In my opinion, Blok Pet (Blok 5) is one of the most fascinating districts of Podgorica. I like to walk around there and ask myself how could this neighborhood be restored and rehabilitated, painted and decorated, how could it be cleaned up and become a nice place for living again, as it was thirty years ago?
I still remember when the construction of this district started in the late 1970s – early 1980s. As a typical example of the town-planning policy in that period, it was constructed on the basis of the town-planning project of Vukota Tupa Vukotić and the architectural solution of Mileta Bojović, both famous architects and town planners. It consisted of eight residential buildings (photo 1) and five residential skyscrapers up to 16 floors high – the symbol of this neighborhood – and it disposed of wide streets and avenues, sufficient parking space, pedestrian zones, lots of playgrounds, one elementary school and two kindergartens, a policlinic, supermarkets, sports grounds and lots of greenery.
Just compare it to the present town-planning solutions in Podgorica! In the city center and also “Preko Morače”, new buildings have been erected in between old residential blocks, in the middle of green courtyards. Public parks and playgrounds have disappeared, trees were cut and parking lots reduced… just to make space for more and more apartments on a limited space. Is this right and appropriate, does this contribute to the protection of the human environment?
I don’t know the population numbers of Blok 5, but it is sure that the conditions of living in this neighborhood have seriously deteriorated over the last decades. Nobody seems to be responsible for the maintenance of residential buildings and green surfaces. The buildings have become derelict and colorless, the walls are covered with graffiti and the parks have become a meeting point for junks and yobs. What a pity!
But let’s hear the opinion of Paul Wennekes from the Netherlands, who has been living and working in Podgorica for the last four years: ‘People warned me that Podgorica would be a boring city that does not have anything to offer. A city without spirit, filled with concrete dwelling blocks. Of course, I liked the wide boulevards with huge trees and spacious sidewalks. And Njegoševa street with its cafes and terraces, and the green banks of the Morača river… But that was all, I thought… Until the moment I entered Blok Pet. That moment I discovered another world. A world of architecture that really touched me. Oh yes, I know that you will say that it is grey and dreary. That is true. But look at the playfulness of the buildings, the almost Gaudi-like quarter-circles that serve as balconies (photo 2). I was fascinated by the large protruding parts, here and there, from the side walls of the skyscrapers (photo 3). They reminded me of my first box of bricks I got for my fifth birthday. A playful way of building that fills your eyes with admiration – when you succeed in looking through the grey concrete mass – for the men who had the courage to design this district.
Blok Pet is a miracle in itself. Including the graffiti on the walls, they just belong to it (photo 4). The wide avenues (photo 5), the big trees and the buildings with green lawns which are – at several places – well-maintained, which means that some people really want to pay attention to their environment. The shops in the ground floors that guarantee social contacts among the people. Blok Pet is beautiful! But can it be better? Yes, Capital City of Podgorica, do something with these fascinating buildings! Make them colorful. Paint them! Blok Pet deserves it, as it is one of the most interesting districts of Podgorica!”
In other cities, Berlin for instance (photo 6), such and similar districts are rehabilitated and renovated. They are painted in various colors and covered with huge decorative murals. Another example is given by the Dutch artists Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn who create community art by painting entire neighborhoods, involving those who live there – from the favelas of Rio de Janeiro to the streets of North Philadelphia.
I am convinced that the rehabilitation of Blok Pet is a must for Podgorica. Blok Pet should be proclaimed and protected as a new cultural heritage of Montenegro. It would give a strong impetus to the image of Podgorica!