Vinaver square in Šabac

Urban design: Milena Zindović

Tower facade remodeling: Milena Zindović and Katarina Dubljanin

Realization: October 2019 – February 2020

The first step in creating Vinaver square in Šabac was introducing changes to the street matrix at the intersection of streets Karađorđeva, Pop Lukina and Kajmakčalanska. In the place of a undefined triangular intersection, by diverting the traffic from Pop Lukina street into Kajmakčalanska, it was possible to create a pedestrian plaza at the end of the Karađorđeva street, an important pedestrian axis in the city center. The existing plaza in front of the housing tower kept its existing form, as well as the function of tenants parking.

Considering the City of Šabac has decided to dedicate this space to its famous citizen, writer Stanislav Vinaver, the new plaza is designed to represent the physical and spatial manifestation of his text Lightning Rod of the Universe from 1921.

In this text, Vinaver describes a layered world that exists on some far away star in the Universe. He speaks of three layers: the first layer is green earth, with flowers, trees and green lakes. On this earth there are electrical stations, with black boards on which red numbers are written. The numbers are illuminated with red light and represent variable relations of things happening on the upper two layers. The first upper layer is a surface on which houses and people slide. It turns, and sometimes, when it stops, people and houses are swept by strong streams. The second upper surface is ephemeral, consisting of lights, scents and music.

Plan of Vinaver’s square

This vivid description of a layered world inspired the design of the square dedicated to the expressionist writer. The hearth of the plaza is not paved, but laid with thick grass. The pavement is made of printed concrete with exaggerated joints to create an effect of tiles around and in the greenery, and emphasizing the impression of layering – it feels that it is almost possible to lift one of the tiles to reveal the grass underneath .

The urban furniture design is also inspired by Vinaver’s writing, with benches from dark sheet metal with numbers. Some benches were specifically designed to allow inclusion of wheelchair users. The design of the new water fountain is also based on wheelchair accessibility.

15 new trees have been planted at the plaza – their crowns will become part of the third, ephemeral layer of the space, together with lighting elements and sculptural frames. The structure of connecting red frames is the expressionist element of the square design. Its optimistic color and irregular shapes bring the unexpected and dynamic into the public realm, in the spirit of Vinaver’s expressionism.

The lower beams of the frames are benches, while the columns and beams can be used to create various artistic installations or as frames for greenery. The ambiguity of the structure gives new meaning to the public space – “to bring new dynamic, new explanations, new rhythm and new flow, into the old reality” was the aim of expressionism as defined by Vinaver.

Vinaver’s Lightning rod of the Universe is a symbol of human attempts of communication beyond time, especially during crisis and change. On Vinaver’s square, the existing housing tower was used as a manifestation of this Lighting rod, whose facade has been remodeled in collaboration with arch. Katarina Dubljanin. In this reconstruction the geometry is also used to bring expressionist dynamic to the space, since the perception of the new facade constantly changes with movement.

The new face of the housing tower and the geometry of the plaza structure correspond with each other in a visual and symbolic unity, connecting the horizontal and vertical faces of the public space and creating the physical manifestation of the Lightning rod of the Universe.

All elements of urban design of Vinaver’s square are ambiguous, containing a symbolic meaning in addition to their basic function, and turning the entire square in to a monument to the life and work of the famous writter. Vinaver’s square is a new, inclusive public space for city life, and in the same time an hommage to his modernity and freedom of expression. The whole space combines symbolism and expressionism of his work with contemporary urban design. In this manner, Stanislav Vinaver is remembered in Šabac through a deserving space – a space of gathering, lingering, thinking; a space of modernity, filled with symbols and dynamics, slightly imbalanced and with a dose of humor.

Photography: Djordje Djerić

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