In-between the East and the West
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The Second World War and its aftermath displayed significant changes in the patterns of urban development in Skopje, the capital of Macedonia, which occurred in parallel to the processes of political and societal restructuring. The formation of the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia in 1945, of which Macedonia was one of the six republics constituting it, resulted in an instilment of socialist ideals on a national level and rapid industrialization.
The transformations of the city intensified after 1963 when a destructive earthquake struck the city, claiming more than 1,000 lives and ravaging about 85% of its buildings. The recovery of the city was an unprecedented action of international solidarity and co-operation in which national and international parties offered aid for the city in need.
The radical transformations of the city’s built tissue that occurred after the earthquake were possible in part because of the particular position of Yugoslavia in the post-war era; in 1961 Yugoslavia became one of the six founding members of the Non-Aligned Movement following previous expulsion from the Communist Information Bureau. The Non-Aligned Movement advocated for a middle course between the Western and the Eastern blocs, effectively placing Yugoslavia in a unique position between the blocks and enabling the country to attract support from all sides. As a result, help for Skopje came from different corners of the globe and thanks to this immense display of international aid, Skopje was recovering quickly.
In the ‘non-aligned’ territory of the city, designers from both East and West were invited to project their urban visions for the devastated city. This paper will look at the urban restructuring of Skopje in the period between 1945 and 1965, focusing on the disciplines of architecture and urban planning in the formation of the modern city.