Venice Biennale 2014: Montenegro to Present "Treasures in Disguise"

This year at the Venice Architecture Biennale, the Montenegro Pavilion will present four neglected, late-modernist buildings that were originally constructed as a testament to a radiant new society. An effort to spark discourse about urban regeneration in Montenegro and the future of the former Yugoslavia’s architecture, the exhibition seeks to illuminate the uncanny beauty of each structure as they are regarded to be Treasures in Disguise.

More from the curators and a preview of the highlighted buildings, after the break...

From the curators: When the four buildings on display first opened, they radiated their builders’ enthusiasm and confidence about the new society they were building. Today, only a few decades later, these buildings embody the complete opposite: poorly used (if at all) and maintained (if ever completed), they are a testament to the failure of modernism and the breakdown of Yugoslavia. Nobody seems to be able to recognize their value, hence their fate seems sealed: decay and demolition.

But how can something that was born out of a collective optimism lose its promise in such a short period of time? Is the demise of these buildings really due to an intrinsic lack of quality, or have we been unable to treat them with enough empathy to awaken a dormant potential that might be hidden underneath the patina of our own ideological disenchantment with modernism?

The curators of this pavilion believe it is the latter. These buildings represent a cultural resource that is too precious to destroy; if given a second chance, they will surprise us with their unique spatial, programmatic, and social potential. The aim of the exhibition is therefore to help the audience, through architectural representations of the interiors and exteriors of the four buildings, discover the uncanny beauty of structures that, while they look like ruins today, are nothing but treasures in disguise.

The Buildings: 

Dom Revolucije; Nikšić / Marko Mušić (1979-1989, unfinished)

Dom Revolucije. Image Courtesy of Marko Mušić’s Archive
Dom Revolucije. Image © Luka Bošković Photography

Hotel Fjord; Kotor / Zlatko Ugljen (1986)

Hotel Fjord. Image © Borisa Medenica Photography
Hotel Fjord. Image © Jovana Miljanic

Kayak Club "Galeb;" Podgorica / Vukota Tupa Vukotic

Kayak Club Galeb. Image © Luka Bošković Photography
Kayak Club Galeb. Image Courtesy of National Archive of Montenegro

Spomen Dom; Kolasin / Marko Mušić (1976)

Spomen Dom. Image Courtesy of Marko Mušić’s Archive
Spomen Dom. Image Courtesy of Marko Mušić’s Archive

Treasures in Disguise will be curated by Boštjan Vuga (SADAR+VUGA), Dijana Vučinić (DVARP), Simon Hartmann (HHF Archi- tects), Ilka & Andreas Ruby (Ruby Press), and Nebojša Adžić. More information about the exhibition can be found here.

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About this author
Cite: Karissa Rosenfield. "Venice Biennale 2014: Montenegro to Present "Treasures in Disguise" " 21 May 2014. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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