(Center on the Water)
For the citizens of Belgrade, it will be a new place to walk, shop and have fun, while the visitors of the capital will find it a new experience and a quicker way to come from the river to Knez Mihailova street. The bridge, connecting the Sava port and Kalemegdan fortress, is designed as a promenade, as well as a commercial space with stores, galleries and museums. This pedestrian link should connect Balkanska and Skadarska streets, of which main characteristic are cobblestones and numerous stores and coffee shops. The bridge is part of a preliminary design authored by Belgrade-based ARCVS, which shared the first prize with the Japanese architects at an international competition for the Center on the Water project design, the aim of which was to find the best solution for the reconstruction of Beton Hala (Concrete Hall).
How ARCVS plans to connect the port and the Kalemegdan park is explained for eKapija by Branislav Redzic, an architect and the team leader.
- The location of Beton Hala is very precious. Fascinated by that space, we were watching the life on the river. There is an international river transport system that leaves the visitors of Belgrade near the building of the Port Authority, in an area that does not have the attributes of a city square, and that is the first contact that these people make with Belgrade. Also, Kalemegdan fortress is one of the first things Belgrade is associated with. That space is insufficiently exploited, it does not have the status it deserves, and one of the reasons for that is a poor connection with the river banks. We came to an idea to connect the river and the park in an adequate manner – Redzic explains.
As he says, the team of ARCVS is primarily focused on the concept, and not on the design itself.
They wanted people to be able to see the panorama of Belgrade, bridges and the Kalemegdan fortress from any point within the complex.
The visitors would be able to come from the roof of Beton Hala to the Kalemegdan park by walking through a covered street or on its roof. The street would be 300 meters long and 24 meters wide, while the ceiling would be about 7 meters high.
- Our people do not spend time at the places burdened by design. People here sit at the place where they can communicate, where they can see and be seen. The Pavilion ramp, that is, an 11,000-square-meter indoor space, which connects the bank with the park, is determined by two "parallel streams". There is a museum and an exhibition space on one side, spanning 6,000 square meters, and commercial contents on the other side, occupying an area of 5,000 square meters. That is where stores and coffee shops would be situated. These parallel streams are connected in several places by green yards – Redzic explains.
Although the bridge is supposed to be located in the vicinity of the tram terminus, there is no need for moving the railway tracks, which makes the project implementation significantly easier. The tram route is preserved as an explicit ambient and functional value.The current look of Beton Hala would not be changed, while three elevators and a stairway should serve as links between its roof and the port.
Two underground garages spanning about 25,000 square meters, with 800 parking spaces for cars and 18 for buses, are situated behind Beton Hala, between the railway tunnel and Tadeusa Koscuska street.
If tourists decide to stay longer by the river, they will be able to take a rest on the roof of Beton Hala, surrounded by greenery and flowers, and to visit a pavilion that could be used as a museum, a home of the city philharmonic orchestra, or an office space.
When asked if it is possible to build a bridge on the Sava in that area upon the implementation of this project, Redzic says that the bridge in that location would not be a good solution because of the vicinity of the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers.ARCVS has designed a solution that does not envisage relocation of the Railway Station. Our interlocutor does not believe that anything will be done with the relocation of railways within next ten years because the procedure is complicated and requires much money.
The solution that shares the first prize with the ARCVS team's design is a project by architect Sou Fujimoto from Japan. He has designed a concept that he named "Cloud". Namely, according to his idea, people would use a circular promenade, similar to toboggans, to descend from Kalemegdan to Beton Hala.
- The Japanese bureau had the same purpose. Fujimoto is coming to Belgrade in early August to talk with us so we could decide what is the best for Belgrade. We have a support from City Architect Dejan Vasovic. After that, once we find a compromise, the Plan of Detailed Regulation for Kosancicev Venac should be amended, and then the project implementation can commence.
Construction of all facilities envisaged by the ARCVS' preliminary design would cost about EUR 25 million, and the "river gate" could be opened in minimum four years.S.O.