić could no longer rely on supportive funds for the project from other Yugoslav republics (much less other Montenegrin cities). As such, the construction at the Dom Revolucije came to a complete halt. With the passing years, the unfinished and exposed structure sat largely abandoned and neglected through the subsequent decades. Furthermore, it has been extremely defaced and damaged over the years as the massive concrete husk is exploited by vandals, derelicts, weathering and encroaching vegetation. During this time, its degraded state stood as a sore spot and contentious issue among the citizens and politicians of Nikšić, as well as being a dangerous and hazardous area, as well over a dozen people have died in the structure since the 1990s from falling and/or drowning in the flooded basement. As one source notes: “Over time, the building became the antithesis of everything that is supposed to represent.” However, during the 2010s, it began to receive renewed attention, such as in 2014, when the Montenegro Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Biennale included the Dom Revolucije among the country's architectural wonders in the 'Treasures in Disguise' presentation.

A view of the House of the Revolution in Nikšić, Montenegro. Credit: Chris Luckhardt

Meanwhile, in 2016, a team of architects formulated plans to complete and rehabilitate the ailing structure. By mid-2020, some new construction for the redevelopment of the complex had been completed, yet this also included the demolition of part of the original structure. News articles report that developers say that the demolished sections of the complex were the result of concrete instability and that they will be rebuilt exactly as they were. Reports as of July of 2021 further indicate that the entire structure may very well be demolished. In that article, the architect Marko Mušič, who has been consistently working to preserve the complex over the decades, states: "I simply cannot understand why the people of Nikšić hate this (foreseen) center of culture, education, spirituality and youth, which was dedicatedly and with great self-denial created by their parents in a noble desire to give their children a better future and a chance for equal inclusion in the globalized reality of the world of our new times." However, as of the autumn of 2021, several shops and restaurants have now opened within the old Spomen-Dom complex (with extensive renovations), such as an IDEA supermarket, an Intersport and a fitness gym. With significant amounts of open space still available within the facility, there are even plans to relocate to this space the public broadcaster Radio-Television Nikšić. Finally, an interesting and unconventional utilization undergone by the ruins of the House of the Revolution in recent years has been its inclusion as a filming backdrop for the 2017 song "All Falls Down" by the British-Norwegian music producer and DJ Alan Walker.

 

Hotel “As”, Petrovac na Moru, Montenegro

A recent view of the unfinished "Hotel AS" located in Petrovac na Mora, Montenegro. Credit: Ilija Kostić (Ssticko)

Name: Hotel “AS”

Location: Petrovac na Moru, Montenegro

Architect: Stojan Kovačev

Year started: 1973


On Montenegro’s Adriatic seaside just west along the coast of the scenic town of Petrovac na Moru is a small settlement tucked within a beautiful cove known as Perazića Do, a spot often referred to as the "Pearl of the Adriatic". It was at this secret scenic spot that efforts began in 1973 towards the construction of a unique and dramatic hotel built directly into the surrounding cliffside, poised just meters from the waterfront itself. Helmed by architect Stojan Kovačev, this precarious and ambitious project resulted in a magnificent white structure that appeared as though it was a luxury ship sailing out of the rock of Petrovac out into the Adriatic. The project was funded by the Yugoslavia Automobile Association (“Auto-moto savez” or “AS”) and the German auto club ADAC (“Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club”), the biggest motoring club in Europe, along with the Belgrade-based housing cooperative “Komfor”. The project finally opened to the public in 1983 with 419 beds under the name “Hotel AS”, it truly was a seaside resort hotel like no other, towering 12 floors up into the surrounding cliffs, it gave a whole new perspective to the idea of “rooms with a view”. During the short time it operated, it was one of the most resplendent resorts along Yugoslavia’s Adriatic coast, hosting not only domestic tourists but also visitors from around the world.

A vintage postcard showing the original Hotel AS in Petrovac na Moru, Montenegro.

However, with the dismantling of Yugoslavia during the 1990s, an era of privatization began where many formerly state properties were sold off to private investors. Such was the case with Hotel AS, which was put up for sale in 2001 and sold in 2002 to a company called “Nega Tours” that was purported to be a joint venture between Montenegrin and Russian businessmen. This was among the first hotel privatizations in Montenegro and it was bought for 5 million DM, with the stipulation that it would invest 22 million DM into the property. The Nega Tours company had ambitions to vastly expand the hotel, which they aimed to rename “Adriatic Star”. They immediately closed the hotel and began work on a massive redevelopment project to renovate the existing tower, as well as building a brand new tower next to the old one that would soar over 16 floors. This renovation aimed to add a further 500 beds and 9,000 sq meters to the existing property. Work proceeded on the construction of this new tower slowly during the 2000s and early 2010s, however, by 2015, all building efforts at Hotel AS had stopped. This kicked off a series of lawsuits and investigations into the malfeasance, criminal activity and fraud that were alleged in the financial transactions of the privatization of this property. Legal proceedings still continue up to the present day and the derelict construction site of Hotel AS has been sitting idle and vacant for over a decade now.


Numerous commentators have made comparisons using the hotel’s boat-like appearance and its immense size to equate it to a Titanic-level catastrophe: “The history of the Hotel AS, which once was the real pride of Yugoslavia, in many respects recalls the story of the famous liner "Titanic". Just as the world-famous ship came across an iceberg and went to the bottom, it seems that this hotel was abandoned by all people after it ran aground at the foot of the mountain in the village of Perazića”. Many in Montenegro feel that it is an immense shame that one of the most beautiful and scenic Adriatic bays in the country is currently marred by a gigantic looming construction site, whose imposing presence seems to have no foreseeable resolution. As another news outlet states: “Hotel "AS" is synonymous with failed privatization, destruction of space and megalomaniacal wishes of investors that were never realized, while one of the most beautiful bays was destroyed.” As of 2022, there is talk that the American hotel company “Hilton” might be interested in the property, but, as of yet, such rumors have not yielded results. For more information about the history and controversy of Hotel AS, two good articles on the subject can be found HERE and HERE.

 

BONUS:

The following are additional building sites that users who read my article messaged me about and brought to my attention, which I am very grateful for. If anyone else reading has any further sites within the former Yugoslav region that would fit the theme of this article, by all means, please reach out to me!

 

Jugobanka Tower, Skopje, North Macedonia

An early 2010s photo of the ruins of Jugobanka Tower in Skopje being prepped for rebuilding. Credit: Faktor.mk

Name: Jugobanka Tower

Location: Skopje, North Macedonia

Architect: [unknown]

Year started: 1987


In 1987, the Belgrade-based state-owned financial services company “Jugobanka” began an effort to construct a new office tower in Skopje, in the then SR of Macedonia. The plan was for this new complex, funded by Jugobanka, was for a 14,000 sq meter 11 floor high rise right in the center of Skopje, just two blocks away from what is today the famous Macedonia Square. Unfortunately, I was not able to establish who was the architect of this building plan. The project was nearing completion by the early 1990s when the dismantling of Yugoslavia and the pressing financial problems of the country resulted in Jugobanka closing all its offices in Skopje and, as such, the new Jugobanka Tower was abandoned. The new government of Macedonia proceeded to take over ownership of the unfinished structure.

A view of the reconstructed Jugobanka into the Ministry of Finance in Skopje. Credit: Џоле @ Build.mk

It was at this point the tower sat in an unused and derelict state for more than two decades. Locals often referred to it as the “murder building” (зграда-убиец), as a result of the many people who squatted the structure (many homeless and indigent individuals) subsequently dying from accidental falls. In addition, there were issues of pieces of the Jugobanka ruins falling onto adjacent structures, causing increased concern for the local authorities and an impetus to address the problem. In the early 2010s, plans by Skopje officials aimed to complete and renovate the building as part of the Skopje 2014 redevelopment project, turning it into Macedonia’s new Ministry of Finance. As part of this effort, the original facade of the old Jugobanka Tower was removed (of which few photos exist, sadly), and it was replaced with a Neo-Baroque style of facade that was in line with the Skopje 2014 architectural aesthetic. This construction effort, which was undertaken by the Austrian firm “LSG Building Solutions”, was completed in 2014, with roughly 15.5 million euros being spent on the project.

 

Children’s Resort, Vodno, North Macedonia

A view of the ruins of the Children's Resort at Vodno, North Macedonia. Credit: Boris Jurmovski

Name: Children’s Resort at Vodno (“Детското одморалиште на Водно”)

Location: Vodno, North Macedonia

Architect: [unknown]

Year started: early 1980s


The “Vodno” region of Skopje, North Macedonia is a mountainous green landscape that is very popular with people wanting to get fresh air and a respite from the urban life of the city below. It was within the slopes of this picturesque setting that regional authorities in the SR of Macedonia made the decision in the 1950s to create a “Children’s Resort”. As was true in other parts of Yugoslavia, the creation of dedicated youth “resorts” (“odmorališta”, akin to youth camps) was very popular in the republic, existing as sort of summer retreats for children from across the region to come together, recreate, play, learn and engage in Pioneer activities. Other such similar large-scale youth resort institutions were Camp “Nikoliḱ” at Lake Dorjan, Camp “Pelister” at Bitola, “Suvi Laki” and “Maleševo” at Berovo, and “Ǵurište” at Svetinikolsko. However, by the 1980s, the 1950s-era resort, which just consisted of two small buildings, was insufficient for its growing operations. As such, the decision was made at that point to construct a massive modern addition adjacent to the original compound. Unfortunately, little information is available at this 980s expansion project here at Vodno, not even the year work began or the architect who designed the facility. What is known is that work was suddenly halted on the project in 1982, most likely as a result of the financial crisis Yugoslavia was suffering under during this period.

An aerial view of the ruins of the Children's Resort at Vodno, North Macedonia. Credit: Filip Mihajlov
An interior view of the ruins of the Children's Resort at Vodno, North Macedonia. Credit: Boris Jurmovski

A huge amount of the complex was completed, including most of the building’s concrete infrastructure. Spreading out over somewhere between 10-20,000 sq meters in space, the resort facility is enormous, with its raw concrete soaring high above the slopes and peering out far into the distance. The forlorn unfinished complex (as well as the original 1950s-era camp buildings), have all sat empty and derelict for about 40 years now, with no hope in sight that it will ever be completed and/or utilized in any productive capacity. Officially owned by the country’s Ministry of Labor and Social Work, with many attempts having been made to privatize the structure and sell it off to investors but, as of yet, no commercial offers on the property have been made. The site is not guarded or under protection, being freely accessible to anyone who visits it. For more context about the Children’s Resort here at Vodno, HERE is a YouTube link to a short 1974 documentary about an earlier manifestation of the resort here at Vodno (before the creation of this unfinished concrete facility), showing the youth engaged in song, dance, music, sports and other such activities. Also, HERE is a link to another YouTube video showing an urban explorer walking through the ruins of the Vodna site.

 

Jošanička Banja, Serbia

A view of Hotel Jošanička Banja in Serbia.
A close up view of the Hotel Jošanička Banja in Serbia.

Name: Hotel Jošanička Banja

Location: Jošanička Banja, Serbia

Architect: [unknown]

Year started: 1973


Located just north of the Kopaonik Mountains is the historic spa resort community of Jošanička Banja. This small community has long been known for having some of the most impressive thermal waters in the region, as such, in 1973, the decision was made between the Municipality of Raška and the federal PIO Insurance Fund to construct a large modern resort complex at the center of the settlement. Initial construction was undertaken by the Raška firm “Brvenik”, however, after a few years and a half-completed job, work on the hotel resort was halted. It sat until 1986, when the development firm Geneks from Belgrade took an interest in the project as a means of using this hotel as supplemental accommodation for the Kopaonik ski resort. Work then proceeded to complete the unfinished hotel by the Belgrade construction group “Komgrap”. The form that the hotel took was that of a huge oversized A-frame structure, roughly 8 stories tall, with a facade of red brick punctuated by raw concrete balconies and rooflines. It was intended to have 200 beds along with, thermal swimming pools, saunas, congress halls and sports fields. However, by 1990, with the project nearly completed, work on the project was permanently stalled and interrupted by the dismantling of Yugoslavia. Thus, for the last +30 years, the towering abandoned hotel has been an eyesore for the small community and has operated as a topic of contention up to the present day. Officially owned still by the PIO fund, disagreements between the PIO, the National Health Insurance Administrations (a co-funder), and local authorities between the ownership and responsibility of the deteriorating structure. All efforts to privatize the hotel have fallen through and no willing buyers have yet to be found for the complex.

 

Comments


News, Articles & Events

bottom of page