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Diploma Høst 2018

Public space in Belgrade

Aleksandra Ognjanov

Belgrade is located at the confluence of rivers Sava and Danube, and because of its specific geopolitical location, it was always considered a crossroad between the East and West. The confluence of the two rivers was the border between the two big empires in the past, the Habsburg and the Ottoman, which architecturally and urbanistically shaped Belgrade as it is today. The area in between was the border of the two empires, and it was always considered a no-man’s land. Today it is known as New Belgrade. This area was swampland and without any settlement until the mid-20th century.


New Belgrade was thought of as an ambitious political project for the new administrative and cultural center for the capital of Yugoslavia. Among the first buildings to be built was the Federal executive council, now being used by the Government of Serbia. The building was thought of as the most important and monumental building of New Belgrade. Right after the construction of this building, a public competition for the Museum of Revolution of Yugoslav people was launched. The construction started in 1977, only to stop right after the basement floor was poured, due to the lack of funding. This site is the location of the project. The theme of an urban public space, where public space is most generally defined as an open area accessible to all people, was chosen as a response to the condition in which the site is found now. It is a huge, strange, abandoned green area, between an equally big housing block which houses more than 5000 people and a promenade along the river Danube, and it is not used by anyone or for anything. Paradoxically, it is both a non-place and a place, at the same time.


My main interest in this special site was to think of an architectural theme and program which would provide me with the means of dealing with this site, in its honest, monumental scale. The public space of my project is thought of as a unifying gesture which would provide the area with a character. The site is elevated and configured as a hill. The program I chose to work with is a music hall. The landscape and the music hall are thought together in the project as a series of spatial experiences. With the idea of public space in mind, the whole building manifests itself through a square form of a concrete roof and an open platform placed in a valley-like space on the hill. The platform is thought of an extension of the landscape and the roof marks the entrance to the music hall and defines the space without occupying the ground.


The hill disrupts the monotonous flatness of New Belgrade, creating an obstacle. The landscape also enables a connection to the rest of the city across the river and provides the housing blocks with a beautiful view. The building has one main, central space shaped like a cone, which is the space of the music. Around this space, there are two ramps. These ramps are accessed from the platform under the roof and they are an in-between space from the open landscape to the spaces of the building.


The structure of the building is defined by a clear geometry of a square, a circle, and a cone. The cone is the main structural and architectural element of the building. Together with the circular ramps, it dictates the spatial order of each floor. The roof is held by the cone and is cantilevering 30 m on each side. This is made possible due to the conical shape and a constructive ring with a secondary rib construction. Light enters the building through 4 big light wells on each side of the building, as well as 4 small light wells that light the circular space. The Auditorium is lit with a circular opening found in the center of the roof. The material in which the building is envisioned is white in-situ concrete.

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