Architecture With An Attitude
Snežana Vesnić, founding partner of the architectural studio Neoarhitekti from Belgrade and an award-winning author, as part of the project by CAB: Women in architecture, speaks about her most important projects, the complexity of architecture, stereotypes and the importance of making the right decision in architecture.
On Important Projects
The building for company Textil from Užice was created following a large number of awarded and unbuilt competition entries. Still, today it seems to me that to design such a building would be even harder. It was the time right after many problematic years, in every sense and for all, so I think that the will to create something particular, big, was determining that period of mid twothousands. I don’t think there is anything especially feminine in this project. It was designed as a statement and I believe it shows as its integrity. All related to this building was designed without compromises and as such realized.
Figures 1. and 2. Building for company Textil in Užice, Serbia
On Approach to Architecture
For me, architecture is something in between two conditions, the condition before and the condition after architecture, when it comes to architects. It’s complicated to explain what happens and what is and for whom the beginning of something, when does the end begin and when does it really end and how, as well as what is and for whom interesting in the process. I would mention talent and intuition. Talent is related to conceptualization, and intuition to the concept. The rest is character.
Things are not universal. Ideas are universal, even ideas about architecture, and everyone should decide for themselves what, how and why.
Figure 3. Competition entry for blocks 25 and 26, New Belgrade
On The Female Principle
It is possible to define everything as a position from which certain things are observed and certain decisions are made. If it’s about a principle, then it’s not important who demonstrates that priniciple. I think architecture itself does not differentiate a male and female priniciple, and that everything else is a stereotype of appearance and can be regarded as a question of sensibility or methodology. However, I think in this regard the final product is much more determined by circumstances and the manner in which you place yourself in relation to context.
When I take a look back to the situations I found myself in, I don’t think anything was a result of being a woman, but I do think that was the result of my attitude and relationship to architecture. Generally, architecture is not a feminine profession and I don’t expect a demonstration of a female principle, so in that sense I don’t think it necessary to point out any differences. It is what it is and if it wasn’t so it would not be architecture but something else. In architectural education, maybe there is room for such differentiations: women are forgiven their approach to form, and men are forgiven their (in)completness. The concept remains as a question of decision.
Figure 4. Archeological Heritage Park, Mnajar Qim, Malta
On Career Traps
All traps are to be avoided. Since this is impossible, they should be translated into something else and make a quality out of such situations. Most often traps translate into problems, but the problem of problems should be looked at as potential. They are results of circumstances, and it’s up to the architect to use it all in favor of architecture. I’m not sure there are traps for architecture, and if they don’t exist for architecture they don’t exist for architects. There are opportunities and there is an individual relation to a certain situation, which brings us back to the issue of decision-making.
Among a number of important authors, who have had a strong influence on me, I would mention Le Corbuiser and Jean Nouvel. And excellent architects are Lina Bo Bardi, Eileen Gray, Ivanka Raspopović, Kazuyo Sejima, Manuelle Gautrand.
Figure 5. Competition entry for the Nation Museum in Belgrade
On Women in Architecture
To the question of what is the reason that the number of known female authors is not larger, there are two possible ways to answer: mythological and existential. I mean – the division of roles in architecture or in life. The architectural profession covers a wide field, and so I believe the architectural education to be wide and disperse. I am more interested in what is in the competence of the architectural profession and what could create an ambience in which “real” architecture could appear. The question of authorship in architecture, like in other professions or arts, is much more a question of authenticity.
Snežana Vesnić, architect, PhD candidate, works as a designer at Neoarhitekti and in construction with Terra Engineering. Her field of research covers the studies of the theory of form, intuition and supersymmetry, and her projects can be described as poetic brutalism od new modernity. She is the co-author of the building for Textil Užice and a laureate of a large number of awards and honors, such as the oldest architecture award in Serbia (by Novosti company), that she received in 2008.