Genex Tower aka Western City Gate
When fans of brutalism name their top ten buildings the Genex Tower is most often on the list. It is simply majestic … maybe not a great word if you are contemplating the architectural impact of the USSR and Socialism…but it does sort of fit the narrative in terms of impact.
Completed in 1977 in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, this almighty symbol of the aspirations of the Eastern Bloc was, and remains, the epitome of everything brut fans crave, concrete and lots of it. Can there be any more potent statement of dominance in your sightline as you entered the city from the motorway?
The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was created after WW2 by Josep Tito and was intended to be the model for a new kind of communism. Home to more than 23 million people, living in six republics with a rotating presidency; Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.
Belgrade’s 1948 programme of rebuilding and reclamation of land led to the creation of New Belgrade (Novi Beograd) located on the opposite side of the river to the historic pre-WW2 centre of Old Belgrade. By the ’70s much of the infrastructure was in place with bridges, highways and residential bloks. Architect Mihajlo Mitrović could never imagine when he began building the Genex Tower in Novi Beograd that in less than 15 years the republic would be dismantled and all that would follow in the 1990s. The political landscape has changed but the Tower remains.
Comprising two inter-connected highrises, one 35 storeys and the other 26, the bridge is two storeys high. The Genex name has stuck regardless of the fact that they are no longer occupants (current February 2020). The business tower is unoccupied, the residential tower is fully operational.
You can see what the brutal architecture fans are on about – the building has endured. Governments come and go, businesses succeed and fail, tenants arrive and depart. A brutalist giant only disappears if developers lacking in imagination pull them down and replace them with glass palaces.