On women in architecture in Serbia, we certainly cannot talk without mentioning Ljiljana Bakic, an author who, individually and in cooperation with her husband Dragoljub Bakic, designed and built a large number of buildings in Belgrade and other cities in Serbia, as well as abroad. Today, the couple lives in their house in Visnjicka Banja, which they designed, and looks forward first and foremost to the successes of their grandchildren in USA and Poland.
Architecture and Decisions
She studied architecture in Belgrade from 1957 to 1962. Her first work experiences she got at Garden Architecture (1964-65). After returning from Kuwait in 1966, where Dragoljub worked for Energoprojekt and she for a local architectural firm Said Breik & Marwan Kalo Consulting Engineers, Ljiljana gave birth to two daughters. The pace of work at Energoprojekt was such that it required great sacrifice and long hours, even entire nights in the office. There were also often trips to the construction sites overseas. "I realized that our family life was impossible to organize if I were also absent from home with my architecture, you never know for how long. I decided to return to the profession once our daughters get old enough for kindergarten."
Ljiljana Bakic returned to architecture, working side by side with her husband in Energoprojekt - Architecture and Urbanism. Milica Steric hired me because she liked me. Otherwise, she was not fond of hiring women into Energoprojekt. Bakic (Dragoljub) worked on a competition and they were lacking help, so she invited me. She liked how I worked and gave me a job in Energoprojekt. For many years she was our beloved director. Ljiljana was employed at Energoprojekt from 1970 to 2001 and parallel collaborated with Dragoljub's office in Zimbabwe (1994-2001).
Architecture and Devotion
Ljiljana Bakic published significant articles in professional journals and is a member of Academy of Architects of Serbia. Her book The Anatomy of B&B Architecture is a comprehensive publication, which refers to hers and Dragoljub's fruitful careers. The book is a detailed review and analysis of all the elements that influenced their careers and their architecture. The social and economic conditions in the former Yugoslavia, tumuluous breakup of the country, but also personal experiences, contacts and travels - all influenced the architecture and the specific artistic expression of Ljiljana and Dragoljub Bakic.
The rich archive presented in this publication includes photographs and drawings of buildings, with detailed explanations of not only the concepts and ideas, but of all the aspects of the building realization, the problems and difficulties, as well as the successes experienced by designers. In addition, the book contains published professional papers and articles, personal and professional correspondence, family photographs, testimonies and memories of colleagues, teachers, mentors, clients. The architecture and experience of the couple Bakic was significantly marked by travels and work abroad, in Finland, in Kuwait, in Zimbabwe. Both in Serbia and overseas, they won numerous awards and honors. Although their best work was a result of their teamwork, the Serbian Association of Architects (SAS) decided to award the 1994 Grand Prix for Architecture only to Dragoljub, completely ignoring Ljiljana's work. Dragoljub refused the awards and just did not take it, which is something any normal person with character would do. This year was subsequently completed with both our names.
Architecture and Society
Today, Ljiljana is not actively designing, but she is still dealing with architecture and the city. Through her book, she reveals the possibilities of an idealistic approach to architecture, with the belief that the society can be changed with architecture. That's why today she is most concerned by the lack of vision and ideas, and the neglect of our built environment. In fact, my only issue today is how Belgrade is a terrible city, terribly neglected. It's unforgivable. That is something our architects are not dealing with at all. They only care about how to get a job somewhere, build something, but what the whole image of Belgrade looks like nobody cares - and that is a tragedy.
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