Portrait of Ludek Kubeš
I remember the wonderful ambiance of the Hotel Belevue from the times of my earliest childhood. This marvelously composed building with its surrounding lakes and vegetation, always left me with an impression as I was in the middle of the children’s book, in more particular as a part of its illustrations filled with princesses and princes, dragons and cavalry. The building itself looks like few buildings merged together. What makes this hotel particularly beautiful, especially if we compare it with the contemporary architecture in Skopje, is the way how it fits the surrounding nature. The solution for this is found in the mentioned fact that it doesn’t look as it is just one building and also because some of the walls are stone-bricked. Foremost, because this doesn’t look perfect. The design is focused on the essential functionality of the building rather than giving a posh look. Although it does look kind of expensive and hedonistic. Aside the main construction there are few bungalows, terrain for little golf, swimming pool and terrace with a restaurant. The inside of the dining hall – as I remember it from my childhood – was decorated with deer’s horns which at that time looked kind of unusual for the local designs. Much later I find out that this was a design from the Czech architect Ludek Kubeš who in the period after the WWII was invited to work in the then- Socialist Republic of Macedonia.
He also designed the first urban plan for the city of Skopje. From the talks of the older inhabitants of the capital and from the old postcards, I discovered that in deed then Skopje looked like a park city; which then impressed the foreign tourists, unlike now when they are all shocked by its pollution. I also found that the old plan of the city, with its oblique quarters with gardens within, gave Skopje taste of Western European elegance.
Other very interesting building is Hotel Vodno, which also has that magical allure. Inside there is a little fountain with a figure of sea lion. Exceptionally impressing are the usage of the natural lighting in the interior (almost all space is enlightened by the spacious windows since all building is tiny and horizontal) and the usage of the shadows on the facade (that are giving it accordion look). Very interesting is (are) the living compartment(s) in Skopje; the same design is realized 2 times on different locations. With its big sculptured balconies and stony-bricked walls this design gives somewhat Mediterranean atmosphere. I can find something similar of this only in the designs of the Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi. Other interesting design from this talented architect is the private house in Debar Maalo (city quarter in Skopje) – which is again partially stone-bricked. The windows are once more very spacey in this design, that also has that particular relaxed and intellectual charm.
Author of the text and photographer – Igor Pop Trajkov