Real Estate EN Volume 19

Page 1


NO 19 | NOV / DEC 2022.

Real Estate magazine covers all current real estate subjects as well as modern lifestyle topics such as architecture, design, fashion, art, travel, gastronomy, and prestigious fresh new releases. The magazine was established in 2016 and is published on a bimonthly basis.


Vladimir Popović vladimir.popovic@realestate-magazine .rs

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Gordana Knežević Monašević




ART DIRECTOR Ilija Petrović IndigoChild


Jovana Nikolić Petra Vasiljević Petar Dobrosavljević Ana Kralj


Tamara Djokić TRANSLATOR Jasmina Djekić Lazar Petković +381 11 4320 501


Zlatna Knjiga Jagodina Bagrdanski put bb, Jagodina


West Media World Baba Višnjina 38 Vračar, Belgrade

It’s true that we haven’t reached the end of this year yet, but for us at Real Estate magazine, the new, energy-efficient year began practically at the same moment as the global energy crisis. There is no longer time to debate whether to build energy-efficient buildings or renovate existing structures in an energy-efficient manner. The time for action is now. Extremely aware of the responsibility we have as a media company that covers the real estate industry, our publisher, West Media World, is kicking off this year with the first REMHUB conference, dedicated to energy efficiency in real estate. On November 30, we’ll find out what the experts have to say about how much more energy efficient we can be in the coming year and how much energy we can save by using smart facility management and changing our “wasteful” attitude toward consumption. A detailed report will be immediately available on the portal of our magazine, but, more importantly, Real Estate magazine will continue to regularly monitor how much the construction industry is really transforming in practice and influence as much as possible the greater synergy of the public and private sectors in order to improve energy efficiency.

Considering the topic with which we close the year 2022 and which will definitely mark the next year as well, energy efficiency is the leitmotif of the last issue of this year of our magazine. Smart home ABB systems, Lafarge green concrete, solar panels, and solar power plants that MT-Komex installs on households and industrial facilities throughout Serbia, and the USAID Better Energy Project that supports local energy efficiency improvement projects, are exceptional examples of good practice on


the way to the energy transition that has already begun to take place now and here. We had the great honor of speaking with His Excellency Urs Schmid, Ambassador of Switzerland to Serbia, who gave us a warm welcome in his residence and detailed how the Swiss construction fund was able to reduce annual energy consumption by 2.8 billion kWh and annual CO2 emissions by 750,000 tons by utilizing the “Buildings Programme” of the Federal Government and the Cantons.

Speaking of energy, there is a special category called “female energy,” which, as statistics show, is becoming increasingly dominant in the real estate industry. We are very pleased to start a series of articles with this issue on the topic of women leaders in the construction and real estate sectors, which are traditionally considered male-dominated fields. Our interlocutors denied all prejudices on this topic, and their results showed that the female factor in business is at an advantage due to the ability to multitask, but also that female leaders put human relations and care for employees and their families first.

We have saved the prettiest and sweetest for last: novelties from the Belgrade Furniture Fair, beautiful contemporary solutions in landscaping and industrial design, and ideas for modern office design.

While the Harrods department store in London shines with Dior Christmas magic in all of its windows, the editors of Real Estate magazine wish you a happy new energy -efficient year 2023!


Publisher is not responsible for the content of published advertisments. CIP - Каталогизација у публикацији Народна библиотека Србије, Београд 659 REAL Estate magazine : real estate, design and lifestyle / editor-in-chief Gordana Knežević Monašević. - [English ed.].2021, no. 15- . - Belgrade : West Media World, 2016- (Jagodina : Zlatna knjiga). - 28 cm Tromesečno. - Preuzima numeraciju srpskog izd.Ima izdanje na drugom jeziku: Real Estate magazin (Srpsko izd.) = ISSN 2466-4170 ISSN 2812-7293 = Real Estate magazine (English ed.) COBISS.SR-ID 53491721


t an exclusive location in New Belgrade, at an optimal distance from a number of major city landmarks and the most relevant traffic routes, the residential complex Airport Garden is under construction. Architecturally impressive, aesthetically attractive, and functionally superior, this top-quality residential complex is an opportunity for a safe investment and a comfortable life that meets the highest housing standards.

The building will have a ventilated facade with prestigious wall coverings and dark-toned aluminum carpentry with top-quality profiles, glasses, and equipment. For maximum sound insulation, all partition walls will be made of blocks. Interior materials will be of the best quality and have a neutral aesthetic. The complex will have autonomous heating and cooling 24/7, regardless of the heating season. Without radiators or air conditioning units, in-wall climatization provides superior noiseless comfort in a uniformly climate-controlled space while also maximizing useful square footage. Every type of apartment and commercial area will feature a highly functional distribution of space designed for furnishing. A children’s park and pet care facilities are planned for the exterior. Professional facility management will take care of the building.

Modern and comfortable, Aiport Garden is designed in timeless, sophisticated formats of contemporary design, with the use of equipment, details, and materials that make everyday living spaces comfortable, warm, lifelike, and functional—from apartments to all common areas, entrance halls with reception desks, hallways, and the exterior of the complex itself.

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The newly opened GTC X office building, a new landmark of the Serbian silicon valley, once again demonstrated that top quality and principles of sustainable development have been the basic postulates of the GTC mission in Serbia for almost two decades

Text and photos: GTC SRBIJA

GTC Group, one of the leading investors in commercial real estate in Central, Eastern, and Southern Europe, which has been present in Serbia for nearly 20 years and where it has built up to now 140,000 m2 of premium-class office buildings and 35,000 m2 of commercial space, has opened its brand new business building, GTC X, which will forever raise the standards of business construction.

GTC X brings to the market 17,700 m2 of first-class office space in Block 41 in New Belgrade, Milutin Milanković Boulevard. Like all previous GTC Group projects, GTC X was designed and built in accordance with the green standards of the LEED Gold certificate, which guarantees maximum energy efficiency and state-of-the-art technology.

The opening of the building and the beginning of a new historical chapter in Serbia were attended by GTC management: Zoltan Fekete, Chairman of the GTC Board of Directors, Janos Gardai, Chief Operating

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Photo: Dušan Stojančević

Officer, and Ziv Gigi, Executive Director for Southeast Europe.

The Chairman of the GTC Board of Directors, Zoltan Fekete, shared his sincere satisfaction at the opening of the impressive GTC X building: “GTC X is not only an exceptional building, but also a major milestone in the history of our company and a loud and clear demonstration of our commitment to the Serbian market.”

He pointed out that GTC X is not only a special feature that defines an entire neighborhood in the great Serbian capital but also a true representation of GTC’s mission to create exceptional value for its clients based on the principles of sustainable development.

“We are concerned about the environmental impact of our construction and are upgrading our buildings with energy and water saving solutions. We do all of this to create buildings that encourage interaction and collaboration that make our tenants even more successful and productive,” concluded Fekete.

GTC Group has been at the top of the commercial real estate sector in Central and Southeastern Europe since 1994. GTC has developed 76 projects, premium-class office buildings, and retail facilities with a total area of over 1,400,000 m2.

The opening of GTC X was also attended by the Secretary of the Trade Association of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Žarko Malinović, who addressed the audien-

ce, as well as representatives of numerous state institutions and ministries.

GTC has carried out numerous projects in Serbia over the past 20 years, and its facilities have become a symbol of Belgrade’s Silicon Valley.

The most successful Serbian and international companies have already found a place within GTC X. They recognized GTC as a reliable partner for the growth and development of their businesses and new ideas, such as one of the most successful Serbian IT companies, HTEC Group, and Tenderly, an international consulting company, Mazars, the world’s digital expert, Webhelp, as well as the restaurant Take a Break.

The company GTC recently donated 100 young tree seedlings to the city of Belgrade, which were planted on the left bank of the Sava, in honor of the opening of the new commercial complex GTC X.

Ziv Gigi, Zoltan Fekete, Žarko Malinović and Janoš Gardai GTC X brings to the market 17,700 m2 of first-class office space Chairman of the GTC Board of Directors, Zoltan Fekete


The reconstruction of the Sava Center, which began in December last year, will be completed on time, in November 2023, Delta Real Estate confirmed. Due to the unfavorable situation on the market and the energy crisis, the projected budget of 80 million euros was significantly exceeded, so the total investment will amount to more than 100 million euros. However, the unplanned circumstances will not affect the deadlines or the quality of the work. The reconstruction project of the Sava Center is currently the most important project of Delta Holding, and an additional incentive to do the job in the best way is the fact that the building is protected as a cultural monument, says Angelina Nekić, CEO of Delta Real Estate.

The renovated Sava Center will have a unified offer of a congress, business, cultural, entertainment, and shopping center under one roof. The congress area will occupy 50,000 m2, the business space will be 24,000 m2, and the shopping area will occupy 10,000 m2. About 50 percent of the office space has already been leased, and the largest tenant is Telekom Srbija with its partner TV stations.

The congress area will be adapted so that fairs can be held there; there will be more than 40 meeting rooms, while the new space between the two parts of the Sava Center will be a multifunctional atrium. The Blue Hall, the trademark of the Sava Center, with 3,672 seats, will be the largest plenary hall in the region.

In accordance with sustainability standards, the renovated Sava Center will include solar panels on the roof, an energy-efficient facade, LED lighting, and different recycling programs.

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The congress area hall on the first floor A footpath towards hotel Office space for rent The Blue Hall



30. november 2022. – Hyatt Regency Beograd – Studio 2

In the wake of the energy crisis, which calls us all to be responsible for the use of energy and to strategically change our attitude towards the energy issue, the REMHUB 2022 conference is an opportunity to learn which innovative energy efficiency solutions you can apply in the construction of new and reconstruction of existing buildings, but also how smart strategy and advanced Facility Management (FM) can contribute to system optimization and greater energy savings.

The conference is for everyone who understands the responsibility of the present moment and the obligation to make energy efficiency a standard in the construction industry and the management of commercial, industrial, and residential facilities

The organizer of the conference is the media company West Media World, with the institutional support of the Ministry of mining and energy, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia and the Green Building Council of Serbia, and the media sponsor is Real Estate Magazine.



Changing Landscapes

Sprawling over 50 hectares, this mixed-use development is planned to have over 100,000 m2 of IT Park (IT Park, Indjija, Serbia), Retail areas, High-end residential developments, sports and fitness, education, and hospitality facilities.

Strategically located only 25 minutes (45 km) from Belgrade and 20 minutes (27 km) from Novi sad, ETZ is at the crossroads of Western and Eastern Europe, on Pan-European Corridors 7 (river Danube) and 10 (it is adjacent to the E-75 highway and 23 km away from E-70 highway).


The IT Park in Indjija is the first of its kind in the region and Embassy Group has already completed the construction of a 10,000 m2 building ready for tenant occupancy. The concept is to provide a ”Flexible, Capable, and Diverse“ workspace to cater to all companies’ needs through flexible room sizes, multi-level fit-out options, and professional facility and property management services which allow for synergies between different businesses, R&D, and educational centers.

The IT Park in Indjija is Serbia’s only LEED Gold Certified-Property as are all of Embassy’s ongoing and future projects showing its commitment to creating sustainable developments.

+381 60 0815 715 · ·


CBS International has launched CBS Home, an innovative business segment aimed at providing “tailored service” to every customer on the housing market. This platform provides insight into the largest database of different apartments, from traditional and refined pre-war apartments to modern and luxurious residential complexes, as well as the option to recommend to all its customers the services of lawyers and notaries who will help make the process of buying property as easy as possible.

After you have chosen one of the apartments to buy, special exclusivity is represented by Premium Services, behind which stands a team of experts that has been formed so that the process of getting to the desired apartment will be stress-free. The premium segment of CBS Home includes the services of a credit advisor, who will find the best interest rates for you and

present you with a method of financing real estate that fully fits your budget.

CBS Home experts are at the service of customers until the very end of the property buying process and even after, when the interior design and furnishing of the apartment begin. Architects’ services will assist you in organizing the interior of your living space, while CBS Home’s exclusive partners provided benefits and discounts for the purchase of furniture, home appliances, lighting, and other home details in facilities reserved exclusively for CBS Home platform users.

The founder of CBS Home, the leading real estate consultancy CBS International, with 15 years of experience in this segment, more than 40 exclusive representation projects, and as many as 10,000 residential units sold, is the best evidence that you leave your important life decisions to the best professionals

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The presentation of CBS Home platform Photo: CBS Home


West Media World is the only publishing house in Serbia and the region that offers full media support to all real estate and associated industry professionals. Through our regular and special editions, we keep up with all the latest news and trends in the real estate business around the world and in our country. We share information from the real estate market and connect all companies and institutions from Serbia and the region involved in this massive business chain: investors, construction companies, architects, designers, furniture manufacturers, manufacturers and importers of construction materials, interior furnishing companies, banks and insurance companies, competent state institutions, brokerage and consulting companies, appraisers, real estate agencies, and business associations, all the way to the end user – buyer or tenant. If you want to learn about the latest news in the real estate market, network with new business partners, share common problems and visions, improve your business, or better advertise your products and services, join our large REAL ESTATE network. Follow us on our portal and social media profiles, subscribe to our print edition, write to us or call us.
Regular REAL ESTATE magazine’s print edition, published bimonthly in both Serbian and English • REAL ESTATE magazine’s digital media platform, which includes a bilingual portal in Serbian and English, as well as official profiles on social media (Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn) • REAL ESTATE magazine’s special, themed print editions • Newsletter promotions through our large client base • Organization of round tables, panels, and conferences WEST MEDIA WORLD +381 11 32 43 274 REAL ESTATE, DESIGN & LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE


Construction activity in the retail sector in Serbia was quite intense throughout the year, which resulted in the opening of new facilities and the expansion of existing ones. The biggest project, the first phase of the AVA Shopping Park in Bubanj Potok, next to the IKEA department store, was completed in May. The sales space covers 19,000 m2, and the investment is worth more than 55 million euros. The second phase of the project is underway and will provide an additional 10,000 m2 of retail space. The second part of Ava Park is expected to open in the spring. In March, the 10th BIG shopping center in Serbia, which is being built between Stara and Nova Pazova, is expected to open. BIG Pazova is located on a plot of 5.7 hectares, while the sales area covers 18,300 m2. The investor BIG CEE has announced the expansion of almost all of its existing facilities, which will increase the sales area by 25,000 m2 in 2023. The company intends to construct new centers and parks in cities throughout Serbia, including Čačak, Loznica, and Arandjelovac.

Belgrade will also get new square meters of sales space. The plan is to build a new Chinese shopping center in New Belgrade, which will have 22,000 m2 in the first phase and an additional 8,000 m2 in the second. Eurasia Trade Center, a Chinese company, is the new shopping center’s investor. The expansion of the BEO Shopping Center was also announced, while the reconstruction of two Belgrade shopping centers—SC Ušće and SC Zira—is underway.

The German grocery chain Lidl continued this year to expand its network of stores in Serbia. In September, a new store was opened in the central city area of Belgrade, with an area of 1,400 m2, which is classified as a green building since it is supplied with energy exclusively from RES. This is the 19th Lidl store in the Belgrade area, and three more have been opened in the meantime: in Subotica, Prokuplje and Negotin.

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BEO Shopping Center will get additional sqm of sales space BIG Fashion Outlet Indjija will be expanded New Lidl store in Belgrade AVA Shopping Park Reconstruction of TC Zira is underway Photo: Photo: Photo: BIG CEE Photo: MPC Properties Photo: Verano Group


Whether you want to save money for a short-term or long-term goal, saving motivates you and offers you assurance that you will achieve your goals. For those who are not sure what step they should take first in order to save and increase money for important plans in the future, OTP Banka offers answers and solutions

for term savings. You can get an offer tailored to your needs by contacting the bank directly, visiting the nearest branch, calling by phone, or filling out the form on the bank’s website. Term savings imply that you will keep the money in the account for an agreed-upon period of time, after which the bank will pay you the agreed-upon interest.


Increasing savings can provide additional security for important life decisions or new situations. Buying an apartment, a car, home appliances, renovations, school fees, travel, carefree days in retirement... The reasons for saving money are different, but they are connected by the desire for security, peace of mind, and happiness. When you know what you’re saving for, OTP Banka is there because it supports good ideas.

In order to realize your future plans in the desired time frame, it is important to adapt your money storage to your needs. Skillful financial management is not easy, but it is useful. You can get excellent advice from the bankers at OTP Banka, which offers favorable terms

If you need advice or a specific offer, you can leave your data on the OTP Banka website, visit one of the branches, or talk to an operator. You can reach the contact center by calling 0800 23 23 22 on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Calls are free to fixed and mobile networks in Serbia More information is available on the OTP Banka website at

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Text and photo: OTP BANKA

The modern eco-project Solarna Dolina is a unique residential oasis located in an exclusive location – on the slopes of Fruška Gora, surrounded by lush greenery, just five minutes’ drive from the Novi Sad center. The complex includes 100 residential units, ranging in size from 96 m2 to 205 m2, with terraces, private, fenced yards, and parking spaces. Green space makes up 50% of the total area of the settlement, with parks, a network of pedestrian and bicycle paths, gyms, and other outdoor activities. This is Novi Sad’s first condominium with houses, with a very low population density, making it extremely comfortable. It offers its residents all the benefits of a healthy urban life, from top-class equipment, energy efficiency, and smart home systems to a maximum sense of freedom in harmony with nature, regaining your energy balance.


His Excellency URS SCHMID


Switzerland’s cooperation with Serbia started in 1991 with humanitarian aid and eventually evolved to the highest level in all segments of our bilateral relations. We talked with Urs Schmid, the ambassador of the Swiss Confederation in Serbia, about Swiss investments, assistance, and sustainability lessons, as well as the beauties of Serbia and Belgrade. Exclusively for this occasion, His Excellency opened the doors of his residence to us

Speaking of Switzerland and its presence in Serbia, there is almost no sector of cooperation in which exceptional results have not been achieved. Switzerland is one of the largest foreign investors in Serbia, with almost two billion net investments in the last 12 years, and one of the most significant bilateral donors, with more than 400 million euros in official development assistance so far. Considering the extremely extensive cooperation in all segments and the long list of official visits and bilateral meetings he has every day, there is no doubt that His Excellency Urs Schmid is one of the busiest ambassadors in Belgrade, although you will not notice a trace of haste or stress on him. Right away, at the reception at the residence, he disarmed us with his gentlemanly manners and, above all, his hospitality. The welcome late breakfast, served on the terrace of the residence with a fantastic view of the lush garden in yellow and red autumn tones, was an unexpected bonus with a double diplomatic effect. Not only did we discover why “raclette”—hot, melted raclette cheese served with boiled potatoes, gherkins, and pickled onions—is a favorite Swiss national dish, but we realized that it is really easier to talk with “raclette,” even on the most serious topics.

Urs Schmid is an experienced diplomat, and it is really a pleasure to talk to him. The beautiful exterior and interior of the residence—which was completely renovated in 2016 and whose functional, modern,

and classy design is also due to our architectural studio,—only enriched our conversation and served as an inspiring introduction. Guests are happy to come here for dinners and events, and the ambassador admits that he is privileged to have lived in this villa for two years, discreetly tucked away on one of the slopes of Senjak, whose garden leaves you breathless when you step inside it.

The Residence in Senjak has been hosting a number of artistic and cultural events in recent years, and we are aware that visitors enjoy coming here. How did you feel about your new home when you first moved in? Did you make any interior changes to suit your preferences and needs?

— It is true that the Ambassador of Switzerland in Serbia is lucky to have at his or her disposal a beautiful residence in Senjak since 1963. Owned by the Swiss government, it was completely renovated in 2016, and it allows me to host many different types of events. I usually receive positive feedback from our guests, especially when we can use the lush garden. One of my predecessors, who was posted in Belgrade during the 1990s, mainly designed the garden as it is today.

After an interruption of two years due to the COVID pandemic, I was able to organize this year again our traditional National Day celebration on August 1. As many as 400 guests enjoyed our outdoor party and tasted the typical Swiss “raclette” prepared


under the huge pine tree. Furthermore, the interior of the residence, with its combination of functionality and elegance, allows for the successful accomplishment of all representational tasks of a diplomatic mission. In this sense, there was no need for me to undertake any major adaptations when I arrived in Belgrade.

Will you carry on your predecessors’ tradition by planning fresh cultural activities at the residence? You once declared that the new Culture for Democracy program will increase Switzerland’s support for Serbian culture and the arts to a greater extent...

— With our Culture for Democracy project, launched in 2021, we have indeed shifted our approach to provide more comprehensive support to the cultural scene in Serbia. With this intervention, worth one million euros over the period until 2025, the aim is to foster a social space where pluralistic and democratic values, intercultural dialogue, and tolerance are promoted. We focus on supporting independent cultural actors outside of Belgrade since the culture scene in the capital city is already very rich. The project is implemented by our partner Heartefact Foundation and has so far supported 19 projects amounting to EUR 232,000.

The Embassy also continues to support the organization of cultural events, either at the residence or in other locations, with a special emphasis on presenting the work of younger artists. It remains our key

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The small salon stands out for its comfort and functional elegance The piano in the salon is always ready for cultural events organized in the residence

The vibrant details fit perfectly into the minimalist interior design

objective to foster links between Swiss and Serbian culture, which is quite natural when you think of the large Serbian diaspora in Switzerland and the many dual nationals residing in Serbia and Switzerland.

The importance of Swiss assistance to Serbia extends far beyond just cultural matters. You just recently unveiled a brand-new, 90 million-euro, four-year program of cooperation with Serbia. What is included in it?

— Switzerland’s cooperation with Serbia started in 1991, more than 30 years ago, with humanitarian


The dining table is always perfectly set for guests at official dinners

aid and assistance to migration management. Over time, this support has evolved into a comprehensive cooperation program. Switzerland is ranked among the most important bilateral donors in Serbia, having spent more than EUR 400 million in official development assistance so far. This continuous and substantial presence has left many footprints, which form the basis for our current Cooperation Programme 2022-2025.

Well known for being a highly decentralized country, Switzerland traditionally focuses on the local level, working with municipalities on improving services and participatory practices. Private sector development and employment is another traditional field of Swiss engagement. During the next four years, our support to assist Serbia in turning dual vocational education and training into a success story will be significantly intensified. In addition, local SMEs will be assisted to better participate in the value chains of larger foreign direct investments. Last but not least, engaging in the fight against climate change has become a top priority. In line with the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans, Switzerland will comple -


ment its current portfolio in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable urban planning with more comprehensive climate mitigation and adaptation measures.

A portion of this program will be directed at improving energy efficiency, which has long been one of the standards in the Swiss real estate industry. How far has Switzerland’s adoption of green building practices come?

— In Switzerland, buildings are responsible for 44% of energy consumption and about one-third of emissions. Despite the efforts made in recent years, the need for renovation remains high. A majority of buildings are still heated with fossil fuels or direct electricity, and many buildings have insufficient insulation. Renovation can have a considerable impact: depending on the building, better insulation can reduce the heat requirement by more than half. Moreover, switching from fossil fuel heating to renewable energy sources can reduce CO2 emissions to almost zero. Switzerland’s new energy strategy (“Energy Strategy 2050”) aims to reduce the energy consumption of Swiss buildings to 55 TWh by 2050. In addition, to achieve the Paris climate agreement objectives,

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Autumn decoration
Raclette, Switzerland’s favorite national dish, as a welcome

the Federal Council has decided to reduce net CO2 emissions to zero by 2050.

To this end, the “Buildings Programme” of the Federal Government and the Cantons supports structural energy-efficiency measures in the building sector. Since its launch in 2010, the program has proven itself as an effective instrument of energy and climate policy in Switzerland. A total of CHF 2.7 billion of subsidies have been paid out under this scheme, and the Swiss building stock has been able to reduce its annual energy consumption by 2.8 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) and its annual CO2 emissions by 750,000 t. The effect of the subsidized measures cumulates over the lifetime of the project to almost 72.1 billion kWh and over 17.8 million t of CO2.

In Switzerland, real estate has long been regarded as a secure investment, and the building sector is regarded as progressive and sustainable. What are the present real estate market and construction trends in Switzerland, especially in light of the severe effects of the global crisis on these industries?

— Indeed, investors tend to view the Swiss real estate market as a safe harbor that is more crisis-resistant than in other countries. But to answer your question, let me mention the role of the “Sustainable Construction Network Switzerland” (SCNS), a platform founded by leading private and public enterprises whose goal is to make sustainable construction the norm in Switzerland. To this end, SCNS promotes cooperation between business, government, education, politics and science. SCNS also develops and promotes the “Swiss Sustainable Building Stand-

ard SNBS” which is used as the basis for planning of new building projects in Switzerland. In accordance with the federal government’s Energy and Climate Exemplarity initiative, certification according to SNBS or Minergie-P/A-ECO® should become the norm for all new buildings.

Switzerland is one of the largest foreign investors in Serbia. What industries are most appealing to Swiss companies and which recent investments do you consider to be the most significant? — Swiss investors are very well established in Serbia and we have witnessed growing interest in recent years. With EUR 1.8 billion of net investments in the period 2010 – QI 2022, Switzerland ranks among the top six foreign investors in Serbia. We estimate that Swiss companies in Serbia generate over 12.000 jobs. Last year, for example, Switzerland was the second biggest foreign investor in Serbia with EUR 650 million invested. Recent large investments include the opening of a production site of Regent Lighting in Svilajnac, the opening of TX Services in Belgrade and the construction of the Barry-Callebaut chocolate factory in Novi Sad. SIKA has expanded its production facility in Šimanovci, by bringing a further

For enjoying on the terrace even on cold days
Flags of Serbia and Switzerland in the hall of the residence

mortar facility and a new warehouse for raw materials on its site. Nestlé has opened a new plant for plant-based products in Surčin. Another highlight of our successful bilateral economic relations is the acquisition and “roll-in” of the first Swiss high-speed trains of Stadler Rail exactly one year ago. Successfully operating on a daily basis from Belgrade to Novi Sad to the satisfaction of all passengers, they are heralding the dawning of a new era of public transport in Serbia. Interesting sectors for Swiss investors are above all the ICT sector, wood and metal processing, furniture production, environmental protection and renewables, waste processing and real estate. In parallel, we are delighted to note that Switzerland has also emerged as a top investment location for Serbian companies, mostly in the ICT sector.

Swiss investors are becoming more interested in Serbia’s real estate market and construction sector, well-known Swiss companies, like Sika and Holcim, have a significant presence there. How important is this sector of our two countries’ economic cooperation, and are there any upcoming similar investments?

— With large infrastructure projects underway, the growing need in the construction sector offers major business potential for Swiss companies, both for those already present on the Serbian market and for new Swiss investors. Swiss products are already very present in the construction sector in Serbia. Think, for example, of Schindler lifts in buildings, SIKA construction materials involved in many major infrastructure projects, Holcim’s acquisition of Teko Mining this year, whose high-quality aggregates are useful in asphalt production, railway construction, and high-strength applications, or Sauter’s solutions for building management and room automation.

Swiss investors are also increasingly interested in investments in real estate and renewable energies. For these investments to become more substantial, however, one important aspect is ensuring that administrative and legal procedures in Serbia are efficient, functional, and independent.

Despite lacking a sea, like Serbia, Switzerland was able to maximize its natural beauty and generate top-notch tourism. We are attempting to do with our spas and mountains what you have done with the Alps and lakes. The recent entry of the renowned Swiss hotel brand Mövenpick in Vrdnik further proves that we are on the right track. What else do we need to maximize our tourist potential?

— Switzerland and Serbia have indeed a number of similarities: they are roughly similar in size and population, landlocked, at the crossroads of different cultural influences and proud of their respective traditions. Both countries have an immense wealth of scenic and cultural attractions. In Switzerland, tourism has become a major sector of the economy, and this is mainly thanks to the development of an adequate hospitality and transport infrastructure. The

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The lush garden of the residence is breathtaking regardless of the season

strategic approach of Serbia of developing an increasing number of cities and regions such as Vrnjačka Banja, Vrdnik, the Ovčarsko-kablarska gorge, Kopaonik or Zlatibor, and promoting them effectively, may greatly enrich Serbia’s tourism offer. For the development of a strong and sustainable tourism industry, it will be important to put in place an adequate infrastructure that complies with the most advanced standards of environmental protection. I am pleased to note that Switzerland is already supporting this development with contributions that are setting new standards e.g. in rail transport or in hospitality. Given the extensive Swiss expertise in these fields, I see a great potential of expanding further our bilateral economic cooperation.

In terms of Serbia’s natural beauty, how has it enchanted you throughout the past two years that you’ve lived here?

— As most Swiss people, I am a nature-lover and I think that many people in Serbia share this love of nature too. The possibilities for hiking, skiing, swim-

ming, canoeing and many other outdoor sports are plenty in Serbia and this has really been a big “plus” of living here. My wife and I both love hiking, and Serbia offers plenty of possibilities to combine a day of hiking with the visit of a monastery, the ruins of a medieval castle or a historic spa. Concluding e.g. a day spent in the autumnal forests above Vršac by sitting under a walnut tree in the yard of a winery in Gudurica and tasting an excellent regional wine feels like heaven.

You have served in several diplomatic missions across the world, as well as having lived and worked in different geographical and cultural settings. How did Belgrade’s way of life suit you? What distinguishes Belgrade from places like London, Budapest, Geneva, or Astana in Kazakhstan?

— Each city has its own character or feeling given by its specific mix of architecture, history, people, food, weather and other factors. Belgrade is a place that has been able to harness the best of many worlds and, as such, is a wonderful place to live in and to discover. It has a more “Mediterranean” feeling than London or Geneva and it is definitely very “European” if you compare it to Astana. What I love about Belgrade is the different atmospheres you can find: from Skadarlija, to Beton Hala, from Dorćol to Novi Beograd, from the busy Knez Mihailova to the calm banks of the Sava… There are many cities in one and you can always find a place to match your mood.

The ambassador admits that he enjoys the garden of the residence, especially as a great nature lover


Stadler electric trains have been running on Serbian railways for years, but since the high-speed train "Soko" became a favorite means of transport on the Belgrade-Novi Sad route, Stadler became one of the most well-known Swiss brands in Serbia. We asked Željko Davidović, Stadler's sales director for Central and Eastern Europe, in an interview for our magazine, what new products and services Stadler plans to market in Serbia and why this cooperation is more than just business

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ŽELJKO DAVIDOVIĆ, Sales Director for Central and Eastern Europe, Stadler

The high-speed train that runs between Belgrade and Novi Sad was named “Soko”, but perhaps it could have been called “Željko.”

Partly because we were all eager (“željni” in Serbian) to finally board a train traveling at 200 km/h, and partly because one Željko is at the heart of the successful cooperation between Stadler and Serbia. For him, this success story is much more than a business deal that he regularly makes with other countries in the region. Željko Davidović is Stadler’s sales director for Central and Eastern Europe, but whenever he has the opportunity, he likes to mention that he is from Mrkonjić Grad. It is a small town in Bosnia and Herzegovina, famous for many reputable people and most of all for King Peter I of Serbia, who, under the pseudonym Petar Mrkonjić, stayed there during the uprising against the Turks. However, as important as his birthplace is to him, as well as Belgrade, where he studied and where he likes to come with his wife whenever he gets the chance, Switzerland is also important to him since it has been his home for 32 years.

After graduating from the Belgrade University in 1991, he came to Wengen, a fashionable Swiss ski resort that was frequented by his then-sports idol, Bojan Križaj. He came to ski and rest, but stayed there as a ski instructor. Željko would say that his skiing vacation is still ongoing, but becoming Stadler’s sales director required a long professional journey and many life lessons from being a ski instructor. After realizing that he could not find a serious job without a Swiss degree, he completed post-graduate studies in economics at St. Gallen, learned German, worked as a waiter to support the family he had started in the meantime, and finally got a professional job in a telecommunications company. He advanced in many sectors of the company, learned all the harsh lessons of capitalism, and realized that he wanted to do something that united people rather than divided them. Once he entered the sales industry, trains and Stadler, where he has been employed for seven years, entered his life.

“Trains are amazing. Trains bring people together and bring interests together. That’s how I like to work. I’m not just a seller who closes a deal for a certain amount of money and goes on. Combining people’s interests and figuring out how I can help gives me pleasure. The cooperation between Serbia and Stadler could have ended with the delivery of new trains, but it didn’t because we made many small steps toward connecting each other in the meantime, so it is now an important long-term cooperation,” says Željko Davidović.

Stadler electric trains have been a trademark of Serbian railways for many years. Meanwhile, we’ve

grown accustomed to the comfort of high-speed trains running on the Belgrade-Novi Sad route, and new trains have been ordered. How many Stadler multiple units in total will run on Serbian railways?

— Back in 2013/2014, we signed a contract with Serbia for 21 single-deck electric trains, which were delivered and are already in operation. Last year we delivered three double-decker electric trains, so-called high-speed trains, and, as far as I can see, they became very popular. It raised the popularity of other electric trains as well, which is very good because the advantages of traveling by train are great: passengers don’t get tired, they don’t use cars, it’s safer, there are no accidents, it’s more comfortable, it’s cleaner, and there’s no pollution or traffic jams. My colleagues often call me while they are taking the high-speed train to Novi Sad. They are delighted with how quickly they arrive, and that is all very positive. I also think that the President of Serbia, Mr. Vučić, contributed a lot to the popularity of those trains because he rode in them several times and even gave interviews while traveling in

them. Last year, Serbia ordered another 18 single-decker electric trains from Stadler, and their delivery will begin at the end of next year. That will be a total of 42 Stadler electric multiple units on Serbian railways.

Three high-speed trains that Serbia bought were the first high-speed trains delivered in Eastern Europe. Have your high-speed trains started running on some other railways in this part of Europe, apart from Serbia, in the meantime?

— No. Serbia is still ahead because no country in that part of Europe has built tracks for high-speed trains yet. In Eastern Europe, only Serbia has a railway for highspeed trains. Double-decker trains operate in Hungary, but their maximum speed is 160 kilometers per hour because they do not yet have a suitable track. It is true that the section of high-speed rail in Serbia is short, only running from Belgrade to Novi Sad, but the goal is to expand it towards Subotica, then connect with Budapest, and later, towards Niš, i.e., the south of Serbia.

During the recent visit of the Serbian delegation


to Switzerland, headed by the former Minister of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure, Tomislav Momirović, it was announced that Serbia will buy hybrid trains from Switzerland for sections that have not yet been electrified. Will these be Stadler trains too?

— The delegation visited the state-owned Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) and heard their experiences and advice. They concluded that it is best for Serbia to buy trains that can be used both now and later. Hybrid trains, to which Mr. Tomislav Momirović was referring, are, in fact, diesel trains that can be switched to electric drive if necessary. Now they can be used on sections that are not electrified, and when the conditions are right, they could be upgraded to function as electric trains. Stadler also has such trains in its offer, Italy and Slovenia, for example, are buying them from us. These trains operate in many European cities, such as Zurich and Berlin, and usually connect the suburbs with the city center. I don’t know if Serbia will buy them from us. First of all, a tender for public procurement should be announced.

Until now, Stadler has always won tenders in Serbia. Were your offers really that much better?

— Yes. We always won tenders, and I’m really happy about that because, as someone who comes from this region, I personally tried to make offers more favorable, prices lower, and delivery times faster. However, it’s not just the numbers that decide. Emotions play an important role as well. If they disappear, then this will be another planet. So we can say that, actually, in the background of this whole business cooperation, there was some Željko from Mrkonjić Grad, who made a little extra effort on both sides, and all be -

cause I have a great desire that tomorrow, when my grandchildren take a train ride around Serbia, or by tram in Belgrade, they can say: “These are our grandfather’s trains and trams!” So, it’s not just business for me because I sell these trains and trams to other countries in Central and Eastern Europe as well.

Emotions are also important. That is why the meetings between the Stadler delegation and representatives of the Serbian government were always more than just business meetings. You know, the owner of Stadler, Peter Spuhler, is a billionaire, but he was very impressed when he travelled by train together with the President of Serbia and when Aleksandar Vučić gave him superb hospitality at Salon 1905, in the Geozavod building, in the presence of the highest state delegation. Such a reception and socializing really had an impact on Peter Spuhler, who became fond of our people. Following that, Mr. Spuhler extended the highest level of hospitality to our delegation in Switzerland, in the presence of our diplomatic representatives, Consul Mihailo Šaulić and Ambassador Goran Bradić. And that’s how the cooperation between Serbia and Stadler started. That’s exactly how it should work at the state level.

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Stadler delegation in Serbia with President Aleksandar Vučić

At the beginning of this year, Peter Spuhler and the Stadler delegation visited the MIND Park in Kragujevac. It was announced that the production of components for rail vehicles and possibly complete trains for Stadler could be started within the MIND Park. How far have these negotiations come?

— What Mr. Bratislav Milanović has done with the MIND Park in Kragujevac is world-class and deserves great respect. On the other hand, Stadler is progressively expanding every year. Given the already favorable conditions, it was a reasonable decision to move a portion of the production to Kragujevac while relaxing the production in Poland, where we have already exceeded all production capacity limits. We

negotiated the production of components for rail vehicles in the MIND park, but it all took place seven days before the war in Ukraine began. When the war started, incredible and uncontrolled reactions from the countries followed, and our owner decided to halt all further expansion until the situation was a little clearer. He then recognized that this collision, which happened in Ukraine, was not just a one-day event and that it would create a new global trend. Regardless of all the circumstances, we are going to MIND Park again, among other things, because of the possibility of producing some components for trams there. And Belgrade needs new trams.

What kind of trams are best for Belgrade?

— We would like Stadler trams to become a symbol of Belgrade. Those are trams of exceptional quality— trams that do not rattle when the lines are bent and do not produce vibrations in the nearby buildings. When it comes to tram lines, every city in the world is dealing with the same problems. There are certain line deviations as a result of the weather, which includes heavy frosts and colds in the winter and strong heat and sun in the summer. After that, they require maintenance every two to three years. Wealthy cities in Western Europe, such as Helsinki, Zürich, and Stockholm, can afford that. Eastern European cities, due to a lack of funds, perform such infrastructure servicing at longer time intervals, usually seven to eight years. As a result, there are increased track deviations and additional vibrations and rattles. In such conditions, damage of tram lines as well as the tram wheels is significantly increased, which raises costs

Peter Spuhler, owner of Stadler, and Željko Davidović, during their visit to Belgrade The high-speed trains that Serbia bought from Stadler are still the only high-speed trains operating in Eastern Europe

Stadler also has a large selection of metro vehicles in its portfolio, all of superior design and quality

for both the city and the operator. Stadler developed a special tram base that adapts to the unevenness of the tracks in the lower part of the train and stabilizes it in the upper part to avoid or minimize such effects as much as possible. Thus, on the one hand, there is no additional damage to the tram lines and wheels, and on the other hand, passengers do not feel the rattling and vibrations. It’s a pretty remarkable solution. Although we developed such a stand mainly to satisfy the needs of the Eastern European market, it is interesting that the city of Milan immediately bought those trams, as did the city of Sarajevo. Belgrade has one of the most demanding topographies for tram traffic in Europe, and I’m sure that this technical solution would be perfect for it.

Was there any mention of the potential future purchase of trains from Stadler for the Belgrade Metro?

— When it comes to the metro, I think it falls within the scope of the interstate agreement between Serbia and France, which provided Serbia with a loan of around 500 million euros.

If the opportunity arises, Stadler would be very happy to offer its products for the Belgrade Metro as well, which are truly superb in terms of design and quality. Modeled after the French loan, we came up with the idea that Stadler could be the initiator of a loan that would be secured by the Swiss state export insurance, under very favorable conditions. The loan would include around 800 million euros for trains and 400 million euros for trams, along with funds to build service stations for the maintenance of rail vehicles. However, it turned out that Switzerland, as a confederation, does not have the constitutional authority to make interstate agreements, so we are currently looking into the options for how this loan might be realized.

A recent working visit of our delegation to Switzerland and discussions about the reorganization of Serbia’s railway transport show that Switzerland is clearly a model and will provide support in the further improvement of railway transport. In what other ways, apart from the delivery of new trains, could Stadler contribute to the mo -

“Last year, in September, we helped the Swiss Embassy in Belgrade organize a small jubilee celebration—we marked 20 years since Switzerland donated 115 trams to Belgrade. I refer to those green and yellow trams, which may look old-fashioned but still work impeccably. That was after the NATO bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, at a time when nobody in the world wanted to cooperate with Serbia, and Switzerland was the only country that, without any conditions, gave a significant gift to Belgrade. These were all serviced trams, and they came with many spare parts. GSP drivers say that they are still safer to drive than the new, red ones. They claim they operate like a Swiss watch,” says Željko Davidović.

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dernization of Serbian railways?

— The people who work at GSP and Srbija Voz are exceptional world-class experts, and this is always noticeable in meetings like these, such as the last visit of the Serbian delegation to Switzerland. It was precisely the lack of funding that forced our people to overcome all technical problems and make experts out of them, which never ceases to amaze our colleagues from the West. However, the complete functioning of railroad traffic now needs to be raised to a much higher level. Since Stadler is a train supplier for Serbia and a company that is in daily contact with colleagues from Serbia, we work together on education as well as the daily training of the staff who work on servicing our trains. In addition to the excellent cooperation related to rail vehicles, we also have interesting examples of cooperation on other levels. I would like to mention the visit of Dr. Ansgar Brockmeyer, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Stadler, deputy CEO, and member of the executive board of our company, to the Faculty of Transport and Traffic Engineering in Belgrade in March of this year. Mr. Brockmeyer gave a guest lecture on the difficulties in developing high-speed trains and aroused great interest. This encouraged the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering in Belgrade to send us proposals for cooperation that would include, among other things, student exchange and student internships at Stadler. We are currently developing a plan for such cooperation, and we would be extremely pleased to host and provide an opportunity for students from Serbia to gain their first experiences in development projects in some of the Stadler’s research centers.

Stadler is one of the leading producers of rail vehicles, with more than 14,000 employees in more than ten co -

untries around the world. This year, you celebrated the 80th anniversary of your establishment. What is the key to such long-term and widespread success, and what type of product is currently in the most demand?

— Let me tell you, the key to success is not one single thing. Our owner took over this company in 1989, when it had only 18 employees. He got a bank loan of five million francs and set out to motivate people to come and work for him with the promise of making a global brand. As it worked then, it still works today. He is a teambuilder. For him, it’s more of a passion than a business. And so is all of us who work at Stadler. We work for a salary, of course, but we are also driven by passion, and we are incredibly connected as a team. Our slogan is “There’s nothing that can’t be done.” We don’t merely follow corporate rules; Peter, the owner, quickly makes decisions about whether something can or cannot be done, and then we all push in that direction. He is very good at motivating people and is very fair; he always shares his success and profits with all his employees. People like him very much, not only in our company but throughout Switzerland. He is a very positive person.

As far as trends are concerned, green technology is currently trending in Europe, so now we are mostly developing battery-powered and hydrogen-powered trains. We have been working on this project for four or five years. We did a lot of tests, which are incredibly expensive, by the way. In addition to hydrogen and battery-powered trains, we are also developing hybrid trains, which are in high demand on the market. We also offer trams of exceptional quality with minimal exploitation costs. Our development team works every day on improving the products, so our portfolio, in terms of quality, is top-notch.

A proposal for a new Stadler tram for Belgrade


At a time when the prices of fuel and electricity are reaching their historical maximum, smart homes stand out as an efficient solution for energy savings. Find out how smart homes make our lives easier, what the advantages of ABB smart systems are, and what their application looks like in the Novi Dorćol project

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Text and photo: ABB SRBIJA The New Dorćol project

If we could pick just one word to mark the technological progress of the 21st century, a safe choice would be the adjective smart. We wear smart watches, use smart phones, and watch programs on smart TVs. Even objects such as chairs, lamps and glasses have become “smart” in modern society. It would seem that the broad use of this designation has somewhat ruined the initial idea, so today we can rightly question its true meaning.

In the world of technology we would call a device “smart” if it has some form of “intelligence”, i.e. if it can “think” in a way. The same goes for smart homes that provide more than just remote control of appliances. These intelligent systems provide comfort and security at all times.


The concept of smart homes is well known in the West, while only a small number of people in Serbia are familiar with the advantages of this new way of living. As explained by Vladimir Šijačić, Director of the Pametan Stan company and ABB`s distributor and system integrator, smart buildings “think” in accordance with predetermined rules set by the system installer or the users themselves. Therefore, this is not about artificial intelligence making autonomous decisions. You can relax, smart houses will not take over control of your lives.

A smart building, whether house, apartment or business space, is designed to make life easier for its user and make it more cost effective. Automated control of electrical installations, such as lighting, blinds, motorized shades, heating and cooling, as well as control over household devices will ensure their optimum use, and provide us with easy living without the need to think about too many details. Furthermore, all appliances in smart buildings are properly turned off, thereby increasing the safety of living. This knowledge ensures we can sleep tight.

Whether we are at work or at home, our day often consists of routine tasks that do not vary much from day to day. Going to work at a certain time means locking the house, adjusting the heating or cooling temperature and turning the alarm system on. All these actions can be automated to save time and make sure they have actually been done.

Šijačić explains that for each of these situations we can have a “scenario” that will initiate a number of actions on the electrical installations and devices in the home and thus quickly align the environment with our needs.

“If, for example, you want to watch a movie, you

can play the ‘watching a movie’ scenario that will automatically darken the room, turn on the TV, offer you a list of movies and perform other actions to provide you with an ideal environment for watching a movie”, explains Šijačić, adding that the same is true for other scenarios, such as “going to sleep”, “travelling”, etc. The point of smart home systems is to group a number of actions so we do not need to walk from switch to switch, pressing them, or to avoid having a dozen remote controls on our table, which is certainly not the most practical solution.


The increase in fuel and electricity prices during the past few months has made us check increasingly often whether we have turned off all lights and household appliances not actively in use. With smart homes we do not need to worry about this anymore. In fact, we can be certain the appliances have been on only when the use of electricity was lowest.

Let us say that during heating season we turn the heating on at four in the morning, as the electricity is cheapest then, but nobody really likes the idea of getting up from their warm bed so early. Smart


homes have a solution for this. Heating will be programmed to turn on at the crack of dawn, providing us comfort and maximum savings.

According to Vladimir Šijačić, energy savings are highest in heating and cooling buildings, and lowest in lighting, as the market is dominated by LED lights that in themselves do not use a lot of power. However, regarding exterior lighting, we need not worry about the time for turning the lights on, as a smart home is equipped with a timer that precisely “knows” when the sun sets and when additional light is needed. Taking everything into consideration, we should be aware that a smart home can save us up to 40 percent of heating and electrical power, notes Šijačić.


If you like the idea of your home working for you and performing most of the routine tasks, it would be good to know when and how you can install it. Šijačić explains that users have at their dis -


A total of 4,300 ABB smart home devices were delivered to the Novi Dorćol building, for 225 apartments

posal wired and wireless smart systems, where wired systems involve setting additional installations during construction. Therefore it is best to think about smart systems during the initial phase of construction and in collaboration with the architects, as wired systems provide greater communication stability and security compared to wireless systems.

are made at the ‘cloud to cloud’ level, with paramount importance given to communication security against external intruders and continuous improvement of communication”, says Šijačić.


ABB has produced myriad technological solutions that dominate global markets. One of them is the ABB-free@home system that is becoming increasingly popular in our region.

ABB-free@home relies on the KNX system, with over 30 years of tradition. The ABB-free@ home system is completely open to all manufacturers, meaning we can have many appliances by different manufacturers in our home and they will successfully communicate among themselves.

Nearly all smart systems distributed by the Pametan Stan company are made by the manufacturer ABB. This company is known for its ideal solution for communication with other devices.

“The communication between the ABB-free@ home smart system and other devices is achieved based on a ‘cloud to cloud’ system. ABB practically has their own cloud containing information about your system, while appliances such as the washing machine in your home have their own cloud with the relevant information. Connections

Dejan Dešić, Sales Manager for the buildings, transport and infrastructure segment of ABB, notes that this system offers users capabilities they do not have in the KNX system, as they no longer need a programmer.

“The user no longer needs a system integrator to program their equipment, one who needs to enter the user’s apartment to change the software every time the user wants to change anything to make things function differently. With the ABB-free@home system, the user has avoided the cost of hiring a programmer. Now they are the ones doing this whenever they wish, adapt-

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ing the system to their own habits. Another advantage of this system is that the equipment of a manufacturer such as ABB is considerably more economical in price than equipment for the KNX system”, says Dešić.

He says the first smart building in Serbia was built in Belgrade, on Terazije, followed by a number of commercial buildings, such as the flight control building in Surčin and luxury villas, while recently there is increasing consideration given to smart home systems in mass-housing construction.

Recently, investors of the Novi Dorćol project have recognised the advantages provided by smart home systems, and opted for ABB as a reliable manufacturer present across all continents. A total of 4,300 smart home devices were delivered to the Novi Dorćol building, for 225 apartments with a surface area of 16,800 square metres. A total of 950 scenarios were created, and six meteorological stations

All indications show that the time of smart buildings is yet to come in our region, with many projects under preparation to save energy and provide maximum comfort to satisfied users. At a time when the price of fuel and electricity is reaching a historical maximum, smart homes stand out, along with renewable energy sources and other energy efficiency measures, as an efficient solution to help us overcome the energy crisis.

ABB d.o.o.

Bulevar Peka Dapčevića 13, Beograd +381 11 3094300,

ABB is a leading global technology company that energizes the transformation of society and industry to achieve a more productive, sustainable future. By connecting software to its electrification, robotics, automation and motion portfolio, ABB pushes the boundaries of technology to drive performance to new levels. With a history of excellence stretching back more than 130 years, ABB’s success is driven by about 105,000 talented employees in over 100 countries. ABB has been operating in Serbia since 1990.

were set up on the building, informing users of the weather and warning them of hazardous situations.
Novi Dorćol: six meteorological stations were set up on the building, informing users of hazardous situations


The development of low-carbon solutions is part of Lafarge Serbia's business strategy. For the past few years, the company has been intensively working on the development of a green portfolio of innovative building materials that correspond to sustainability standards

Text and photo: LAFARGE SRBIJA

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GTC X office building, New Belgrade

According to the United Nations, cities produce more than 60% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, but they are also key players in tackling climate change. By 2050, about 70 percent of the world’s population is expected to live in cities, with an additional 2.5 billion people. Demographic growth and urbanization directly encourage construction; hence, it is predicted that, as a result thereof, the annual world production of concrete, from the current 4.5 billion tons, will rise to as much as 5.5 billion by the middle of the 21st century.

On the other hand, the production of cement, the main binding component of concrete, accounts for about 7% of CO2 emissions in the world. We cannot imagine modern construction without cement and concrete, for which globally there is no equally available and efficient alternative. Given this data, it becomes clearer what the responsibility of the manufacturers of building materials is in terms of stopping the harmful effects of climate change.

The transition towards a carbon-neutral future is only possible if we include this principle in construction, and sustainable construction begins already in the design phase, where the harmful impact on nature can be reduced by choosing building materials.

The development of low-carbon solutions is part of the business strategy of Lafarge Serbia, which for the past few years has been intensively working on the development of a green portfolio of innovative building materials that correspond to sustainability standards.

The Lafarge ECO portfolio includes ECOPact green concrete, ECOPlanet green cement, and green binders for infrastructure. Due to the low emission of CO2 per ton of material, all the listed products meet the requirements of the leading green certificates: LEED, BREEAM, DGNB, WELL, and EDGE.

Lafarge Serbia employees provide full support to their customers to help them reduce the carbon footprint of their buildings and infrastructure, that is, to build better and more with less resource consumption. It is the only way to build progress for both people and the planet at the same time.


ECOPact is the trademark of the Holcim Group for concretes that have at least 30% and up to 90% less carbon footprint than concrete produced according to the industrial standard while maintaining the same characteristics and efficiency required of concrete. The recipe for ECOPact is made according to the requirements for strength and exposure class, depending on the purpose in the project documentation.

ECOPact concretes are comparable or even more advanced in terms of their physical and mechanical properties (strength, waterproofness, and resistance) compared to standard concretes, while the technological properties of fresh ECOPact (homogeneity, workability, cohesive-

ness, stability, and machinability) are in the same range as the conventional ones. They are suitable for all reinforced concrete elements, while the very process of production, delivery, and installation of green concrete does not differ from the usual one.

As with standard products, the very process of producing green products like cement and concrete requires quality control and monitoring of both the raw materials and the final product. Later, through stable process parameters, consistency in performance is guaranteed.

In our offer, ECOPact is available to customers in Serbia from 2021, and from 2022, ECOPact Prime is also available, with a 55% lower carbon footprint.


Green concrete, which is based on cement blended to provide a lower heat of hydration in concrete (CEM II/BM(SV)42.5N LH), meets the broadest range of commercial requirements. It is suitable for all reinforced concrete elements. Its low hydration heat, as well as its high durability and strength, make it ideal for building massive foundations and piles for bridges. It is suitable for all classes of concrete exposure in aggressive environments thanks to its chemical and mineralogical composition, as well as the production of frost-resistant concrete XF3 (maximum 150 cycles).


So far, the use of ECOPact concrete has been excellent in the construction of industrial complexes, particularly the tire manufacturing factory in Indjija and the logistics and distribution center in Šimanovci.

As for residential projects in Belgrade, ECOPact is currently being delivered to several projects that have opted for green building, choosing materials for a more humane living and working space, among them the Belgrade Waterfront projects—Libera, Sole, and Scala—as well as the residential-business complex Novi Dorćol. ECOPact was used in the construction of the recently opened GTC X premium class office building in New Belgrade, which, thanks to the high standards of green building and energy efficiency, has been awarded the LEED Gold Certificate.

Our expectations are that the demand for green materials on the market will increase because, in addition to the reduced impact of harmful gases on the environment, these materials also have improved characteristics when it comes to certain applications.



The USAID 5-year Better Energy project is focused on improving energy efficiency at the municipal level and increasing the use of renewable energy sources in Serbia. The project's Chief of Party, Daniel Berg, explains the project's first results and local examples of good practice


The Serbia Better Energy project was started by USAID exactly one year ago with the intention of providing financial support for energy efficiency improvement projects at the municipal level as well as changing attitudes about this kind of energy investment. Daniel Berg, the project’s Chief of Party, is very proud of what the Better Energy team has accomplished in a short time and not always under easy circumstances. “It is very correct timing for this project, given that USAID started Better Energy at a time when we can help address some of the consequences of the ongoing energy crisis and also help Serbia meet its commitments on global and local environmental measures,” says Daniel Berg at the beginning of the interview.

What is the project’s goal and what are the expected results?

— Better Energy seeks to demonstrate that energy-efficient measures are possible and financially sensible. Our project works primarily with local public and private partners to adopt new products or practices.

We are working to improve the supply of energy, for example, by helping district heating plants adopt energy-efficient technologies that allow them to deliver heating to citizens more efficiently. And we are working on the demand side, with a focus on multifamily apartment buildings. In fact, these buildings represent one of the clearest opportunities to save energy, as they often waste more than 50% of the energy received. However, in order to upgrade these buildings, it is necessary to convince homeowners that they can receive the benefits of improved efficiency. That is why we are working with the Ministry of Mining and Energy on an education campaign. And perhaps the most important issue we can address is facilitating the financing of investments in energy efficiency measures. We are therefore working with the government, donors, and commercial investors to develop sustainable financing mechanisms.

What have your major activities been so far, and are there already some examples of good practice in upgrading energy efficiency in Serbian municipalities?

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Photo: USAID

— We started the year by reviewing technical and financial capacities at the local level, in municipalities, District Heating Plants (DHP), and Homeowners Associations (HOA). We wanted to hear from local managers how we could help them and what obstacles they saw to investing in energy efficiency upgrades. We then designed trainings and tools that would help DHP managers consider the best investments for improving their efficiency. A similar tool has been developed for apartment buildings.

In Sombor, Niš, and Knjaževac, we implemented grants totaling about USD 200,000, which in different ways will help them reduce their fuel costs. Perhaps my favorite project is the upgrade of Knjaževac District Heating Plant’s substation servicing the city’s kindergarten, “Bajka”. The city has previously implemented energy efficiency measures on this building. The new substation will ensure the children have a comfortable and healthy setting fit for learning and playing, and should be 20–30% more efficient, allowing less use of mazut and biomass.

We are now about to implement our first small pilot grants for multifamily apartment buildings, together with grants from the Government. We hope to use these pilots as examples to demonstrate that older buildings can be efficiently upgraded and that the investment is self-financing due to the savings on energy bills.

The total fund for the project is 10 million dollars. What is this amount of money dedicated to, and on what basis do you choose which local projects to support?

— The 10 million dollars are divided between technical assistance from our expert team of engineers and advisors and also distributed in the form of grants and subcontracts for work and policy support. Projects with DHPs were selected in 2022, based on proposals from a dozen DHPs. They were successfully completed in time for this year’s winter heating season. Over the course of the Better Energy project, we expect that the USD 10 million will leverage significant coinvestments. For example, our first grants were cofinanced by the DHPs themselves. The same will be the case with our first apartment building retrofit projects, which are currently under preparation. The greatest impact will be evident when we change attitudes and perceptions toward investing in energy efficiency and local renewables, leading hopefully to a significant increase in the resources going to this priority.

How can we increase the number of prosumers and use of solar energy in Serbia, and how does

Belgrade, with so many apartment buildings, fit into this solar concept?

— Photovoltaic energy of all types can definitely make an important contribution to Serbia’s energy mix and energy security. The price of PV systems has fallen dramatically over the past 20 years, and today countries in the region are getting an increasing share of their energy from PV and other renewable sources. Smallscale renewables such as prosumers take advantage of empty rooftops. The government can facilitate an expansion of prosumer activities by streamlining and regularizing the permitting and contracting processes. The government can also reduce any fees and alleviate unnecessary fiscal burdens on prosumers.

As to the potential, buildings with flat, open rooftops and good solar potential are prime territory for prosumer investments. Besides reducing the use of fossil fuels, the apartment owners should benefit from lower cost of electricity and therefore improved financial security. Our project seeks to support both enterprises and homeowners who are interested in investing in PV arrays. We are teaming with partners such as the Serbian Chamber of Commerce, GiZ, and NALED to jointly work on the regulatory and overall support systems for PV development.

USAID has recently launched a new five-year regional Investment in Energy project. What can Serbia expect from this project?

— The USAID’s new five-year Regional Investment in Energy project, worth 20 million dollars, will help provide funds to facilitate (conducitng feasibility and project development studies) public and private energy projects, thus increasing their chances of being financed. The Investment in Energy activity will facilitate potential investments in the following areas: improving operation and management of energy and water utilities, heat and power generation, transmission and distribution networks, heat supply, citizen demand side, water supply and sanitation. We expect that the project will lead to millions of dollars of new investments in energy projects. I fully expect Serbia to benefit greatly from the program – which can improve Serbia’s energy security.



With more than 100,000 solar panels and more than 140 solar power plants installed throughout Serbia as well as 30 years of experience, expertise, and reliability, MTKOMEX significantly contributes to the energy transition, helping citizens and companies to produce solar energy themselves

The energy crisis, whose end is not yet in sight, has caused hardship even in the most developed economies of the world and has challenged us all to turn to renewable energy sources as soon as possible and ensure energy independence and stability. Every kilowatt of green energy, whether it comes from a few solar panels on a home’s roof or vast solar farms, moves us closer to the target of having 40% of Serbia’s energy come from renewable sources by 2040.

The local company MT-KOMEX, which will soon celebrate its 30th anniversary, makes a significant contribution to the accomplishment of energy transition goals by helping citizens and companies step into the world of solar energy, start producing their own electricity, and significantly reduce electricity bills. With its expert team, which continuously acquires new knowledge and stays updated with technological changes, MT-KOMEX has so far installed solar power plants on the roofs of households, commercial and in-

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dustrial buildings for more than 100 clients, with a total installed power of 60 MW. They have designed solar power plants with a total power of more than 200 MW, performed more than 120 energy audits and analyses, and built more than 140 solar power plants.

MT-KOMEX is currently involved in the construction of the DeLasol solar power plant in Lapovo, which will cover an area of 12 hectares. Apart from its size, this solar power plant will also be the largest in terms of capacity in Serbia. It will generate 15,000 megawatt-hours of electricity annually. Its size is also reflected in the number of solar panels – as many as 17,980 of the most efficient panels, with 650/655Wp power generation capacity, were manufactured by the renowned Canadian Solar.

In order to make the best possible use of the sun’s energy, bifacial solar panels, which generate electricity more efficiently than monofacial panels, were prepared for the construction of the DeLasol power plant. With bifacial panels, there is an ability to increase the electricity yield from both sides of the panel, which is why they generate a larger amount of electricity. The solar panels will be placed on a specially made structure that allows greater absorption of reflected radiation. Thanks to the Municipal Administration of Lapovo, which recognized the value and importance of the project, a construction permit was obtained, as well as the conditions for design and connection by the Electric Power Industry of Serbia. This was preceded by the adoption of the urban planning project and the obtaining of the location conditions. According to the plan, the power plant should be commissioned on March 1, 2023.

The construction of the DeLasol solar power plant is not the only project in 2022 that MT-KOMEX can boast of. In July, a contract for the construction of another bifacial solar power plant was signed between Toyo Tires Deputy General Manager Kenichiro Takasaga and MTKOMEX Director Miloš Kostić. The Toyo Tire Taiyo solar power plant, with a total power of 8.4 MWp, will provide Toyo Tires with 10 to 15 percent of its annual electricity needs, and it is expected to be put into operation by the end of this year.

An example of the last solar power plant completed by MT-KOMEX, which was built in two phases, the first with a capacity of 490 kW and the second with a capacity of 600 kW, shows the following: the new 490 kW of solar capacity will provide the investor with 596,700 kWh of green electricity per year. The return on the EUR 330,000 invested is expected in six and a half years, and the maintenance of the solar power plant will cost this company only EUR 500 annually. And that’s not all; MT-KOMEX’s client will not be the only one benefiting from the mentioned investment, but also the whole society, since CO2

savings will amount to 477,360 kg per year.


The digitalization of the cadastre reduced crowds and tension at the RGA counters, and as of next year, it will no longer be necessary to come to counters at all, says Borko Drašković, Director of the Republic Geodetic Authority. According to him, the whole of 2022 was a year of great success for this national service, with the most notable achievement being the effective defense against the hacker attack

If we were to summarize in one sentence the up-to-now results of the digitization of the Republic Geodetic Authority, which has been carried out for several years, we could say that the current operation of the RGA differs significantly from how it operated just four years ago and that the citizens notice this difference. Not only are there no more crowds at the counters and new cases are resolved in no longer than five days, but numerous new services introduced this year made it possible for every citizen of Serbia to be provided with the same data available to the director of the RGA. Of course, this is not the end of the extensive reform of this service, which will continue intensively next year. We asked RGA director Borko Drašković what challenges, problems, and goals await them on the way.

Serbia’s real estate market was very active throughout the year, with several records set. What trends, in your opinion, marked this year, and what was different compared to the previous ones? — What is different from last year is the fact that today, every citizen of Serbia can get answers to the-

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se questions simply and free of charge, thanks to the Republic Geodetic Authority. Today, the same data available to the director of the RGA is also available to every citizen of Serbia. At the beginning of November, we presented a new product, the Apartment Price Index for the Republic of Serbia, which shows trends in the real estate market in a precise and credible way. After a dizzying growth in 2021 and a record in the number of transactions and property prices, the real estate market in Serbia is slowly calming down. Extremely strong growth in sales during the second half of 2020 and the whole of 2021 is milder in the first half of 2022, and the latest data indicate that this trend will continue until the end of the year. Residential property prices also showed mild growth in the third quarter of 2022, which has been observed in many other countries as well.

Last year, around this time, you came out with data obtained from satellite images showing that from 2015/16 to 2020/21, a million new buildings were built in Serbia, which then accounted for as much as 10% of all built facilities. How many newly built facilities have emerged in the last year? — Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to such a simple question, even though there should be given that the issue is crucial for the state, the economy, and the citizens of Serbia. There are two ways to find the answer. The first way is to collect satellite images for a year, which is not the case today and requires considerable financial and personnel resources. The second, more sustainable way is for all national, regional, and municipal organizations that are involved in Serbia’s construction sector in any way to be digitalized in line with and at the level of the RGA. It is not enough to just have some IT system that exchanges PDF documents and say we are digital. Full digitization is a process that includes digital laws, digital processes, and digital technologies that enable the exchange of structured data, on the basis of which it is possible to automate processes and develop analytical tools, and that is applied to all participants in the system. A small number of institutions are aware that they need to digitize their business processes, constantly improve them, provide training, and implement new solutions. If such an approach were to be applied, the answer to your question would be simple, free, fast, and available in real time to everyone, with the possibility of monitoring both through space and time.

The year was also dynamic in the RGA itself. You’ve experienced a few affairs, even a hacker attack,

but that certainly didn’t hinder the final phase of the digitization process. How far has this process proceeded, and will it be completed next year?

— To be clear right away, affairs related to RGA do not exist. An affair means that something illegal or immoral was done, which is not the case here. This has been demonstrated by numerous supervisions, investigations, tests, controls, audits, and inspections conducted in recent years by a large number of state authorities related to the RGA’s work. In the case of RGA, attempts to fabricate affairs are reactions to RGA’s anti-corruption activities. Simply put, what is in the interest of the citizens is not in the interest of various interest groups, who see the digitization of the RGA as the main threat to their comfortable and financially profitable positions, such as they had in the old system.


Digitization and reform are continuous processes that, if carried out in the right way, will never be finished as they are constantly being improved and optimized. The reform process of the RGA is proceeding in accordance with the plan and activities regulated by the agreement between the Government of Serbia and the World Bank. The challenges you mentioned, such as fabricated affairs, hacker attacks, and others, have not hindered us at all on our reform path; they even enabled us to implement very important activities much earlier than they were planned. This has been quite noticed by the citizens, and the difference between today’s RGA and that of just four years ago is evident. The system we develop and implement is one of the most cutting-edge systems in the world.

The hacker attack on RGA this summer interrupted the operation of the cadastre for more than two weeks. After five months, is it known who was behind this attack, how much damage it caused to RGA and its users, and what steps have you taken to be more protected in the future?

— There was no direct damage to the system or the data of Serbian citizens. The data of citizens and real estate remained intact and uncompromised, which was confirmed by the inspections and supervision of the Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection and the Mi-


nistry of Trade, Tourism, and Telecommunications. We had backup copies of all data, and RGA successfully defended itself against the biggest hacker attack in the country so far. We have drastically improved the RGA system in terms of hardware, software, and processes. This means that there is now stricter control over the communication of our officers with the outside world, as well as with the remote access system of the RGA. The reaction, defense, and protection of the system were quick and efficient, thanks to the quality of the established system, the experts that RGA has, and the exceptional reaction and help of other state authorities, of which I would single out the Security Information Agency and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, to whom RGA is immensely grateful for professionalism. Also, I am proud of the fact that the world’s largest cyber security companies came to our aid: Kaspersky from Russia, Carbon Black from the USA, and ESET from the EU, as well as the largest domestic IT companies such as Saga, Comtrade, Oktacron, MDS, SkyExpress, Extreme, Telekom, Microsoft, and many others. Detailed forensics and analytics were done by the biggest experts in this field, and a lot of interesting details and information were discovered that I cannot disclose because the investigation by the Prosecutor’s Office for high-tech crime is in progress.

lutely clear that the solution to the problem lies in changing the analog laws and applying a digital way of thinking with clearly defined norms. Due to the aforementioned analog legal solutions and imprecise norms, the verification of documentation and the procedure according to the applicable laws in certain cases take a very long time. On the other hand, the resolution of cases under the new law on the registration procedure with the real estate cadaster, which came into effect in 2018, takes up to five days. It is clear that co-validation and digitization of old documentation must be done in order to resolve them within five days, which is our goal.

Is an unregistered property the reason for the double sale of apartments, as was also the case this summer with the building in Mirijevo, or something else?

— Properties registered in the cadastre cannot be the subject of double sales. We took care of this by passing the law on the registration procedure with the cadastre, introducing eCadastre as a central, up-to-date real estate cadastre database available to everyone, and providing a large number of services, such as the cadastral alarm, which informs all real estate owners about any attempt to threaten their rights.

Despite all the problems, including the fact that you need 402 more employees because you have reached the technological maximum, RGA was presented in August as an example of good practice at the UN. What did you present there?

The fact that almost half of the buildings in Serbia, which is about five million, are not registered while at the same time their sale is allowed, which opens up space for abuses, was also in focus this summer. Is it possible that none of the 53 laws regulating real estate transactions can solve this problem, and how can we introduce the rule that one becomes the owner of the property only by registering it in the cadastre?

— Although technically simple, it proved to be extremely difficult legally. The essence of the problem lies precisely in the fact that there are a large number of laws regulating the acquisition of rights to real estate. The solution is the introduction of an integrated system of law and mandatory registration of real estate and rights to real estate in the state register—the real estate cadastre. RGA believes that ownership can only be obtained through registration in the cadastre register. This would eliminate all dilemmas or possible abuses. Quite simply, the 21st century is the century of digitization.

Digitization is not only a technical solution but a way of thinking. A digital way of thinking implies clear and unambiguous norms and procedures with a clear beginning and end. These laws date back to the last century, and it is abso-

— In the past few years, RGA has received a number of recognitions for its work from the largest international and domestic institutions and organizations, such as the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Federation of Surveyors, the International Society of Appraisers, NALED, and many others. In the international framework, and here I am primarily referring to the UN and the World Bank, the reform we are implementing is known as the Serbian model of cadastre reform and is an example of the best global practice. This fact was included in the official documents of the UN, and Serbia should be proud of it. Citizens also feel these big changes; it’s enough to go to any service throughout Serbia and see that there are no longer crowds and tension at the counters, for which RGA was once known.

RGA recently introduced a new service, the National Disaster Risk Register. For what purposes can citizens use it? — The Register is the result of many years of excellent cooperation between the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Sector for Emergency Management, the Office for Public Investments, with the support of UNDP, and a large number of state bodies and organizations that worked together with the RGA to develop this system. The system allows citizens to see all information about risks in one place, such as landslides, flood areas, climate data, the geological composition of the soil, the risk

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of drought or hail, and the level of earthquake risk, and to overlay this data with their real estate and make decisions about the crops they will cultivate in that area or measures to reduce the risk for their real estate. On the other hand, it helps state authorities make the right decisions for prevention, response, and remediation of sites in case of disasters, etc.

This year, RGA launched the Register of Investment Locations. What information does this register provide, and what has been the response of local governments to joining it so far?

— The Register of Investment Locations is another new information system that we developed with the Development Agency of Serbia. It is a system that is extremely important for attracting and managing investments in the entire territory of Serbia. It is not only about finding an adequate investment location based on various parameters, such as area, ownership structure, location infrastructure, access to logistics infrastructure, or analysis of the available labor force in the area or market, but also includes analysis of expansion potential, the definition of measures by the state or local government for the im-

provement of a certain location as well as restrictions on the same, etc. The pilot phase of the project has been successfully completed with 11 local governments, and we are currently working with 24 local governments on their integration, after which the phase of including the whole of Serbia and improving the system will begin.

Throughout the year, RGA was one of the most active national services. What do you consider the greatest success this year, and what can we expect in 2023?

— This was a year of great success for RGA, both on a domestic and international level. However, the greatest success was definitely the effective defense against the biggest hacker attack so far in Serbia. That was the moment when everyone realized not only the importance of RGA for Serbia but also the fact that RGA possesses extraordinary skills and knowledge in the most advanced technologies. The digitization process will continue in the upcoming year, allowing Serbian citizens to access the cadastre data via their mobile devices without having to actually attend the counter.


the data available to the director of the RGA are also available to every citizen of Serbia


“No other real estate event offers the chance to access and unlock such significant global investment capital as MIPIM and we are looking forward to welcoming a growing delegation from the Balkan countries,“ says MIPIM’s director, Nicolas Kozubek

MIPIM, the leading property market event, brings together the biggest players from all sectors of the real estate industry in Cannes every March. Following the post-pandemic hiatus, MIPIM 2022 saw the return of more than 20,000 delegates from over 80 countries, featuring over 360 speakers and 2,400 exhibiting companies. In an interview for our magazine, we asked MIPIM’s director, Nikolas Kozubek, what will be the highlights of the upcoming MIPIM 2023 (14-17 March) and why companies from Serbia and the whole Balkan region should not miss the opportunity to meet and network with everyone—from politicians to project managers, investors, and global cities—in one place.

For a long time, MIPIM has been a major event on the calendar of the real estate industry. What makes it so special, and why is it almost a matter of prestige to be in Cannes every March?

— It is hard to find another event that has been going on for more than 30 years where so many people who have a role in the built environment can spend so much productive time together in just one week. Investors are at the heart of MIPIM. The event provides the opportunity to access major global investment capital in a way that no other real estate event does.

Last spring, during MIPIM 2022, we found that in-person, face-to-face networking, debates and meetings are irreplaceable for conducting and grow-

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ing businesses, for securing vital investment, and for sharing knowledge and new ideas. MIPIM continues to provide a unique, amazing opportunity to make all of these things happen.

What does MIPIM look like in numbers?

— Following the post-pandemic hiatus, MIPIM 2022 saw the return of more than 20,000 delegates from over 80 countries. MIPIM 2022 featured over 360 speakers, with 2,400 exhibiting companies at more than 350 exhibition stands and pavilions across 18,500m² of exhibition area.

In 2023, we expect greater attendance, as 2022 was still impacted by the post-pandemic uncertainty. We are tracking very positively for 2023 and will undoubtedly build on the success of 2022 edition.

What can an exhibitor expect during this fourday event, and how important is an effective booth presentation?

— MIPIM offers an unrivalled opportunity to access major global investment capital by promoting a city, a region, a development, showcasing the latest innovation and trends in real estate and by expanding networks by meeting our industry’s key players.

For organizations whose main goal is attracting new investment and starting new lines of communication, I’d recommend creating a space that allows for an easy flow of people and provides comfort for guests. A booth layout that places team members ready to engage is preferable. But attending conferences and live discussions as well as fringe events is also important because MIPIM is all about inspiration and connection to fuel our customers’ businesses now and in the future.

Green building, sustainable solutions, energy efficiency, smart cities, and proptech are generally real estate trends that will shape our future. Those were the topics of last year’s edition, whose theme was Driving Urban Change. What will be the theme and main topics of MIPIM 2023?

— Continuing the Driving Urban Change theme from last year, the conference program in 2023 will put the spotlight on ESG, innovation, and technology solutions able to accelerate the transformation of the built environment towards a more sustainable model. The focus of the event will be on three topics: user experience, ESG and decarbonization, and business efficiency. MIPIM 2023 will feature six new stages, including the ESG Solution Stage and the Leaders’ Perspective Stage, focused on keynote speeches from those making waves in industry. In

MIPIM 23 will take place at the Palais de Festival in Cannes from the 14th till the 17th of March 2023

previous years, such senior speakers as François Hollande, the French President from 2012-2017, and Ban Ki-Moon, the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, gave the opening keynote speeches at MIPIM. This year we are also expecting a special guest, whose name we will announce later. We will publish the conference program shortly.

as strong as it could be. What would you say to our regional companies about why they should not miss MIPIM?

— As the region continues to grow, the presence of Southeast Europe is very important to us, and we are looking forward to welcoming a growing delegation from the Balkan countries. No other real estate event offers the chance to access and unlock such significant global investment capital as MIPIM. It is a unique real estate event in terms of its size and scope and its ability to put everyone—from politicians to project managers, investors, and global cities—in one place for one week.

The Asset Class Stage looks into individual sectors to see where the market is going. The Infrastructure Stage looks at the impact that water, energy, data centers, transport, and more have on property development. The Geo Focus Stage examines specific local markets, while the ESG Solution Stage is exactly what its name implies. The Make It Happen Stage will feature conversations about use cases and collaboration.

The real estate and construction industries in Serbia and Southeast Europe in general are growing, but the region’s presentation at MIPIM is not

MIPIM is not only a four-day real estate festival but can also be a yearly source for urban affairs and a global digital networking platform. What do MIPIM online services offer?

— The MIPIM Online Directory offers a unique opportunity to organize in-person meetings prior, during and after the event: find the list of participants, browse company profiles, select the prospects that are most pertinent to your business, and get in touch with them. In order to ensure that our exhibitors get the most out of MIPIM, we also introduced new digital services, such as premium profiles in the online database to ensure better visibility and a badge scanning mobile app that will offer quick and reliable lead collection capabilities on-site.

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How are the preparations moving along for the upcoming MIPIM, and do we already know what to expect and what the event’s overall highlights will be?

— MIPIM will welcome a truly international audience in 2023, with strong demand already underway. We already have major European cities that have joined a growing list of international exhibitors, which includes Prague, Tallinn, Riga, Helsinki, Paris, Berlin, Düsseldorf, Milan, Warsaw, Stockholm, Madrid, London, Liverpool, and other cities and regions. Continuing the Driving Urban Change theme from

last year, the conference program in 2023 will be all about ESG and innovation. Rather than giving it its own platform, ESG will be diffused into everything we do in 2023. A new “Road to Zero” area will feature a new 400-square-meter space positioned at the heart of MIPIM to approach the latest pragmatic, efficient, and scalable solutions toward a net-zero carbon built environment.

We are also introducing two exclusive offevents open to MIPIM delegates on Monday afternoon dedicated to booming trends: Co-living and Logistics.

“The MIPIM Awards 2023 will focus on projects that seek to enhance the built environment’s prospects, in line with ESG goals. Last year, we had a broad range of international entries, with the winners coming from across Europe, Turkey, and China. We encourage all companies from Serbia and the region to submit their exemplary buildings with a holistic commitment to sustainability. Prizes will primarily go to projects that best serve their end-users and larger communities while making an economic contribution, taking into account construction and operational carbon as well as climate and life cycle concerns. The six key criteria are overall sustainability, integration of the project into its environment and community, quality of the user experience, economic contribution, originality of the concept, and architectural qualities. As in previous years, the categories include best new development with the total surface area less than 150,000 sqm, best new mega development of more than 150,000 sqm, best cultural, sports and education project, best hospitality, tourism and leisure project, best refurbished building, and others”, says Kozubek.


The International Belgrade Furniture Fair, which was recently held after a two-year break, gathered more than 180 exhibitors from 20 countries. The presence of numerous exhibitors from the region once again demonstrated that this is a leading regional business event for the wood and furniture industries. That was the occasion to discuss current trends in the domestic furniture industry and its export potential with Nataša Govedarica, secretary of the Association of Forestry, Wood Processing, Furniture and Paper Industry of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia (CCIS).

For two years, domestic furniture manufacturers were unable to exhibit at the Belgrade Furniture Fair and showcase their products to a larger market. What has mostly affected this industry over the past two years, and have any new trends emerged in the meantime?

NATAŠA GOVEDARICA, Secretary of the Association of the Wood Processing and Furniture Industry, CCIS


Serbian furniture has a growing presence on international markets since furniture manufacturers closely follow modern design trends and global production standards, says Nataša Govedarica, secretary of the CCIS Association of Forestry, Wood Processing, Furniture and Paper Industries


Photo: PKS

— A few years ago, many domestic companies, such as the largest domestic manufacturers of paneled and upholstered furniture, decided to organize home fairs in their showrooms. The trend of home fairs during the Furniture Fair is a custom for many companies that own furniture showrooms, manufacture furniture or raw materials for furniture, and manufacture home decor products but do not exhibit at the Fair itself.

Considering that the Belgrade Furniture Fair, which is typically held at the beginning of November, was not held for two years, home fairs became a trend in the meantime. Regarding consumer behavior, the fair itself actually moved to furniture showrooms, stores, and social media channels, supported by TV and radio advertising. Accelerated digitalization and online sales have assumed a significant role in terms of trade as a result of the altered conditions that the pandemic has placed on our way of life.

How significant is the furniture industry for the Serbian economy, and how far has domestic furniture managed to conquer foreign markets? What do we export most, and where?

— If we look at the export of Serbian furniture, it is increasing year by year. Production processes, as well as the furniture industry’s design, follow world trends in all production segments, from solid wood to panel furniture to upholstered furniture. Serbian products are mostly sold in the traditional regional markets of the former Yugoslav Republics, followed by Austria, Germany, France, Romania, Italy...

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How does the domestic furniture industry look in numbers?

— According to the Serbian Business Registers Agency data, 3,000 companies whose core activity is furniture production are actively operating in Serbia. In addition to this activity, more than 5,600 companies operate in the field of wood processing. This year, around 22,000 workers were employed in the furniture industry and another 17,500 in the wood processing sector. Bearing in mind that this is a particularly strong SME sector and that the problem of a lack of qualified labor is growing year after year, this is a good trend because the employment rate has been steadily and slightly increasing in the last five years.

What measures have been taken to solve the problem of the lack of skilled labor in this sector?

— The Serbian Qualifications Agency and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia have for years been very committed to the issue of education for deficit occupations, including educational profiles from this sector. The fact that more than 150 new companies applied for participation in the 2022–2023 school year shows how important dual education is for our economy. More than 10,500 students were educated in 150 schools in Serbia through the dual education system, and more than 700 companies “opened their doors” to students so they could acquire the necessary practical knowledge and skills.

In October last year, a department of woodworking students was formed at the Technical School in Ćuprija, based on the model – Operator for furniture making. With the support of the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technological Development and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia, the students had the opportunity to study for the educational profile needed by the economy. This dual model is realized in the company Standard Furniture Serbia, which was one of the initiators of the implementation of dual education in the mentioned field of work. In response to economic necessities, a new four-year educational profile has been prepared for the next school year – Furniture and interior design technician..

How many of our manufacturers take advantage of the chance to promote their products at international trade shows, and how does your Association and CCIS assist the domestic furniture industry in making a name for itself abroad?

— The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia strives in many ways to connect its members with potential partners abroad as well as to open new mar-

kets for the economy. In cooperation with the Swiss Import Promotion Program (SIPPO) and the Center for Fairs, Manifestations, and Events, the Association of Forestry, Wood Processing, Furniture, and Paper Industries of the CCIS organized a commercial mission and a visit to the Fimma Maderalia Fair (International Trade Fair for Materials, Technology, and Components for Furniture, Wood, Interior Design, and Contract Projects) in Valencia, Spain, which was held from March 29 to April 1, 2022. Before the pandemic, in 2019, with the support of CCIS, Serbian wood processing companies exhibited under the

national stand at Interzum, the world’s leading trade fair for suppliers of furniture production and interior design. During the pandemic, domestic companies from this sector had the opportunity to participate in the digital fair Interzum@home, which was held on a hybrid online platform from May 4 to May 7, 2021.

How much do our wood and furniture industries follow the growing trend of sustainability? — For several years now, the topic of sustainability has been very ongoing, not only in the production of furniture but also in the production of all wood products, bearing in mind that this industry is one of the true examples of a circular economy. The wood processing industry produces minimal waste since it sells the byproducts of primary production as raw materials to chipboard producers or utilizes them to heat boilers with sustainable biomass.

The wood processing sector creates minimal waste and is an example of a circular economy

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MELANIJA PAVLOVIĆ, General Manager, JAF Serbia


Melanija Pavlović, General Manager of JAF Serbia, has been successfully leading a team of 80 people for three years. Regardless of their success, for her, this position above all else represents a responsibility for 80 families. For us, it's a great introduction to a story about women leaders, especially in the so-called male-dominated industries, and how unique, caring and brave they are

If there is a woman who is well-known as a leader in business circles and is often recognized in public as a role model for other women who want to build a career in sectors traditionally held by men, then it is Melanija Pavlović, General Manager of JAF Serbia. With a degree in architecture, she could have devoted herself to designing and creative work, but her faith in herself, adrenaline, and desire for growth led her into management and kept her in the construction industry throughout her career. One would think that it is somewhat unattractive and rough terrain for a woman, but not a woman who takes care of a company as if it were her own family and household. We asked Melanija why it is so important to have a great team and take care of it, and whether being a man or a woman is important in business or if it’s just about confidence and clear thinking in demanding situations. We also talked about the latest designs of wooden products that we can use to embellish our home and workspace in the following year.

How does one become a leader, regardless of gender, and did you have such ambitions when you graduated in architecture from the Faculty of Architecture in Belgrade and Business Administration Studies (MBA) in Great Britain afterwards?

— People usually focus on the present moment without taking into account that nothing happens over night and that nothing in life comes easy. Hard work and discipline

are the foundation of every major endeavor. How does one become a leader? You become a leader by working hard, improving yourself, constantly working on yourself, following trends, and adapting to current market conditions. I wanted to continue my education while working and to fuse my knowledge and work experience, so I decided to specialize in international business. An MBA degree is a step up in your professional career, and a British degree is valued around the world. Furthermore, you become a leader by believing in yourself. If you are insecure, scared, shy, and lacking in confidence, you will have a hard time dealing with real, everyday challenges. Having faith in yourself is extremely important for the realization of all life plans and goals. We are all born shy, and confidence takes time to develop. Leadership means taking responsibility. Someone who is ready to take full responsibility for his or her actions and decisions is destined for success. Leadership means fearlessness. Be fearless, be daring, and be a real optimist. There is no fear. Fear is not innate; we pick it up from our environment. When a child is born, everything seems unknown to it, even fear. Fear is the easiest way to manipulate people. I often repeat to myself that fortune follows the brave, and this is not an empty phrase but a guiding idea. If you have faith in yourself, you will be fearless, and you can do anything. We are the creators of our own happiness, our careers, and our lives. No one can help you if you are unable to help yourself. Make your plans, set high goals, and work hard to realize them.


You became the head of JAF Serbia three years ago thanks to many years of experience in companies engaged in the production and sale of construction materials and system solutions for the construction industry. What were your motives for replacing the comfort of the design office with field work, meetings, negotiations, travel, and, in general, manager stress?

— The Faculty of Architecture is an engineering faculty, so it was a logical step for me to start designing after graduation. Designing can be static, often tied to work in the office. Given that I am a communicative person, my job led me to sales of building materials and system solutions for construction. Being familiar with your product plays a crucial role in sales. All construction materials require professional knowledge and extensive experience in carrying out the project. We often encounter problems in practice. Building materials are very specific because their installation affects the entire building.

At the time I was studying, the Faculty of Architecture had a lot of subjects that were also taught at the Faculty of Civil Engineering, not to mention mechanics, statics, concrete structures, and draft geometry. However, I often used to say that I am an architect, a designer, and that we, “creative types,” do not understand business. Eventually, my choice was to go into management, negotiation, contracting, and

dynamism. There must be passion in life and work. If there is no passion and dedication, there will be no results. You have to feel adrenaline. Some would say that work is stressful. Work is not stressful if you plan well, set goals, and respect deadlines. Of course, unforeseen situations happen. When it comes to them, you have to try to keep a clear head and take a constructive approach to solving them.

Last year, you received an award for regional leader given by the Srem administrative district of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia for exceptional results achieved in management and leadership. How do you achieve exceptional results in extraordinary circumstances, since your management has coincided with crisis situations in the global market?

— I joined the JAF team in 2019. In March of 2020, a state of emergency was declared and a curfew was introduced. As a manager and leader, you have to adapt to every situation, but when you encounter something unforeseen and unknown for the first time, something for which you cannot use models from the past, then you have to apply a special strategy. My strategy for the company was to continue working while respecting all the protective measures, of course. Transport, production, sales— everything was operational. I made decisions on

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“Leadership means fearlessness”, says Melanija Pavlović

a daily basis following the current situation. Some employees worked from home; some took annual vacations. I managed to save people, business, and earnings; no one was fired, and the company ended the year with the planned profit. As a joke, I like to mention that I have been running the company for three years in risk management mode and that this is already a normal situation, considering as well the ongoing crisis in Ukraine that started at the beginning of this year. People in this region are already used to working with all kinds of challenges. Hard work brings results, sooner or later. Proper management leads to improvement and prosperity in business. I try to contribute with my work to the company, the employees, and the local community as well. If someone recognizes it, then it’s proof that you’re doing the right thing, and rewards follow logically. Hower, the awards set new goals before you, and you have to justify the given trust; there is no relaxation. I am extremely satisfied with the cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia as well as with the RCC Sremska Mitrovica.

What was this year’s major challenge for JAF Group as a leading European wholesaler of panel materials, timber, and wood products? How did you balance between the extreme price jumps and the needs and possibilities of the clients?

— Since the beginning of the pandemic, the market has transformed. The pandemic caused disruptions in production, transport, trade, and the availability of raw materials. All this caused instability in product prices. JAF Group, like many other distributors and wholesalers, has faced shortages of certain products, delivery delays, and price increases. Flexibility in business enabled the placement of alternative products, and JAF Group consequently had an extremely successful year in 2021, with a turnover exceeding one billion euros. The price increase by the producers of panel materials and wood has put before us the demanding task of increasing the prices ourselves. However, the general situation in the construction industry and the total increase in the prices of all construction materials somehow leveled everything. Everyone continued to work, and this trend continues to prevail. Last year was also extremely successful for JAF Serbia.

Who are your main clients, which products are in high demand, and is your business growing from year to year, despite the crisis, since the construction industry in Serbia is still expanding?

— Our clients are carpenters, construction compa-

nies, manufacturers of doors, windows and floor coverings, architects, architectural offices, furniture manufacturers, interior designers, investors, specialized industry, facade system contractors and many others. JAF is Central Europe’s leading wholesaler of wood and wood panel materials. The clear vision of the founder and the homely approach to business contributed to the fact that customers see JAF as a reliable partner that offers them good service with an extremely wide range of products at all times: plywood, veneers, veneered panels, compact panels for interior and facades, timber, univer, raw chipboard, plywood, decking and much more. JAF is recognized for its wide range of veneers and processing center that provides our customers with the service of cutting, joining, and pressing veneers. Numerous online tools are available to our customers, such as Veneer World, an online shop for B2B customers, and webcut. In the past few years, JAF Serbia has recorded exceptional growth, which is directly conditioned by the large expansion of the construction industry in Serbia and the region as well.

A European corporation with a tradition longer than 75 years that operates in 18 countries is expected to be a leader in the circular economy and social responsibility. What are your practical experiences, since the high standards of the JAF Group are aplied to all branch offices?

— We are a domestic company with 100% Austrian capital. We are part of a corporation, and unlike domestic companies with owners, we have certain standards in business that are mandated by the corporation. With our work and contribution to the community, we try to transfer and apply not only European but also world standards. I would like to mention some of the projects we are working on or that we have implemented.

We joined the dual education system this year. In order to complete the knowledge gained during the first two years of attending the Furniture Design Technician course with experience in our company, the first students arrived in October.

We also support projects that focus on gender equality and celebrate the International Day of the


Girl Child, trying to use our company’s example to show that women are equally accepted as leaders and managers.

I would also like to mention the donations and sponsorships to the Faculty of Architecture and Mechanical Engineering through the excellent projects they organize (BEOAVIA association, Nikola Dobrović’s exhibition and other projects), Regional Trade Fair in Nova Pazova – within which the employment fair is also organized, where we gather at the local level and work together to strengthen the local economy. We also participate in conferences and events intended for architects and designers.

In all the interviews, you’ve mostly talked about how important it is to build a good team, respect

your colleagues, and invest in their education and career advancement. What kind of relationship do you have with your team at JAF, and how much do some typically female skills and that innate female instinct to “take care of everything and everyone” help you in this?

— People “make” business, and one cannot do it alone. A good team and good teamwork bring results. A good team is created, nurtured, and transformed. You must nurture employees, stimulate them, invest in their development, and improve their working environment. People have to trust you and recognize a leader in you—someone who holds the helm firmly in his or her hands. I currently lead a team of 80 people, which is 80 families. People sometimes forget that the position of general manager also carries a huge responsibility. Women’s skills and that innate female instinct to “take care of everything and everyone” definitely add value to management because women are more meticulous and go into more detail. I often joke with my female friends who are in management positions that women are like “housewives who clean up and bring order to the company.”

People spend eight or more hours at work. The company is their second home, and I believe that

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JAF Serbia has big plans ahead

people should go to work happy, not with discomfort and uneasiness. However, tasks must be completed and work must be done. If you take care of people, the company will progress, and the work environment will transform itself in a positive direction.

To what extent does the construction industry, including JAF itself, offer women with the necessary professional qualifications (or the possibility of retraining) the opportunity to get a better-paid job and a chance to show their qualities? And how ready are women to use that opportunity?

— In the construction industry, you have many women in various business roles, and many of them are in very high management positions. Many women are the authors of important architectural projects in Serbia and around the world, and they are also members of world-class teams of architects and civil engineers who construct numerous modern buildings and objects of reconstruction, carrying out the restoration of historical works.

JAF is a corporation that respects equality, with great respect for women. Out of eighteen countries in the JAF Group, there are women in director positions in five countries. Beside me, there are four other female directors in the JAF Group—in Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Poland, and Bulgaria. I must say that all of these countries are very successful in their businesses.

Out of ten employed forestry engineers in our company, two are women. We have female colleagues who work in the sectors of sales, procurement and logistics, and production. My colleague Dragana is the head of production. My colleague Vesna works in a machining center for joining and pressing veneers, and some would say that this is strictly a man’s job. People should be given a chance, and women are “wolves” who know how to use that chance.

I believe that nowadays the problem is not emancipation and the equalization of men’s and women’s jobs. Women are more burdened, but in addition to the work in the household and caring for children, they are successful managers, which is not easy. An important issue in our country and in the world is the wage gap between women and men. Women are still paid less than men. We hope that this will change in the near future.

The path to the position, reputation, and success that you can boast about today was certainly not easy. Who supported you more along the way— women or men?

— The path to success is never easy for anyone. I have

always been my own biggest supporter, and the support of my family has been additional “wind at my back.” I have had excellent communication and cooperation with both men and women all these years, so I could not make any differences in this regard. Women’s solidarity exists at work, and I have had a lot of support during my career. I think it is important to be fair and professional in your work and to help people as much as you can. It always pays off in the end. No one knows what new challenges are in store for us next year, but it is certain that we will still need beautifully crafted wood with a modern design to enhance our living and working spaces. What will be the focus of your business in 2023, and what new trends in the design of your product range can you announce?

JAF Serbia has big plans ahead. Next year we are celebrating a small jubilee, 15 years of business in Serbia, so that is a light motive for us that will run through all spheres of our business. Further growth and development are planned, depending on what challenges 2023 has in store for us. The guiding idea of our corporation is “Wood is our World”, and I would add that we are a reliable partner for decorating your interiors with wood and wood products. Wood still holds the primary position in interiors, so that trend will continue. There is still an emphasis on wood decor with regards to chipboard, and all stone decors are in trend as well. Compact panels and laminate panels continue to have significant applications in the furniture industry. As a general manager and leader, I would add that you should go step by step, day by day. You should not be afraid; you should carefully plan your operational business in the next year; you should invest in marketing. But we cannot certainly know and control what will happen. Crisis is also a chance for growth, and we must be realistic optimists.

JAF Serbia showroom, GTC Green Heart, Novi Beograd


The NOVASTON real estate platform is distinguished for its property, asset, project and marketing management services. The owner and CEO, Mia Zečević, is proud of the continuous progress of the company and the fact that they are approaching the number of 100 employees, although, as a true leader, she will always say that it is the merit of the whole team

Agood team, headed by a true leader, hard work, and constant monitoring of business trends are proven recipes for success, which is exactly the case for NOVASTON platform. Today, NOVASTON is a wellknown real estate brand distinguished for its property, asset, project and marketing management services. They take pride in the fact that they are approaching the number of 100 employees just before the celebration of the first ten years of business operations. We talk with the owner and CEO, Mia Zečević, about of the platform took advantage of the turbulent changes in the market to expand services and operations in the region. As a result, today they can boast of developing more than 40 strategic projects as well as managing 500,000 m2 for more than 15 foreign and domestic clients.

NOVASTON real estate platform stands out for the fact that it has mostly women in the leading positions, including you as a CEO. Have you ever, throughout your career, questioned your success and leadership in this powerful business, run by mostly male leaders?

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— Prejudices of any kind have not at any point affected me, not even those related to the position of women in relation to men. I have never let my gender be an obstacle in my career. Although it was not always easy, I had the support and guidance of strong and successful people, both women and men, who gave me the chance to gain experience and make progress as a person and as a professional. There is no progress without hard work, and that is why now, as the CEO of NOVASTON real estate platform, I have a team that follows up trends and successfully develops services in the field of real estate management, with a focus on office space. Leading positions in our company are held equally by women and men, primarily experts with many years of experience who set high standards in the real estate market. We strive to ensure that education, innovation, as well as quality and hard work, are valued regardless of gender or other affiliation.

We have been living in crisis circumstances with rapid and radical changes for a while, which additionally burdens every business, especially management, with risk and stress. How did your team deal with such situations? What business actions of NOVASTON are you proud of from that period?

— All industries, including real estate, faced turbulent changes in the global and domestic markets. On the other hand, this time also brought an opportunity that we used to strengthen and develop Novaston. We have not only significantly expanded the services but also the team—we are already approaching the number of 100 employees. Something like this would not have been possible if we had not always taken care of the employees while growing the business, which currently covers a range of services from marketing to asset evaluation, project development, and property management services. After almost a decade of business operations, we can boast that Novaston develops more than 40 strategic projects and manages 500,000 m2 for more than 15 foreign and domestic clients, among which are BIG CEE and NEPI Rockcastle, CPI, GTC, Ikea Serbia, as well as MK Group, Novkabel, and Aleksandar Gradnja... In addition to the already established position in the retail, office, and logistics sectors, we continue to apply trends in the aparthotel management sector through cooperation on the newly built Woodside project, a complex of 162 apartments in Kopaonik. The management concept is based on providing quality maintenance services and a warm relationship with the apartments’ owners and guests. In addition to management services, the goal of our platform is to offer the owners

a return on investment through the rental of apartments, taking into account the tourist potential and the concept of the project. We are working on several other similar projects, aiming to provide all stakeholders in the project development process with a long-term investment product.

Out of the entire portfolio, the NOVASTON platform has achieved exceptional results in the retail park and office space sectors. What are the tendencies for the further development of these sectors, given the general estimate that both are very promising in our market? — We keep following the expansion of the demand for high-quality office space in central business districts. It is no longer just about modern design; companies are looking for high-tech and functional office space that enables work flexibility, stimulates productivity, and fosters creativity, with an emphasis on the health and well-being of employees. Environmental protection is also part of responsible corporate management, which is why commercial build-


ings must adhere to energy efficiency and sustainable development standards. Our Leasing team offers attractive business premises within the Central Business District (Indotek’s portfolio, Airport City, Kennedy Offices, Bridge Plaza in block 43, Grawe building...). When it comes to the retail sector, NOVASTON operationally manages 14 STOP SHOP retail parks in Serbia that are part of the large investment fund CPI Property Group, the AVA Shopping Park of the IKEA company, as well as the PULS Shopping Park in Pirot. Our long-term client is the Promenada shopping center in Novi Sad, owned by NEPI Rockcastle Group. According to our rich experience, investors are increasingly turning to retail parks in smaller cities, because its construction requires less funds and a relatively short term in several phases. Those centers are also becoming social gathering points; hence, the offer of social content—cultural events, concerts, themed days, and weekends—is therefore growing. In that sector, too, more and more attention is being paid to ecology, whether through the use of renewable energy sources for work or the installation of electric car chargers.


Leading positions in NOVASTON are held equally by women and men

NOVASTON expanded its operations in Croatia as well, through the retail sector, but also through hospitality management. What is this project about?

— We started our portfolio in Croatia by participating in the setup and management of retail parks. We then expanded our business into hospitality management and the development of luxury commercial and residential facilities. I would point out our consulting services in property management for a luxury real estate resort in Istria, including over 250 luxury apartments and villas. Currently, we are focusing on projects in Rijeka, including the development of commercial and residential facilities in the city center as well as the entire city core of Rujevica.



This year, the number one topic in the real estate sector is energy efficiency. Is this aspect becoming more important to buyers and tenants, as well as investors?

— Even before the last crisis caused by the war in Ukraine, developed countries invested in the diversification of energy sources, the security of supply, decarbonization, and energy efficiency. Investors are also increasingly choosing to implement solutions that include renewable energy sources. Our NOVASTON Project company, as part of the platform, was engaged in the successful BREEAM certification of STOP SHOP parks in Serbia and Croatia, which is one of the most important methods for setting green building standards. We are also involved in the reconstruction project of the Novkabel Hall in Novi Sad, where the Schneider Electric Hub will move next year. The 17,000-square-meter structure will be reconstructed in accordance with all green building standards. It will not only be energy efficient and carbon neutral but also highly technologically equipped in regards to lighting, air quality, employee comfort, and so on. Our entire team is capable and knowledgeable about the operational management, design, and marketing of such facilities.

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"There have always been and will continue to be female leaders, but I do not consider myself a leader. I am part of a team where everyone has their duties and responsibilities, only my responsibilities are slightly bigger," says Jovana Vrbica, Director of Conza Properties, a company that provides local clients and investors with "one-stop shop" services in all segments of real estate transactions


The expansion of the real estate sector has also increased competition among real estate service providers. For some of them, it was an opportunity to stand out from competitors with their unique business practices and win over customers. This is the case with the company Conza Properties, whose team is a combination of youth and experience and builds human relationships with its clients in addition to the professional real estate services they provide. The fact that the team leader is a woman only sparked this success story that we share with the Director of Conza Properties, Jovana Vrbica.

The construction and real estate industries in Serbia have been experiencing a significant expansion for several years now. How did you position your company in the market in these circumstances? — For almost a decade, Belgrade has been known as the “city of cranes”, and this tells us that the offer is increasing and that serious volume projects are coming to the market. We can say that there was no downtime even during the COVID crisis, and there is not one even now, when, due to the unfortunate circumstances in Ukraine, the whole world, and above all the construction materials market, was shaken. Conza Properties is a company that emerged as a logical development need for a group of investors who have been in the construction business of different building structures for more than two decades. We strive to provide a “one-stop shop” service and help clients with advice or mediation in all segments of the real estate market. Our main focus is

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JOVANA VRBICA, Director, Conza Properties

on residential projects. Currently, our absolute priority is the sale of 170 apartments in the RESIDENCE 7+ project in Marije Bursać Street in Kalvarija in Zemun.

Is it possible at all to operate competitively in this sector today without unified sales and lease services, property appraisals, market research, project management, and project financing?

— With increased activity in the market, the number of real estate service providers has also increased. Conza Properties, as a local company with a focus on providing services to our close clients and investors, is certainly not and does not want to be a competitor to multinational companies that have decades of corporate relations with institutional investors. We are a small team of professionals who do not enter a “memorandum” but cherish a human relationship as per every request, offer, meeting, and conclusion of a contract. We believe that one company cannot have within its staff the best people on the market in every business segment; hence, we decided to cooperate with others. If we are not able to answer the requests within our team, we turn to associates who are experts in their field. Our company is growing and developing, and we believe that we are a good combination of youth and experience. Our CEO has been in the real estate business for over two decades. He held leading positions in international consulting companies and gained experience on the markets of several EU countries.

How much work and effort is needed to make the right combination of seller and buyer, that is, lessor and lessee, and how do they all respond to a woman running such a business?

— Many people believe that brokerage is a simple job and that an agent’s only role is to bring two parties together, most often the buyer and seller. It is also commented that we, as agents, do not invest any funds and that it does not matter to us what the results of the deal are. I think it is clear that any professionalism implies serious preparation, hard work, control of the process, daily multitasking, and observing the situation from a wider angle. Whether a broker or agent will be successful depends entirely on himself or herself. As for the “battle of the sexes,” as I jokingly understood your question, I really don’t see an issue with it. The client expects only one thing from us: to have a deal done successfully. Who will complete the deal is absolutely of no importance to a client. I understand that it is not very common for a woman to run this business, but if you look at the market, there are just as many women brokers as men, if not more. In construction and investment, the case is different, although there, too, women are slowly but surely taking over management positions.

What made you opt for business and project management in construction, both through education and work experience, and what ambition led you to the position of Director of Conza Properties? Can we say that we have a new generation of female business leaders? — I have always had a preference for design, architecture, and marketing, and I like to meet people and communicate. This job is definitely very dynamic, and what I like is that every working day is different. A successful agent certainly does not sit in the office and wait for an inquiry to come to him or her by itself. I have been familiar with construction in my family since my earliest childhood, and I am glad that I was given the opportunity to do what I love with a team of, above all, good people and excellent professionals. As for female leaders, I


wouldn’t say it is a matter of the new generation. There have always been and will continue to be female leaders, not to mention names like Margaret Thatcher and others, but I do not consider myself a leader. I am just part of a team where everyone has their own duties and responsibilities, but only my responsibilities are slightly bigger.

How do you anticipate the market in the next year? Where do you expect stagnation and growth, and what will be the focus of your company’s business? — The period of one year is short, and I don’t see any big changes coming ahead. History has shown that the real estate business—that is, investing in real estate—changes in cycles, and that one cycle lasts from five to ten years. A downward trajectory is certainly ahead of us, but it will not be felt in Serbia until the end of next year. On the contrary, due to high demand, there is a possibility that prices will rise. It is beyond doubt that less money will be in circulation, so it will be more difficult for loan borrowers. Maybe the current dynamics of sales will slow down a bit, but there won’t be any significant changes. The slowdown in sales will be related to the extraordinary success of certain projects, where dozens of sales contracts are concluded in a day. Our focus is on residential projects, and the priority is to complete the sale of the residential complex RESIDENCE 7+, which has more than successfully started. We are convinced that in the case of this building, the ratio of quality, price, and location is perfect.



"Being a woman in the real estate market is a benefit because by nature we are capable of multitasking, we quickly adapt to new situations, and we take responsibility," say Jasna Bajić-Ljubičić and Dragana Badnjevac, owners of JD Properties and Consulting, which provides a full range of real estate services

Why are there more and more women working in the real estate industry? What does having a lot of market competition entail for a company? How do you find good projects and clients today? Will property and rental prices continue to rise in the coming period? Those were the topics of a conversation we had with Jasna Bajić-Ljubičić and Dragana Badnjevac, owners of JD Properties and Consulting, an agency that offers clients a tailored approach in order to satisfy their needs and a wide range of services for the sale and lease of all types of properties.

Your agency is an example of how a good partnership and a modern business concept can help it stand out on the market and be recognized as a trusted name. What brought you together as partners in the real estate business, and how do you explain the fact that women increasingly dominate this field?

— Long-term joint work in the real estate market with selected goals and a profiled approach, primarily for demanding clients in residential locations as well as business people who know what they want at all times, has influenced the development of each of us. Self-growth, constant learning, and improve-

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WOMEN Jasna Bajić-Ljubičić Dragana Badnjevac

ment connected us on many levels. Through continuous work, we improved ourselves and reached the point of establishing a joint business, a real estate agency, which is there to provide the client with a complete service, from the moment he contacts us until the realization of the legal work and even after that. Being a woman in the real estate market is a benefit because, by nature, we are capable of multitasking, we quickly adapt to new situations, and we take responsibility. Our sensibility is another asset that enables us to understand the complexity of the client’s needs, from the choice of location to the expediency of the space to aesthetics.

The real estate market is still expanding, and the competition in your business is high. Where have you positioned your niche in the broad spectrum of market potential?

— Competition implies that the market climate is very favorable, both for work and for expanding the local network at all levels in the field of real estate business. Our clients come first. Every client is offered a tailor-made service in accordance with his needs. As experienced agents, we carefully listen to our clients and carefully choose properties for them. Given the multidimensional business concept, our niche is wide-ranging, with an emphasis on properties as investments for our clients. For this reason, we focus on brokerage in the sale and lease of office buildings, luxury residential properties, and land with multiple uses. We strive to keep up with the changes in the market, monitor its potential and growth, and in turn, achieve the maximum benefit for our clients.

Brokerage is a specific and challenging profession since the real estate market never sleeps. How do you find good projects and clients today? How important is marketing, and how important is networking?

— The dynamics of the market are such that we all try to keep up with the times and quickly adapt to new business trends. Marketing is a business segment that represents a tool for creating and running a business. As such, it aims to strengthen the values that we represent so that we can reach new clients in a way that makes them aware of our professional approach. Our clients are business people with little free time, which requires us to be absolutely committed so that all stages of the work pass smoothly without wasting their time, which is the most important resource. We foster quality exchange relations with competitive companies, forming a network that represents an inexhaustible source of information and the potential for joint projects. We believe in quality relations with our associates and invest in them as much as possible, which results in the support of renowned law offices, notaries public, bankers, and business people for each of our projects.

You provide a wide range of services, from brokerage and property appraisal to investment management and the services of designers and architects. Which services are most requested by clients?

— We chose a portfolio of broad-spectrum services in order to move quickly and support each segment of the work. The dominant service is, of course, real estate brokerage, but we also note an increase in demand for side services, without which the real estate trade would not be coherent. We are aware that buying or selling property represents a major life or business decision, so we provide our clients with a safe environment and support through advisory services in the fields of investment, location selection, organization, maintenance, and aesthetics.


The Belgrade real estate market was exposed to dramatic changes on several occasions this year due to the influx of a large number of citizens of Russia and Ukraine. How did it affect your business?

— The last 15 years of business and survival in the real estate market have proven to us that all transformations in the market are possible. This increase in prices, as well as the influx of foreigners, caused a great commotion at first glance. This is merely a preview of what will occur in the upcoming business year, which will be challenging. The market is currently unpredictable because everyone anticipates the effects of the crisis. It’s very likely that the crisis will come up later and strike us just when everyone believes it has been avoided this time. Until then, the upward trend in prices will continue. Prices do not depend on loans but on cash, which is present in all business segments. The first hint of crisis will be felt in locations with office buildings; successful companies will begin to stagnate without the will to change and search for new space for their demanding workers. For now, there is continuous growth in turnover and rent. The result is an increase in prices, which is conditioned by the fluid flow of capital. The safest investment in the Balkans is real estate, not investment in business or innovation. Also, the presence of Russians and Ukrainians in our region is a result of the changes taking place in Europe. It is up to us, real estate brokers, to recognize clients who have come to settle permanently in our country compared to those who are in transit.



With more than 180 exhibitors from 20 countries, the 58th Belgrade Furniture Fair, which was held from November 8 to 13, once again proved that it is the most important and most visited event of the wood and furniture industry in the region. We present to you some of the most interesting novelties, premieres, and award-winning products

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The Belgrade Furniture Fair, which took place for the 58th time from November 8 to November 13 under the Belgrade Fair’s domes, after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, proved that we were eagerly awaiting the biggest event that brings together the best of the current offer of furniture from domestic and foreign manufacturers. Thousands of visitors had the opportunity to take a close look at numerous premieres, follow new trends in furniture design for the home or office space, and purchase desired products at significant fair discounts. At the same time, as an international gathering and communication platform, this year’s Furniture Fair in Belgrade gathered and networked a large number of business people, manufacturers, professional buyers and distributors, architects, and designers from the region and all over Europe and the world.

An exhibition of young designers was also held as part of the fair, where visitors had the opportunity to view the works of young and promising authors, faculties, and schools. A popular side program of the event was Design Talks, which brought together all participants in the furniture industry for five days. This program, through a discussion with designers, architects, creative creators, and leading people from the domains of design, art, and culture, as well as from the economy, industry, and production sectors and the public and educational sectors, focused on the

Natuzzi Sofa Sofa Zavar Design Hard Stuff

role and power that design can and should have in society.

More than 180 exhibitors from 20 countries participated in this year’s Furniture Fair in Belgrade. In addition to numerous exhibitors from Serbia and the region – Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, and North Macedonia, we also had the opportunity to see a great range of brands from Italy, Germany, Turkey, Poland, Romania, Iraq, Angola, etc.

The exceptional program of domestic exhibitors included numerous brands, such as Simpo (Vranje), Matis (Ivanjica), Sofa Sofa (a concept store from Belgrade), which performed with the Italian brand Calia Italia, Rica Furniture (with the Milly brand), and Hard Stuff, while the Bullet Furniture brand made its first appearance and showcased handcrafted pieces of furniture with a unique design.

Among the foreign participants who premiered at the fair are Moku Artisan Furniture (BiH) and Studijo Wallart (Croatia), while the quality of the Belgrade Furniture Fair was confirmed by the traditional participation of the companies Natuzzi (Italy), Nunc (Croatia), Tetri Mobilya and Vukka Home (Turkey), Mebel Jumis Design and Almero (North Macedonia), and Moj San (BiH).

Participants who stood out for their offers included the Polish manufacturer Nowy Styl, with many years of experience in furnishing office spaces all over the world; Pianno from Turkey; Forest from Serbia; and Zavar Design from North Macedonia, which manufactures stainless steel radiators and functional products that combine the latest design and technology trends, giving metal a new dimension and beauty.

At the 58th International Fair of Furniture, Equipment, and Interior Decoration, the jury decided to award the “Zlat-

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Forest Simpo Nunc Moku Sofa Sofa Sofa Sofa Jumis

ni ključ” and “Sajamski ključ” to manufacturers, exhibitors, and individuals in several categories.

The “Zlatni ključ” award, in the Residential furniture category, was awarded to the manufacturer Nunc for the “Studio Love” product. “Zlatni ključ”, in the category Furniture for fitting out buildings, was awarded to the manufacturer Moku for the product “Marina dining chair,” designed by Lidija Petričević. In the category Contribution to the development of design, “Zlatni ključ” was awarded to the manufacturer Zavar Design for the product “Corner radiator Flexus,” designed by Zoran Jedrejčić. “Zlatni ključ” in the Best young designer category was awarded to FILUM – work station for the project “Work exhibition station” by Katarina Lončarević, Jelena Ruvidić, Natalija Bogdanović and Bojana Pašajlić with students. “Zlatni ključ” in the Interior design category was awarded to the manufacturer Belgrader for the product “Sto Shishmish” by Luka Stambolić. In the category Innovative types of furniture, “Zlatni ključ” was awarded to the manufacturer Simpo for the product “Sofa Adel”.

The “Sajamski ključ” awards were given to: Matis Group, Ivanjica, for the assortment of the exhibition program, Jumis Luxury, Kočani, for the complete promotion of the production program, and Digitel, Čačak, for innovative solutions in the furniture industry.

Matis Simpo Nunc Pianno Zavar Design Nowy Styl Bullet Furniture


The hybrid way of working has become common for most companies today. This implies not only that fewer people come to offices but a hybrid office concept as well, meaning more comfort both in terms of working space and space for socializing and relaxing. Every business has its own specific needs, therefore we've listed here a few essential, general aspects of contemporary office design

Until recently, hybrid working was only used by advanced companies; now, it is accepted by the majority of businesses. We quickly embraced working from home, online and off-site meetings, and online collaboration and communication softwares. Fewer people come to offices today, so the organization and design needs of the workspace are different and more demanding. Each company is looking for its own recipe and individual approach, but few, when they decide to design their business premises, know what they need. That is why it is crucial for the project team first to get to know

the client, the way of doing business, functional and technical needs, and business culture, but also to find out sentimental and emotional references, that is, how employees feel and how they want to feel. I know from my experience that it takes several weeks for this approach to culminate in the creation of a plan with the client as the primary focus. A typical working day is directed, according to the client’s profile, from when he starts work until the end of work and when he leaves for home. Furthermore, each aspect of the space is viewed from the standpoint of use and user experience.

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TX Group BRANKO NIKOLIĆ, architect, Antipod Studio



Lighting that adjusts its intensity and temperature to the time of day and simulates natural lighting has very positive visual, biological, and emotional effects and follows the daily cycles of humans. This stimulates the productivity of work and the depth of rest dur-

ing breaks. The lighting standards that are followed in our country are generally outdated. Modern lighting requires expert assistance and high-tech equipment. It is necessary to create scenarios and direct the desired atmosphere and feelings when designing.

Sound is a very important part of the experience of staying and working in modern offices. In addition to the functional requirements for privacy in some spaces, such as specific conference rooms or focus rooms, the noise level is also part of the overall impression. Silence

is not a premise. The so-called “white noise” creates an ideal atmosphere for work, where optimal focus is achieved. Whether it is reverberations, leaks, penetration, or sound travel, we use acoustic solutions as finishing touches that are both contextual and decorative.

TX Group TX Group Nordeus Polet


A freshly made omelette for breakfast, a coffee break, a Friday afternoon cocktail... All of that is part of the working day, so the cafeteria, canteen, bar, and coffee lounge have become standard areas of work space today. These are areas for developing community spirit through private and friendly talks and less formal meetings. The impact of quality and regular nutrition on productivity and efficiency, and especially

on a good feeling related to the company, has long been scientifically proven. The culture of drinking coffee has always been important in our country. Global trends have brought that niche to its peak. Today, in some of our companies, you can taste the best coffee in the world, not to mention the ice cream. Also, the quality of water, air, and food is becoming the most important issue today, even above comfort.

Changes in the atmosphere in the workplace are proven to stimulate brain centers and improve focus and productivity, as well as rest and relaxation. Colors are more than just a decorative element; they impact our experiences and feelings and can change our emotional state. Colors fine-tune

the abstract holistic proportion of all visual and other elements, such as light, sound, smell, and temperature. Only the harmony of all elements gives the desired feeling in certain parts of the space. Colors are a powerful tool to influence the mood and well-being of the users in the space.

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Seven Bridges Polet Nordeus Nordeus


“Open space” has become a buzzword in recent years. It is not so ideal for focused work, but it brings better communication and connection between people, and at the same time, it saves the employer expensive square meters in the world’s metropolises. Locally, smaller offices are still valued by employees, although the big disadvantage is the alienation of separate groups. New practices offer us better solutions. Everything between a completely open and a

completely closed space is what we call a hybrid. Hybrids have introduced a new way of dividing spaces, including tables, and the multifunctionality of common areas. There is no universal recipe. The hybrid plan and its way of use are made according to the user’s needs. Parts of the plan remain open but are not personal; they are used by appointment: meeting rooms, booths for online meetings, spaces for casual and informal meetings, relax and leisure zones...

Today, “meeting space” is a broad term. It can be a space separated by a screen with a couple of armchairs, a “meeting booth,” a niche in the hallway wall... The classic meeting rooms also received modern equipment, but they are not necessarily rooms with a large table and chairs. Meetings have moved from halls to online platforms. The trend of mixed returns to

offices brought new challenges. At meetings today, regardless of whether you are in the office or connected from some exotic destination or the children’s room, very often an echo appears and it is not a pleasant experience. Some of the potential perspectives are virtual reality (VR) or mixed reality (MR), which is being developed by many industries, including ours.

Polet Zuhlke Zuhlke TX Group Nordeus


Lukas Werft runs a successful studio, Werft Gardens & Landscapes, in Sisak. He cooperates with clients from the entire region, but also from Canada, Qatar, Germany... He believes that landscaping is not just greening and is dedicated to raising awareness about ecology, climate transition, and sustainable solutions

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GTC office building Green Heart in New Belgrade

Professionals say that it is difficult to work on a project that has as its starting point an intervention in someone’s previous work. In the case of the landscaping of the GTC Green Heart office building in New Belgrade, signed by Lukas Werft and members of his team, this was denied in the best possible way. The green area project of the Green Heart complex, located on the busy Milutin Milanković Boulevard in New Belgrade, designed and implemented by the Werft Gardens & Landscapes studio, won the BigSEE Architecture Award last year, one of the most prestigious design awards in this part of Europe.

GTC has cooperated with the studio, founded by Lukas’ father and headed by Werft Junior since 2006, even earlier. Lukas recalls that his cooperation with Belgrade began with the task of revising the previous landscape solution.

What was your vision for the landscaping of the facility, whose contours resemble a ship?

— Instead of a mere green area with trees, we wanted to create a space that would provide an experience throughout the seasons, both for people and animals. We have implemented plant species that can withstand the climatic conditions that await us in the future, with deviations in temperature, humidity, and precipitation. It was important to us that the trees we plant will be there in 15, 25, or 50 years and that no additional energy or financial resources are needed for maintenance. Underneath the entire park is an underground garage, so the illusion of a fusion, i.e., a fusion of the architectural and natural contexts, is further emphasized. I personally

selected all the trees and plants from nurseries in the Netherlands and Belgium. Each tree is unique, like a work of art, like poetry. Some are 65 years old, 18 meters high, and eight meters wide, weighing 13 tons.

What are you working on now?

— We are active in Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Canada, mostly on projects for the gardens of private villas and penthouses. We are also working on a project for an office-residential complex in Belgrade. Also, there is a commercial-residential building in Trebević in Bosnia and Herzegovina; a master plan for a landscape solution for a marina with a commercial zone and five-star hotel with an apartment zone in Cavtat and an industrial complex park in Zaprešić, near Zagreb. In all projects, we take into account adaptation to climatic conditions. This means that we take into account the ratio of paved and green areas, the recirculation of storm water, the reduction of the number of lighting fixtures, the introduction of organic instead of chemical feeding of plants, and the like.

How much space is there for landscape architecture in the contemporary trend in which square meters seem to have primacy?

— Investor urbanism is not a new phenomenon, and it is not going away anytime soon. It is necessary to understand that awareness of the landscape is a consequence of properly articulated priorities in a society. Society, it seems, must first destroy nature in order to return to it. Only then do square footage and profit cease to be questions of concrete and become questions of quality of life, which is nature and greenery. There is always room for landscape architecture in the

LUKAS WERFT, Director and Partner, Werft Gardens and Landscapes GTC office building Green Heart

projects of investors who are building for the future and who can and want to afford it.

How much does the engagement of a landscape architect increase costs for the investor, and how much does it give in return?

— It would be very clumsy of me to answer this question, especially since all the projects are coordinated with the clients’ budgets. However, the contribution and importance of our work are spoken by the clients, who, despite all the architecture, facades, lighting, electrical, and mechanical solutions, put landscaping in the foreground.

You come to Belgrade often. Do you notice changes in the city, and what do you think of them?

— On average, I come here quarterly, and I am fascinated and shocked at the same time by the rapid development of the

city. Fascinated because I see a superb approach to architecture and high quality, and astounded because work is being done in Belgrade, as well as throughout the region, without any plan, program, strategy... Nature has one advantage over us, and that is time. Nature has no problem repeating thousands or millions of times in order to meet the mutation that will eventually form order and balance in the whole. However, society needs order. For us as individuals, as well as society and life on the planet, time is limited. Without a clearly articulated vision and strategy that leads to some higher social goal, there is no progress—there is only wasted time.

You bring nature back into the urban space; you design private gardens... In your opinion, what should a modern, humane office look like?

— I have to be honest—I have no idea! It would be very general to say that the solution lies in the introduction of greenery

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Each garden is first sketched on paper Marina Porto Montenegro An example of a private garden

into the work space. However, does this really make such a fundamental difference? On the other hand, I can imagine a scenario where greenery makes a difference. But such a space would look more like a tropical forest than an office. Let me explain. Recently, I was a member of the jury for the selection of the best office in Croatia. Many people have brought plants into their workplaces, and those plants undoubtedly have an impact on the subjective feeling and spatial arrangement. However, I do not believe that this is the meaning of “green enlightenment.” In order to have a measurable and empirically valid effect, it is necessary to form the focal point of the architectural consideration of the space around the functional green areas (and volumes) that form the basis of the office (and functional) design. With that, I’m entering the realm of science fiction, and maybe it’s best to go back to the first sentence of the answer.

What are your plans for 2023?

— We already have a full agenda. We start with projects in


Croatia and abroad. I am looking forward to the changes in the business itself, specifically the commercial part of it, where we deal with climate-friendly building materials for walking, train-automotive, and pedestrian surfaces. We will rebrand in order to broaden our commercial circle of activity in the region. We are also continuing with the reconstruction of our yard and garden area in Sisak. We are expanding the interior, almost doubling it from the current two hundred square meters, in order to ensure long-term space for employees, infrastructure, modeling, and virtual reality. We are finally converting the courtyard space into a showroom so that clients can see in person the ideas that have previously only been shown in photos. In the garden, we continue to develop “Oma’s laboratorium” (Granny’s laboratory) where we monitor different types of grasses, perennials, and herbs and record how they behave in our climate zone. We must come to grips with the increasingly common problem of data from the literature not matching the data from practice.

The family business, which initially dealt exclusively with landscaping around Sisak, was founded by Lukas’ father, Erich, in the mid-1980s, after returning from abroad. Over time, the company grew, and Lucas took over management after his father’s untimely death. Today, Werft Gardens & Landscapes is a multidisciplinary landscape architecture and design studio, specializing in the design of gardens and landscapes for luxury residential and hotel properties. The portfolio of Werft Gardens & Landscapes includes some of the most beautiful green solutions in this part of Europe: Marina Porto Montenegro in Tivat, GTC office complex Green Heart in New Belgrade, Rimac Campus near Zagreb... The studio was also involved in the project of the famous Boris Podreka’s Pical hotel complex in Poreč; they renovated the Rovinj Tobacco Factory (TDR) park; they worked on the Four Seasons resort in Hvar; they arranged the garden of the Šeherezada villa in Dubrovnik... Numerous private gardens and homesteads along the Adriatic coast, from Slovenia to the south of Montenegro, were arranged according to their designs.

Scheherazade Villa in Dubrovnik


"In the world of design, broadly speaking, some influences have always been present. We are encouraged, however, by those who do things differently, by those who offer products that last for many years. It's not all copy-and-paste," says Zoran Jedrejčić, industrial designer and art director, whose authentic design language connects numerous brands in the region

Adistinctive design language for our entire region is a concept that Zoran Jedrejčić supports and is attempting to realize. Through cooperation with the most successful manufacturers from Slovenia to North Macedonia, he provides comprehensive solutions—from development strategy, entering the market, communication with consumers, to the end product. “When we see Italian, Japanese, or Danish design, we can, more or less, immediately recognize that something is from Italy, Japan, or Denmark. The design from our region is also easily recognizable. The only issue is that it isn’t well articulated or conveyed. It will take time and perseverance to accomplish this, perhaps even fifty years or more. The Danes did it that way, and they still do. Design is intertwined with the culture of a place; it needs solid strategies, which we lack here,” says the internationally renowned industrial designer and art director.

He began his design studies in Zagreb, where he had moved from his native Split. He graduated from ISIA-Industrial Design in Florence. He finished his master’s degree in Germany, returned

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to Italy, and worked with Ettore Sottsass for seven years. After that, he opens a studio in Milan. He designed for brands such as Artisan, 3M, Dada Cucine, Fratelli Guzzini, etc. Ten years ago, because of love, he moved to Belgrade.

He won numerous awards, from the Red Dot Design Award “Best of the Best” (2003) to the BIG SEE Visionary (2021). He exhibited in museums and galleries all over the world: in Vienna, Italy, at MoMA in New York, at the ICA in Boston, and in Tokyo.

We had a conversation on one of the first days of this year’s Belgrade Furniture Fair, of which he was the art director for many years. He was involved in the redesign of the event and the gathering of the best producers. “In 2015, we started promoting regional design and managed to bring all the best manufacturers and designers to one place. In this region of Europe, Belgrade Furniture Fair is one of the finest events. This year’s fair is narrower in scope, but it is still the most important review,” sums up Jedrejčić.

What are you currently working on?

— This year, the development of the Banja Luka-based Volumen brand was the main focus. The factory has

been working for 25 years in the lower segment, and they want to step up to the level of the designer-oriented market. Together with associates from graphic and marketing studios, we handle it entirely. We set the entire development strategy, from communication, presentation, and the website to the new products. We designed seven lines with 50 products for them. We also work with the company Zavar from North Macedonia. We made smart radiators for them, which are exhibited at the fair. We design products for industry in small or large series.

You cooperate with clients from the ex-Yu area. Are there companies or individuals whose solutions in 50 years will leave a mark on the world map like, for example, the Iskra telephone from the 1970s? — There is potential, of course, but drawing a parallel is difficult. In the past, the standards were strong. There were conditions for a design that had a direction and a language. The center was in Belgrade. You had support everywhere: in museums, media, industry, and the state. Now there is a lack of unity, a lack of a system. The potential lies in our good production culture, which is used, for example, by the Danes. You may not know, but the furniture of almost all high-quality Danish brands is produced in Bosnia. Large global producers have segments of their production in Croatia and Serbia. The pioneers of design appeared here after the Second World War and not only worked


practically, but also built a design culture, a culture of housing. Today, the potential lies with the phenomenal producers whose goal is the world market and who deserve to be on it. The gap is in design thinking.

What local brands do you want to highlight for us?

— From Slovenia: Intra Lighting, Vertigo Bird, Rex Kralj. From Croatia: Prostoria, NUNC, Metoda, Milla&Milli. From Serbia: Gir, Garda, Hookl und Stool, BUCK. From Bosnia and Herzegovina: Artisan, Zanat, Gazzda, Woak, Goes. From North Macedonia – Zavar.

What aggravating circumstances do you see at the local level?

— We differ in cultures, religions, and habits, but we have a common, I dare say, Balkan way of thinking and expressing ourselves through products. That is our advantage. As the Italians would say, we are “macedonia”, which in translation is a mixed salad of different fruits. With the breakup of Yugoslavia, however, everyone wanted to have their own design language. Croats to find and leave traces of Croatian design, Slovenes of Slovenian design, and Serbs of Serbian design. So it is diffused. Though it is usually easier to shape the de-

sign language of a region than of a country.

You are the winner of the BIG SEE Visionary Award. The explanation was: “He motivates and encourages manufacturers to find passion and do their best.” What qualities lack domestic brands?

— Making one or two products basically means nothing. If you want to position yourself in a higher niche in the market, a whole strategy is required. That’s why I took on a significantly more extensive and responsible job as an art director, not just a designer.

Is authenticity even possible in today’s copy-and-paste culture?

— There is definitely room for unique solutions, talents, and new ideas. I’m not that pessimistic. In the world of design, broadly speaking, some influences have always been present. In addition, there is a rising transfer of techniques from other sectors, such as the fashion industry. Now you have seasonal collections in design as well, which results in overproduction. We are encouraged, however, by those who do things differently, by those who offer products that last for many years, the value of which increases with the patina of time. It’s not all copy-and-paste. Personally, I see design as a form of not only revolution but also evolution.

What did you enjoy doing and what did you do because you “had to” throughout your large body of work, and what do you hope to do in the future?

— Fortunately, I have the opportunity to work with quality manufacturers. I didn’t have to make compromises that I would be ashamed of. The annual capacity is two to three new clients and a certain number of permanent ones. I have no unfulfilled wishes. I take a professional approach to everything and strive to make the most of it. When choosing, I take great care that my clients are “likeable” and progressive. Their desire for change is important to me. I have no favorites, and my

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Goccia set

favorite job will always be the next one. The problem with our manufacturers is that they work in one segment for 10, 20, or 30 years. The hardest thing to do is to change your way of thinking. I must thus start with the psychological questions and go on to the design ones.

You gave lectures in Italy at the Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti (NABA) and in Serbia at the Academy of Fine Arts. What is the difference between students from these two countries?

— I no longer teach, unfortunately. I do not have time. It is not possible to do several things at the same time with the same quality. I am still often approached by students and young designers for advice. I enjoy having them around me. I still think like a 20-year-old, even though I can see that I’m not. I try to stay young, at least in my thinking. The difference between students in Italy and students in Serbia is in their perception of design. Young people here think that “design” is some super-communicative word and that it will be a “cool” job, which boils down to the statement “I’m a creative type.” Well, it’s not! They lag a little behind their Italian peers there. This is hard work with many sacrifices in order to get results. In Italy, the approach is different. We’re a little more casual, which doesn’t mean there’s no talent. We lack motivation sometimes, and we would like to get everything done in the short term. It doesn’t work that way. Let me demystify: the designer first needs to reach the industry. These are factories with 100, 200, 500, or 600 employees. It is your responsibility to give or not give a job to those people. If you make bad decisions, you endanger the company. Besides that, you have to know a number of fields and speak different languages: the language of marketing, the language of technology, and the language of economics, in order to communicate with different people and come up with a good product.

From Split, via Florence and Milan, here you are in Belgrade. How stimulating is this city for a designer?

— Both urbanization and concretization can be done in various ways. Unfortunately, there is a lack of public spaces that contribute to people’s quality of life. We need to work on that. One more tree, one more smile. I think that Belgrade is a multi-layered city. Belgrade is a hundred cities in one, and that makes it beautiful. Friends who come to me from abroad always tell me that they feel the difference; they are delighted with the city vibe and the atmosphere. However, the city is primarily made up of people who live there. I also like to say that Belgrade is not the most beautiful city in the world, but it is a city with the most beautiful character. It is like a guy that nobody considers pretty and compares to the cover model, but everyone agrees that he is a cool guy with manners and attitude.

How would you define your own design style?

— I don’t like definitions. Style is less important; my emotions are my guide. I want people to react to my products. The tactile and emotional experience of the product is more important to me. I work with a lot of love, so I hope that this love is recognized and the products become a part of someone’s life.

Jackie’O Armada Mondum

The radical transformation of the iconic Italian-style bar DG MARTINI, born in 2003 from the collaboration between Martini and Dolce & Gabbana, didn’t affect its originality, which successfully combines tradition and modernity in full Made in Italy style. Set in the historic 16th-century building at Corso Venezia in Milan, from the outside the bar remains in dialogue with the architectural features of the existing building, but its interior has been modernly redesigned. The large entrance portals with tubular elements in red painted steel and Martini and DG logos recall great works of contemporary art and give a hint of what to expect inside the bar, where large bar counters in Nero Assoluto marble, illuminated Murano glass walls, furnishing elements and accessories from the Dolce & Gabbana Casa Collection, and Mediterranean lemon trees dominate. Some things, however, should not be changed, as the new menu, entirely dedicated to traditional Italian cuisine and signature cocktails, attests..



able in five

ivory or

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Giorgio Armani presents Giorgio Armani 11, the new series of watches for men and women that pays tribute to the street number of the brand’s historic headquarters on Via Borgonuovo in Milan. Brought to life through a partnership with high-end Swiss watchmaking maison Parmigiani Fleurier, the new collection of elegant Giorgio Armani timepieces is based on a personal idea of luxury, in which craftsmanship and a focus on form and material convey a sense of timeless elegance. Watches are made in three different materials and avail- variants: steel with a grey or blue dial, rose gold with an grey dial, and yellow gold with a black dial, all combined with leather straps. One special detail on the dial, besides the traditional Armani logo, features only the number 11 written in Arabic numerals. Photos:


This holiday season, Carolina Herrera’s legendary Good Girl heel, as well as its no less famous men’s Bad Boy lightning variant, come in a new, Gold Fantasy edition. The perfumes will come in gold-plated limited edition bottles, while the women’s perfume will also feature a touch of glitter for some extra sparkle. With its contrasting blend of ingredients that are both sweet and sensual, Good Girl represents the fascinating duality of the modern woman, while Bad Boy Gold Fantasy is the personification of the ultimate modern man— vulnerable and strong.


Every year, the iconic jewelry brand Tiffany & Co. traditionally publishes the Blue Book, presenting its latest collections. BOTANICA: Blue Book 2022 honors the timeless beauty of flora, especially Wisteria’s dramatic and breathtaking palette of blue and purple hues that dominate this year’s collection. Revisiting botanical motifs from Tiffany’s heritage, from brooches to hair ornaments, the final result of BOTANICA: Blue Book 2022 is an impressive garden made of unique jewelry.



”Fashion is art” was the motto of the 50th anniversary Belgrade Fashion Week, held for three weeks from November 8 to December 1. Organized by Fashion Studio Click, with the exclusive partnership of L’Oreal Paris, numerous shows and accompanying events were held at several attractive locations, such as Belexpocentar, National Theater, Dorćol Platz and city galleries – Silos, Štab and Haos. The first Fashion Week in Eastern Europe and the most important Serbian fashion event once again provided a stage for numerous Serbian fashion designers. Around 80 famous fashion names, from legends like Dragana Ognjenović, who opened the first edition of Fashion Week, to Doda Komad, renowned professor at FPU, Boško Jakovljević and his attractive

men’s fashion, to great designers from the Belgrade Design District, and many others, confirmed that the Serbian fashion scene keeps up with the world’s most significant fashion trends and current topics such as sustainable fashion, the circular economy, and women’s emancipation.

However, the strongest emotions on L’Oreal Fashion Week, both among the audience and the participants, were evoked by the promotion of our cultural heritage through a tribute show dedicated to the former first lady, Jovanka Broz, as well as by cultivating the cultural memory through great names such as Professor Andjelka Slijepčević, founder of the department for Contemporary clothing, designers Aleksandar Joksimović and Mirjana Marić, but also the diva of Serbian cinema, Milena Dravić.

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Photo: Ana Ljubinković Ninamilan Roksanda Ilinčić Verica Rakočević Vlada Savić Budislava Dragana Ognjenović Mihano Momosa


This holiday season, French luxury fashion house Dior has transformed Harrods, the most famous London shopping mall, into a giant glittering gingerbread house. ‘The Fabulous World of Dior’ takeover runs until January 3, 2023, and celebrates Monsieur Christian Dior’s love of British elegance and the fashion house’s ongoing partnership with the luxury department store. The festive magic is displayed across the 44 window installations. The Christmas collaboration also marks the largest luxury brand takeover of Harrods.

From the outside, the façade is illuminated by numerous lightings, while the inside highlights include the classic Dior references, such as a cult CD sign, this time showcased against a backdrop of gingerbread, with mouldings and details sculpted in sugar and caramel. Inside the British shopping mall’s elegant tearoom, completed with iconic Dior toile de Jouy theme, you can also eat gingerbread in the shape of the Dior Bar jacket and the Lady Dior bag.

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Photos: Dior by Adrien Dirand
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