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Special Surgery Hospital St. Naum Ohridski

Skopje, North Macedonia
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Archival Photo

The building of the District Social Insurance Office (today Special Surgery Hospital “Sv. Naum Ohridski”), designed by the Croatian architect Drago Ibler, occupies a prominent place in the history of Skopje's modern architecture. The building is located in the center of the city, in close proximity to another early-modern building from the interwar period - the Banate Administration (today Assembly of the Republic of North Macedonia). Together with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (designed by the Serbian architect Milan Zloković) it introduced the early-modern architecture in Skopje and the tendencies of the European avant-garde movements. Built in 1931/32, in time when the prominent public buildings in Skopje still bear classical and historical influences, the Social Insurance Office introduced novel architecture based on the principles of functionalism.

The main element of the spatial composition is a large rectangular block with a central atrium. On the ground floor the atrium is divided by a wide corridor that used to connect the two main entrances situated on the longer (east-west) facades. Originally, the western side of the building was designed to be oriented towards an open public square and communicate the surrounding through a recessed, fully glazed ground floor with a portico in the full length of the façade. This segment of the building is one floor higher than the rest, characterized by alteration of stripes of glazed and plastered surfaces.

Since its completion until today, the building was repurposed and adapted on several occasions, mainly to meet the needs and requirements of a healthcare program. With the first reuse in 1953-1962, numerous alterations and adjustments to the new function were carried out, some of them to the detriment of the original design (e.g., the glazed ground floor was closed, thus leaving the portico without its original function, remaining only as formal architectural element).

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vldmr, May 30th, 2023
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