With this proposal for the Waterfront Center complex three public urban levels are established: (1)Beton hala, (2)the Beach and (3)the Esplanade, each with a unique character and ambience. The Esplanade is first and foremost a circulation plateau. Trajectories of movement on the Esplanade act as an extension of Kalemegdan’s winding paths down to the river, while its character of an abstract, contemplative, free and open space relates to the atmosphere of New Belgrade. On the roof of Beton Hala, the sandy surface and sunbathing deck create a fresh space for Belgrade’s city center to offer - an urban beach, a free and public leisure and recreation space. The Fortress is visible and accessible through the multi-storey car park. Underneath it, the existing level of the riverbank promenade and Beton Hala keeps its current character with the pedestrian and bicycle path and the “stage” in front of the bars, restaurants and shops housed inside.
These levels interconnect with a variety of lateral communications: escalators, elevators and stairs – strategically positioned in relation to the program and people’s trajectories. The promenade in front of Beton Hala connects to the city’s passenger port, and the other recreational areas along the rivers. The Beach connects to the multi-storey car park and the level of Karadjordjeva Street. The Esplanade bridges over heavy freight traffic and establishes a new, accessible connection to the Kalemegdan Park. The Esplanade is also where the entrances to the Waterfront Center and its 8600 m2 of program occur.
New paths are designed on the slope of Kalemegdan Park, that continue the atmosphere and organic trajectories of the existing ones. Lights are added to make the paths safer and accessible and create a more fluid visual and physical connection to the newly established Esplanade. It is expected that this direction will be the most frequented pedestrian access to the Waterfront Center, but its qualities should remain in accordance with the ambience of the Kalemegdan Park and Fortress as a whole.
The Esplanade level consists of a series of interwoven boxes. The boxes are all the same dimension, but different heights according to usage inside. They are positioned and connected in such a manner as to allow for a functional interior organization, continuous movement on the Esplanade, and light and vista penetrations through the structure. They create the dynamic form of the building seen from all sides. Permeability and lightness are main characteristics of the building’s form and materialization.
The scale and fragmented character of the Waterfront Center mediate between the dense, fragmented city fabric adjacent to the location, and the long horizontal structure of Beton hala. This contextual duality is present in the building itself: views from the river reveal a horizontal plinth for the greenery of the fortress and the hills of the city, establishing an additional horizontal layer in the city’s skyline. A look from Kalemegdan shows a fragmented structure that allows permeability and vistas through and within the building. The life of the Waterfront center is visible on top and underneath its roofs.
The Esplanade is an inviting urban space, sunny, abstract and flexible. It creates a contemplative platform that connects to the quiet atmosphere of the park and the bustling space of the Urban Beach. The slight differences in levels between the boxes make the surface uneven and the movement along it more interesting. They also allow for seating and creation of smaller ambiences. The Sculpture Garden on this level is isolated and can only be accessed through the exhibition space.
Boxes oriented towards the river offer large balconies and vistas to the Beach below, the bridges on Sava River and New Belgrade on the other side. The size of these terraces varies, based on the program inside the box. These are semi-public spaces intended for restaurant gardens, sunbathing terraces, lunch and coffee breaks, and open-air covered exhibitions. The proposal enables equal capacity of usage in different seasons with the interconnection between interior and exterior spaces.
The roof of Beton hala is transformed into an urban beach. The beach is organized in three bands: (1) sandy beach, (2) wooden deck, and (3) green dunes. It is accessed from the river embankment level and the existing Beton hala through elevator and escalators inserted into the existing structure. These circulation cores come out to the beach in the wooden deck zone that also contains beach bars, ice-cream and soda stands, and similar programmatic features. The sandy beach zone is reserved for sunbathing, relaxing or recreation. The green dunes zone acts as the buffer between the beach as leisure space and the busy urban spaces that continues behind it.