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Danilo S. Furundžić, Ph.D. Arch.

Investments Must Be Visionary

Future city development must ensure human wellbeing and social prosperity

As an assistant professor at the University of Belgrade’s Faculty of Architecture and chairman of the Management board of the Institute of Architecture and Urban & Spatial Planning of Serbia, Danilo S. Furundžić designs future cities in Serbia, and as a CEO of the Public Company for Utility and Infrastructure Services of Kikinda manages daily problems of it’s citizen’s.

“Through new development and reconstruction, one can improve the physical space. By increasing the standard of living, manifested through the “vibrancy” of public spaces, one can improve the social fabric of the city. But without spiritual values, our society materializes only desolate built forms, because it can produce space only according to its own soulless nature.” says Mr. Furundžić.

As an architect, is your dominant “trait” artistic or based on engineering?

– Within each of us live homo faber and homo ludens. As a rule, these two forms of man are not mutually exclusive, but rather complementary. I played the violin and attended the Mathematical Grammer School, studied “artistically” at the Faculty of Architecture, then “engineeringly” at the École Centrale in Paris, designed with architect Jean-Marie Charpentier and led investments at the Euro Gulf Group. In my opinion one can never decide.

What is the biggest problem facing urban planning in Belgrade?

– Informed on contemporary trends and best practises from the West, domestic urban planning succeeds in comprehensively overviewing the potential of urbanisation that lies ahead of us, but is unable to control Belgrade’s rapid transformation on the ground. There is no existing assessment practise of calculating financial gains or losses of urban planning implementation. Some approved urban plans are not in accordance with real-estate market demands. As decisions are based more on the assumption of successful implementation than on precise argumentation, urban planes exist in paper, but are not implemented in practice.

The challenge of managing infrastructure is reflected in the wellbeing of citizens

What drives planners and architects today? Is it to make more money for the investor, or to leave a legacy of admirable buildings and spaces?

– Development is not the one and only requirement of our profession. Richard Rogers’ statement – “A tree doesn’t make money, and shall never be planted” is surpassed. Yes, a tree does not bring money, but space surrounded with trees is worth more. According to Henry Lefebvre, a French philosopher and sociologist, a city is complete when its physical, social and spiritual space is complete.

Through new development and reconstruction, one can improve the physical space. By increasing the standard of living, manifested through the “vibrancy” of public spaces, one can improve the social fabric of the city. But without spiritual values, our society materializes only desolate built forms, because it can produce space only according to its own soulless nature. Market value is an obligation of our vocation, but the challenge facing our profession is to produce space that ensures human prosperity.

What are the challenges in managing utility infrastructure in Serbia?

– In Serbia it is necessary to introduce corporate management to the public utility sector, rationalize organisation, reduce work costs, increase efficiency and raise the quality of customer services provided to the citizens. A valuable resource, such as infrastructure, must be used efficiently. One should enable continuous utility operation, secure resources for investments that must be implemented without delays and system disruptions.

The challenge of managing infrastructure is reflected in the wellbeing of citizens. Infrastructure is a commitment of modern society. When created it ensures and defines future city development. This is why all investments must be visionary. We must not fear tackling technology and going one step further. I’m convinced that my son Đorđe will be suspicious when I tell him we used to drive cars ourselves, just as my students today do not believe that time without Internet existed. 

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