Although the excellent geographic position of our capital city and the potentials that the Danube river offers are often mentioned in the public, hardly anyone knows, except for expert public, that Belgrade may get another "sea", twice as big as Ada Ciganlija and six times larger than Big War Island, in the near future.
Namely, the General Land-Utilization Plan of Belgrade prior to 2021 includes a new island on the Danube, which would be created through construction of a large canal between the Military Garden and the Pančevo bridge. At the precious space of 582 ha, with the maximum preservation of all natural wealth, future construction of tourist-sports facilities is carefully conceived in the way to make them functional during the whole year. Also, construction of the junction that would provide the connection with the Zrenjanin road and future "Chinese bridge" is in the pipeline, as well as construction of a pier for passenger ships, yachts and boats. The other side of the embankment, in the area between Kotež and Borča, at the surface of about 100 ha, will represent the borders of future, elite golf courses.
The team of the City Planning Institute of Belgrade is working for several years on the concept of Čaplja (Heron), which is the name of the future Ada (river island) on Banat's side of the confluence, and that project, as architect Miodrag Freneček explains for "eKapija", is one of the most subtle and the most demanding future investments in the capital city.
The land of the future pearl of Belgrade is owned by "Srbijašume", and it is currently used for scientific purposes, growing of poplars and wood processing, as well as paper production.
According to the words of Mr. Ferenček, the main initiator and organizer of the "Čaplja" project will be the city of Belgrade, which will soon define optimal concepts of financing, ownership statuses, concessions, lease, that is, necessary public-private partnership (PPP) for every zone and activity.
- Project "Čaplja" was included and defined in the General Land-Utilization Plan in 2003, and the current concept is the result of long-term and successful cooperation between the city planning experts from the province of Toscana, the city of Florence in particular, and their counterparts from the City Planning Institute of Belgrade. The cooperation was started through the "City to City" project within the scope of international cooperation between Italian Government and UNOPS (the UN Office for Project Services) on one side and the city of Belgrade on the other side, according to the Protocol that was signed in June 2001 - Mr. Ferenček explained.
Future Looks of "Čaplja"
The edges of the new island are defined by two main wholes - flood embankments before the settlements Krnjača, Kotež, Borča and Crvenka, and the main flow of the Danube. Between them, large river foreland with the mixed space of nature, forest, small canals, lakes, ponds and river branches at about 120 ha of water surface is creating a large green arch and a chord-closed segment, which is facing the confluence and the city. Three forest roads are cutting the embankment from the direction of the settlements of Krnjača, Borča and Crvenka. The first two are leading to today's improvised storage space for gravel and the separation unit on the Danube's bank, while the third road ends in the settlement with individual weekend cottages.
The parking lot will be built next to the embankment, while the access to island will be allowed to pedestrians, bikers, special vehicles for internal group transportation, as well as vessels with rows and sails.
- Large junction will be situated next to the embankment from the side of the land. The swamp zone behind the embankment is made of small pools that will remain backwater. They are mutually connected, but there will be no activities on them because they represent fish ponds for fishing at the certain time of the year. There will be a long artificial canal for recreation, sailing and rowing next to that zone, and its role will also be to drain the water from the Pančevo fan. That canal will not be directly connected to the small lakes - Mr. Ferenček explains.
According to the words of Mr. Ferenček, the canal will have both upstream and downstream connections, and the access from the water and the access from the land will join at two points on the bank of new Ada. That is where, surrounded by greenery and water, "tourist villages" will be situated, as well as small ports, fun and sports points with accommodation units, fitness and training halls, large number of outdoor sports fields, squares, marinas, premises for cultural manifestations and other active educational and entertaining contents.
New Lakes and "Sea" Beaches
- Construction of five so-called "villages", which are not typical, is in the pipeline, and our opinion is that it would be good for them to be designed by different investors and architects. "Čaplja" will also comprise two internal lakes, which we expect to be used for both recreation activities, just like on Ada Ciganlija, and limited construction of houses, lake dwellings and floating restaurants. On the higher ground, alongside the bank of the Danube, organized swimming pools up to few hundred meters long will be formed – real "sea" beaches for large number of swimmers.
Motor boats and other motor vehicles will be free to approach Ada only at certain time and under certain conditions.
Elite Sports-Recreation Zone
In the background, outside the limits of new Ada, between Crvenka, Kotež and Borča, the General Plan anticipates construction of another big sports-recreation zone, which should be the gathering place of traditional elite clubs that require vast and natural space (yachting club, jockey club, polo club, hunting club, golf club, tennis club, etc.).
- If we are to choose between elite and massive tourism, the priority will be given to massive tourism, but the aim is that both eliteness and massiveness be organized in a harmonious way.
The "Čaplja" Project Development Team
Italian part of the "Čaplja" project development team includes architects Pierra Moscato, the coordinator, and Giovanni Ruffini, the executive project manager, while Serbian part of the team was led, on behalf of the City Planning Institute of Belgrade, by architect Antonije Antić, the CEO of the Institute at the time, MA and architect Miodrag Ferenčak, the project manager, and architect Emil Dimitrov, the city planner. On behalf of the municipality of Florence and the University in Florence, the presentation was appraised by architect Gianni Biagi, a member of the City Council, and professor architect Raffaele Paloscia.