New Belgrade is a city of our times, a city which was invented and planned in the course of the 20th century with a decisive modernist perspective. Soleil (sun), Verdure (greenery), Espace (space) as well as functional segregation together with the rules of CIAM where main arguments of New Belgrade. Now, 60 years later, how do we read New Belgrade and how do we want to continue ist construction? We decided for a few very simple spatial tools, all of them being in close discourse with the principles of modernism.
Firstly, we are opting for an elevated city detached from the ground. Only pillars and elements of circulation shall touch on the ground. We are proposing a floating city, very much following the principles of modern architecture, buildings on pilotis giving the entire ground free.
Secondly, the entire site is usable and accessible by everybody. Buildings do not block vision and movement. The terrain will be occupied with a multitude of different vegetations, exotic and local plants, waterlines, bike routes, jogging path.
The functional segregation of the modernist movement is replaced by the complexity of simultaneities. Below ground a slab of parking and serving functions. The ground level is covered by a variety of vegetations and allows for a city of pedestrians. 65% of the site are green and allmost all of the ground level allows for free vision.
A high density of programme is possible. As model of reference we propose the Jussieu Campus of Sorbonne in Paris. The Jussieu campus is composed of a grid of courtyards each measuring 33m x 48m and the entire block is elevated giving free a ground floor zone of approx. 5m hight. Thus all the spaces of the different courtyards are interconnected and a spatial flow between the courtyards is produced. The basic measurement of 33m x 48m of the Jussieu Campus is adopted for Blok 39 in Belgrade.
The urban programme for Blok 39 forsees a ground zone of 6m height to be kept free. Space shall flow from the frame of one courtyard to the other. To highten the flow of spaces the bottom view is sligthly ondulating, consequently producing a strong plasticity of spaces and a variety of unexpected courtyard profiles.
The (CFPOS) Center for Promotion of Sciences in Belgrade is detached from the ground. Following the urban concept it is a building floating high above the ground. It operates on 3 levels. Firstly, on the level of the City of Belgrade it will be an optimistic sign positioned on one of the main routes of the city . Secondly for Blok 39 it will be sign, canopy and portico. Thirdly, as a building being programmed to promote sciences it (dis)plays on visions of technology and construction. The architectural language of the center will strongly be one of technology and the display of structural principles. All exterior surfaces are of simple character. A special role is given to the underside of the center, it will have mirroring qualities, able to reflect all the movement on the ground as well as the visitor who by entering the center is penetrating the reflections of the earths surface.
Ted Sandstra: Ambitious Plans for a New Belgrade
In: 2011 COMPETITIONS Annual.
G. Stanley Collyer (ed.) with contributions by William Morgan, Ted Sandstra, and Eric Goldemberg
Louisville: The Competition Project, Inc., 2012.
In the process of reinventing itself, the Serbian capital Belgrade, once the political center of Yugoslavia before its dissolution into a number of smaller nation states, is steering away from its obsession with its nationalist past, and, with its application for entry into the European Community, is promoting cultural as well as economic progress as its top priorities. As part of this new direction the City staged recent competitions for two citiy projects, bringing attention to the needs of Belgrade as a large city that not only continues to grow, but is soliciting ideas that speak to a civic and national identity that is intended to redefine significant historical locales within its geography. Thus, in the tradition of the Grande Projects, the Serbian administration announced competitions for a Center for the Promotion of Science; and also the Hala Beton Waterfront Centre 2011 and Kalemegdan Park on the Danube, the former located in Block 39 of the New Belgrade plan, the latter located just across the Sava River from it.
New Belgrade was originally designed in the 1950s as the connective tissue between two cities – Belgrade to the east and Zemun to the west. Belgrade was the furthest point west of the Ottoman Empire while Zemun represented the Austrian-Hungarian empire to the west. By finding a way to bind these two cities with a new, modern housing district, Tito’s regime intended to indicate a direction forward for a nascent nation.
Why the city regarded a new Centre for the Promotion of Science, as one of its top priorities for an international competition, is clear from the competition brief:
“Science Centers inspire curiosity and support learning about science from early ages. In the area of knowledge-based societies a modern science centre can play a central role in dissemination of scientific culture and the strengthening of research, not only for young generations, but also for adults.”
There can be little doubt that an eye-catching design was what the city was after, and the winning design by the Austrian architect, Wolfgang Tschapeller, certainly fulfilled that requirement.
The Centre for the Promotion of Science
Wolfgang Tschapeller ZT GmbH Architekten
By locating the program above the street with remarkable structural simplicity and clarity, one can surmise that this approach caught the attention of the jury over other, less successful attempts to reach for height and visibility in an urban landscape dedicated to the automobile. Elevating the program also frees up space for the development of additional amenities for pedestrians at street level. Raising the exhibition area above the ground plane, according to the author, follows the principles of the Athens Charter as set out by CIAM (International Congress of Modern Architecture). This ties the design to the history of the site, which was conceived at a time when the Athens Charter held sway over urban planning. The competition brief stated:
“At that time, futuristic urban planning was carried out, with a clear orthogonal street system, wide boulevards, fast traffic, open and half open blocks with macro and micro ambiences and appropriate following content, green zones and good environmental qualities.”
Once one ascends up to the main level, the remainder of the design possesses a functional and very restrained distribution of the program. The shell of the building clearly delineates the architecture’s internal features: the hemispherical planetarium, tubes describing vertical circulation, raked seating for the auditorium and a large, unbroken box for a highly flexible exhibition space. This rational utilization of space is consistent throughout the structural solution as the author outlines the use of void forms in the concrete slab to reduce deadweight. Although there is a reward in the ever-improving view over New Belgrade as the visitor ascends the ramps and moves into the underside of this spaceship, the unsheltered vertical circulation path would seem to demand some endurance of the user in inclement weather. Perhaps some enclosure (similar to the Pompidou?) will be developed in order to protect visitors from the winter wind.
The criteria for the jury’s evaluation of the winner are clear from its concluding statement:
“Yet even as the building’s form appears radical, the construction is simple, straightforward, well-considered and well-calculated. The Jury has come to the conclusion that this project precisely fits both the requirements, and aspirations, for the proposed institution, as well as for the city in which it will provide a new, welcome landmark.”