Source: eKapija | Wednesday, 27.12.2017.| 09:31

From ruin to ecological oasis – Stattwerk selects winners of competition for eco-center in Zeleni Venac

First-prize solution by Living Future Green studio
When the former Beobanka building in Zeleni Venac got a new owner a little over a year ago, it became more likely that this once representative facility would finally find its purpose.

Those hopes were further amplified by the announcements made by the new owner, the German company Stattwerk, that the Serbian capital might get its first green skyscraper in this location.

To this end, Stattwerk opened a survey contest for a conceptual design of the future eco-center and invited local architects and their student-colleagues to present their solutions for the future look of the skyscraper in Zeleni Venac. A total of 65 solutions were sent, and the jury, consisting of university professors, architects and experts fro sustainable energy sources, had a difficult task choosing the best works, the company says.

Alfredo Penafiel, president of the jury, said that “there are not many good opportunities for architects nowadays, especially opportunities such as working on innovative projects like the Stattwerk Green Skyscraper.

– Examining the works, I felt the energy of people looking to make a change, which is very important. On the one hand, there's a perfect location, on the other one, inspired people – this is a remarkable opportunity – Penafiel says.

In the category of architects, the project by the Living Future Green studio won first prize, whereas, among students' works, the solution by a team from the Faculty of Architecture in Belgrade, consisting of Tina Urosevic, Stevan Simonovic and Uros Markovic, was pronounced the best one.

For the architect Jovan Mitrovic, the author of the first-prize solution, the project also has a symbolic significance. As a young architect, he picked up his first paycheck in the former Beobanka building in Zeleni Venac 36 years ago.

Mitrovic says for eKapija that the solution of Living Future Green expands the idea of a green skyscraper to include all the elements of the facility, and not just the facade.

– That's why we've planned interior, as well as exterior, greenery, photovoltaic glass panels, an organic restaurant with a vegetable greenhouse, a waste recycling system, a mechanical garage with 500 spaces... This building might be up to 70-80% energy efficient with the usage of renewable energy sources.

Budimir Sudimac, jury member and professor at the Faculty of Architecture, says that facilities which not only reduce the consumption of energy, but produce it as well, will need to be built in the future and adds that it is very important for Belgrade and Serbia to catch up with this trend.

– In order for this to happen, education on the need to reduce the consumption of energy needs to expand on all levels, but a systemic support through which the state would help have such projects realized, as they will soon become our obligation, is also needed.

Furthermore, Sudimac says, buildings such as the one Stattwerk plans to build already exist in Milan, Madrid, Vienna... and have become true tourist attractions of these cities.

Green facade model
As Sara Petrovic, an architect at Stattwerk, says for eKapija, the plan is for the conceptual design for the future Balkans eco-center in Zeleni Venac, into which some of the solutions from the said contest are to be built in, to be presented in early 2018. She adds that more should be known about the deadlines and the cost of the construction then.

When it comes to the current state of the building, our interviewee says that it is surprisingly good seeing how it has been neglected for years.

– Energoprojekt, which raised this building several decades ago, was generous with the material and the structure is remarkably well-preserved – Petrovic says and adds that certain construction works on the structure itself will still be required, so that the building would meet the current seismic regulations.

Stattwerk has many years of experience in designing and reconstructing building, as well as in the field of green, energy efficient architecture. Still, Petrovic says, this sort of pioneering and all-encompassing project will also be “a step forward and a kind of experiment for future green construction” for the company as well.

Stattwerk has already found a purpose for the facility.

– The Balkans eco-center will feature commercial space meant exclusively for environmentally-oriented companies, an eco-hub, an educational area, an area for presentation of new technologies and activities of young innovators and eco-startups, a lookout, restaurants, an apartment hotel, as well as garage space.

Milos Vlahovic
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