Interviewed in Zagreb on 23 November 2011
Boris Magaš is one of the most important Croatian architects of the second half of the 20th century whose international, still insufficiently recognized contribution goes beyond the local community. His designs such as the Museum of Liberation in Sarajevo, the Solaris Hotel in Šibenik, the Mihaljevac Kindergarten in Zagreb, or the Poljud Stadium in Split are perhaps the best architectural symbols of their time in Croatia. All of these works are perfectly logical and innovative responses to the task, and thereat quite authentic. Moreover, these designs are precedents, models that opened new perspectives, and which rose from the vital, energetic personality of Magaš. This text is based on an extensive video interview that was presented in a summarized form at the exhibition titled Unfinished Modernisations.
ORIS — The immediate occasion for this interview, within the Unfinished Modernisations project, is your position as one of the leading architects in Croatia during the second half of the 20th century until the present day. I am interested in the relationship of your practice, but also your theoretical positions within the context of Croatian architectural scene and the wider social community. So we are talking about the determinants of your actions, but also the contours of the time within which you create. You studied architecture in the turbulent times after the World War II, but Croatia and former Yugoslavia, due to historical circumstances, quickly found their way.
Boris Magaš — At the time I enrolled in college in 1949, Zagreb, that is, Croatia, was under the impression of the events that followed the end of World War ii, the impression of the so-called Socialist Realism, but by the time I finished my studies in 1956, Croatia had already passed through that phase. The door was open after the Cominform and after the break with Stalin in 1948, and we had completely open possibilities for action. We lived in a world of Europe, following world events, living with them as much as possible. Architecture was developing in the context of the regime, but free from political elements.