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Dragiša Brašovan: Barcelona Expo’s other modernist

Valeria Carullo

Mies’ German Pavilion might have been the star of the 1929 Barcelona International Exposition but Dragiša Brašovan’s star-shaped Yugoslav Pavilion was strikingly avant garde too

Credit: RIBA Collections

The 1929 Barcelona International Exposition – the second World Fair to take place in the city –hosted twenty European nations, as well as private organizations from the United States and Japan. The main aim of the exposition was to highlight Barcelona’s technical progress in the early 20th century and promote modern Catalan industry. Of the national pavilions, the best known by far is the German Pavilion designed by Mies van der Rohe, which was, however, not the only representative of international avant-garde design. The Serbian, Croatian and Slovene Pavilion (later referred to as the Yugoslav Pavilion) was a strikingly original star-shaped structure, with elevations made from wooden strips arranged in horizontal black and white stripes. It was designed by Serbian architect Dragiša Brašovan, who had previously worked in the popular eclectic style. The pavilion in Barcelona marks his transition to modernism and was followed two years later by another national pavilion at the Milan Fair. Brašovan, who had studied architecture in Budapest, was to become one of the leading modernist architects in the Balkans and was elected an Honorary Corresponding Member of the RIBA in 1953.