The Beton Hala Waterfront Center is conceived as a large urban gesture rather than a singular building; it is envisioned as a continuation- extension of the existing networks of the city, an interstitial public space, where culture, commerce and history are brought together.
Beton Hala Waterfront Center
Dimitris Zoupas, Architect
George Koufakis, Architect
Io Carydi, Landscape Architect
As it has been very acurately set forth by the competition brief its prominent location and simultaneously its vicinity to two of the most iconic landmarks of Belgrade, the Beton Hala Building and the Belgrade Fortress, pose the difficulty of a design that introduces a new distinctive architectural identity while at the same time being carefully integrated in its urban surroundings. In our attempt to emphasize the urban dimension of the project the new Center is bold in its scale of intervention; on the other hand, to address the problem of integration to the existing fabric and to avoid interfering with the iconic historical skyline of the area, the decision was made to retain a low height and an overall homogenous expression. The design attempts simultaneously a twofold appearance; a ‘disappearance’ into the natural landscape, a continuation of the Kalamegdan park, when seen from above and a stimulating new architectural proposition when viewed from the river and from inside.
The new Waterfront Center is founded on and generated through the existing traces of the area; the footprint and the curvature of the Beton Hala building and the train tunnel, the tram line, which is kept in its former route but elevated to avoid interference with the traffic, and the current paths from the Kalamegdan Hill which, joined with the interior circulation of the building, generate the new pedestrian network of the site. In addition and in parallel to the new pedestrian routes, bike trails are designed and connected to the existing bike network of the city. The traffic is preserved to its current arrangement with minor interventions to facilitate the entrance and exit to the underground parking area. The elevation of the tram and the pedestrian- bike routes from the street level is one of the key components of our solution and achieves the smooth, uninterrupted connection between the city and the new Center.
The building is assembled as two discrete functional entities, the commercial and the exhibition areas, connected however through a network of interior corridors, large open spaces and patios. The plan itself is organized in a fluid and open-ended way, such that it allows flexibility in its arrangement and potential use. The interior is conceived as a ‘programmatic landscape’ rather than a sum of discrete and over-specified functional units. The different parts are then unified into a whole through the introduction of a flat roof which matches the roof of the Beton Hala Building; while the latter is turned into a waterfront promenade, a balcony for the city, the former becomes a large green space, a park joined with the network of green spaces of the city. Both the surface of the park and the surface of the Beton Hala roof have been in purpose left with minor design interventions; in the same manner with the interior organization an open-endness in the function of these spaces is desirable. Connections from the level of the new Waterfront Center to the level of the Beton Hala are achieved through three vertical cores inserted along the length of the Beton Hala building. In conclusion, the parking is arranged in two levels underground, while a mezzanine serves for purposes of storage and technical support.
The construction of the building is a combination of concrete slabs and metal pillars, while in specific areas the construction is conceived as a concrete structural frame to set the plan free of the need for vertical support. In terms of materials, glass is used extensively for the purpose of interior walls, concrete floors are suggested for the interior of the Center, while wooden deck is proposed for the coverage of the Beton Hala roof. The roof of the new Center is covered by endemic tree species planted at strategical positions. As part of the sustainable strategy a water management system is incorporated in the roof and building structure.