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BELGRADE WATERFRONT

THE STAR OF THE REGION OR SCALE MODEL FOR CRITICISM

-HISTORY OF ARCHITECTURE IN THE CONTEMPORARY AGE-

PROFESSOR:
Garcia Vazquez Carlos Gabriel

-POLITECNICO DI MILANOYEAR 2015

STUDENT:
Stefan Veselinovi

BELGRADE WATERFRONT

TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. INTRODUCTION ................................................................................................................. 3
1.1. ABSTRACT ................................................................................................................... 3
1.2. OBJECTIVES ............................................................................................................... 3
1.3. METHODOLOGY ......................................................................................................... 3
1.4. TOPIC .......................................................................................................................... 4

2. DEVELOPMENT ....................................................................................................... 6
2.1. BELGRADE WATERFRONT
INTRODUCTION OF THE MASTER PLAN............................................................. 6
2.1.1 PRESENTATION ON REVEALING DAY BY
GOVERNMENT OF SERBIA AND COMPANY EAGLE HILLS

.......................................... 6

2.1.2 CURRENT PLAN OF THE PROJECT BELGRADE WATERFRONT


BY GOVERNMENT AND INSTITUTIONS
2.1.2.1. DESCRIPTION OF AREAS

................................................................ 7

....................................................................... 9

2.1.2.2. WORD OF OBSERVATION OFF CURRENT


SPATIAL PLAN FOR THE SPECIAL INTENSION

.......................................... 11

2.2. THE STAR OF THE REGION


OR SCALE MODEL FOR CRITICISM ...................................................................... 11
2.2.1. BRANKO BOJOVIS COLUMN
ABOUT BELGRADE WATERFRONT

................................................................. 12

2.2.2 THE OPEN LETTER TO CITIZENS OF SERBIA


FROM THE INTERNATIONAL NETWORK
FOR URBAN RESEARCH AND ACTION (INRA)

.................................................... 13

2.2.3 OFFICIAL DOCUMENT OF COMPLAINTS AND PROPOSAL


BY SERBIAN ACADEMY OF SCIENCE AND ARTS
2.2.3.1. APPROACH OF MAKING A PLAN

................................................ 15

........................................................... 15

2.2.3.2. THE WAY ABOUT WORK AND CURRENT ACTIVITIES


2.2.3.3. ABOUT METHODOLOGY ASPECTS

................................. 16

........................................................ 16

2.2.3.4. GENERAL CONCEPT OF THE PLANCONNECTION OF THE OLD AND NEW BELGRADE

.................................... 17

2.3.5. TRAFFIC SOLUTION AND INFRASTRUCTURETRANSITION AND SIDEWAY TRAFFIC

....................................................... 18

BELGRADE WATERFRONT

2.3. BELGRADE SKYLINE V2.0 ............................................................................... 19


2.3.1. SPATIAL CONCEPT OF THE BELGRADE WATERFRONTCOMPOSITION AND IDENTITY

....................................................................... 19

2.3.2 PARIS- 12 SKYCRAPERS,


WILL THEY CHANGE THE SKYLINE OF THE CITY

................................................ 20

3. CONCLUSION ........................................................................................................ 21
3.1 EVALUATION ................................................................................................... 21
3.2 CONCLUSION ................................................................................................. 22

4. BIBLIOGRAPHY ..................................................................................................... 22

BELGRADE WATERFRONT

1. INTRODUCTION
1.1. ABSTRACT
The purpose of this research paper is to give a critical overview on the project
Belgrade waterfront which is being executed by the Serbian government and the urban development
company from Abu Dhabi called Eagle Hills. This urban master plan has for a goal to redevelop old
urban tissue of Belgrade and utilise full potential of both coasts of the river Sava. In this research
paper we will see the very essence how shallow approach to architecture and urban development is.
Also using this project as a reference it should show us how nowadays urban development and
architecture shouldnt be, and allow us to ask the following questions.
-How long is the quality of architecture and urbanism going to be subjected to money and
politics?
-Can methodologies in architecture and urban development be globalised; copy-paste
methodology?
Keywords: Belgrade; river Sava; urbanism; redevelop; case- study;

1.2. OBJECTIVES
This paper has for the goal to present complexity of the The Amphitheatre of the Sava and to give
the critical overview of Belgrade waterfront and its methodology. The various objectives can be
summarized as follow:
- Understanding the history of how the area was developed.
- To introduce corporate urbanism, that is killing the very essence of the architecture and urbanism.
- To introduce the questions how today competitions are working.

1.3. METHODOLOGY
This paper will try to examine possibility of using Belgrade as a reference how architects and
urbanists need to fight for its city, and also awake peoples mentality through education. The method
used for this was study of journals, magazines and newspaper articles, seminar papers, personal
observation on field and correspondence with common people.
The paper will try to give analyse trough study and opinions of acknowledged experts about area and
the project Belgrade waterfront
Based on following:
- Belgrade waterfront- introduction of the master plan
- The star of the region or scale model for criticism
- Belgrade skyline v2.0
In conclusion of this paper it will be evaluated is it possible for foreigner to compose urban plan better
than local, or is it essential for them to collaborate with local experts. Also it will evaluate the
methodologies on how we need to approach in urban planning: global, semi- global, or local.

BELGRADE WATERFRONT

1.4. TOPIC
In order to understand this research paper it is necessary to look into the history little bit, so we could
fully see the shallowness of the current proposal Belgrade waterfront.
Belgrade is a city that has a fortune to be located on two rivers- Sava and Danube. Both of them are
being used for international river boat traffic, meaning lots of possibilities in transit, tourism,
economics, relaxation etc. But main issue with both of them is lack of usage. In this paper we will talk
about the river Sava, today referred as The Amphitheatre of the Sava (fig.1)

(Fig1.) The Amphitheatre of the Sava

The desire for utilisation of The Amphitheatre of the Sava dates even before First World War. The
first urban master plan of that kind was considered by Russian architect and urban planner Grigory
Pavlovich Kovalyevsky during 1923-1930. In his urban plan Grigory Kovalyevsky envisioned
integration of the both coasts of the river Sava, and from that moment this urban integration is known
as the The Amphitheatre of the Sava. (Fig 2-3)
His main idea was to create residential and commercial spaces along the coast line in areas that were
not used by railway.

Fig.2 (The Urban master of Belgrade,


considering utilisation of river Sava)

Fig.3 (The adopted urban master of Belgrade with addition that was
without addition that was considering utilisation of river Sava)

BELGRADE WATERFRONT

During 1929 Serbian architect Nikola Dobrovi saw natural connection between Terazije- The
Amphitheatre of the Sava, while he was working on competition for Terazije.
In his urban draft plan for Belgrade, he was proposing the bridges across Great War Island from
directions Dorol- New Belgrade. Also he was proposing to bypass the river Sava in lower zone
alongside Ada Ciganlija on place where is bridge Gazela, and also he was proposing bridge across
Danube on the same place where newly bridge from direction Zemun- Bora is built today. One thing
that architect Dobrovi also envisioned was removing railway from coastline to the current place
known as Autokomanda.
Later, during 1972, New Belgrade became a part of Belgrade and city masterplan was done, but
usage of The Amphitheatre of the Sava still wasnt at its peak. So 1976 case study was done for
central part of Belgrade, with assumption that this area (The Amphitheatre of the Sava) is going to
become new touristic, cultural, commercial centre. The quality of planning was extravagant, one could
say megalomaniacal. Even though the case study was adopted in Parliament, unfortunately it was
never completed.
During 1986 there were more case studies and proposals for The Amphitheatre of the Sava, but still
without will and capital investment to do it. In the early `90s Serbian Academy of Science did internal
competition with Milan Lojanica as the chief of project, and goal of that competition was to look the
area from new angles. As a result of that came out project by name Varo na vodi(Hamlet on water)
by architect Dragomir Manojlovi. The idea was to build an artificial island, with buildings and tourist
facilities, in the middle of the river Sava, and connect two banks of the river with a network of canals
and waterways.1
In 1995 came "Europolis", pet project of Miloevi's Socialist Party in the election campaign for the
1996 local elections. The project was a compilation of pre-existing ideas and was never
implemented.2
In 2003 General urbanistic plan Belgrade had plans to transform main railway station into new
regional metro station, and The Amphitheatre of the Sava was to be used for commercial spaces
and new city centres. Unfortunately that also ended with failure because of economics, and reason
that capital investments from foreign investors need to be put into another projects.
So after another failure, the local urban planners and architects stopped working on proposals for this
area and from that moment the only one who ever spoke about The Amphitheatre of the Sava were
politicians in order get cheap political points during election campaigns.
After a while people started to ignore this kinds of promises, so politicians had to upgrade their game.
In 2008, Minister of infrastructure and buildings announced that new investors are interested in
building new Central Station and shortly after that, 2012 appeared something called Belgrade
waterfront, that occupies an area of 185ha.
On the first impression it looks promising, investors are coming and Belgrade is flourishing. But
deeper analyses shows that this solutions for 185ha of land isnt very good, moreover it looks like
somebody take out a piece of UAE and put it in Belgrade. For some people it may look flashy and
contemporary, but people in profession often see this as something that needs to pass a thorough
investigation. Even if we undermine aesthetic just for conversation wise, big question is the
functionality of spaces, internal infrastructure etc., and by local professionals this master plan doesnt
works, on contrary it creates even more problems.
1
2

http://www.balcanicaucaso.org/eng/Regions-and-countries/Serbia/Belgrade-on-water-147583
http://www.balcanicaucaso.org/eng/Regions-and-countries/Serbia/Belgrade-on-water-147583

BELGRADE WATERFRONT

So, the question is:


Is city the prostitute that everyone can use?

2. DEVELOPMENT
2.1. Belgrade waterfront- introduction of the master plan
2.1.1 Presentation on revealing day by government of Serbia and company Eagle Hills
Belgrade waterfront is project built by firm from UAE called Eagle Hills. Main investor of this project
is Mr. Mohamed Alabbar who is also executive director of Eagle Hills company. Both local polititans
and Mr. Mohamed Alabbar are giving speeches that this project is going to create new turning point in
Belgrade and Serbia from all aspects.(fig 4)

Fig.4- Render of the Belgrade Waterfront

Building area of the project is 185ha, with high tower over 200m as a central figure in the location.
The estimated cost of this project is around three billion euros.
One of the key buildings beside tower is massive shopping centre with 140 000 m2 gross area which,
I paraphrase, is going to become new address for famous brands. Beside shopping mall, surrounding
area is going to have integrated community that will consist of hi- quality residential building,
commercial spaces, eight hotels of high and hi- medium category, educational facilities, health
facilities and recreational spaces.
The authors of this master plan foresee that Belgrade waterfront is going to become the very
crossroad for capital in way that it will design true destination for free time and job activities, which
illustrates capabilities of economic growth.3 As the authors present, the Belgrade waterfront is
designed according to latest standards of sustainability. In that way it will not only increase value of
commercial spaces, but it will also create invitation for foreign investors in coming time.
According to the officials, this project will create a lots of job opportunities - more than 20 000 jobs
during construction and around the same number during its final stage. Similar urban projects can
3

http://www.navodi.com/2014/06/master-plan-belgrade-waterfront/

BELGRADE WATERFRONT

contribute to GDP of the cities to extent of 5%, so in that way Belgrade waterfront would become a
representative landmark for contemporary cities in expansion, with goal of saving heritage, improving
street infrastructure and upgrading natural surroundings with big central park and extraordinary
boulevard.4
As it was mentioned in the project Belgrade waterfront, the special characteristics of the place are
boulevard with its 1.8 km and central park with 37ha of area. The grand boulevard will be filled with
cafes, restaurants and shopping places which powers up urban appeal of Belgrade waterfront and
also creates new urban hot spot of the city. The reference for this Boulevard comes from projects
such as Elysian Fields, Las Ramblas etc.5
Renewed Railway Bridge will be given a new function as a pedestrian bridge, which will connect
Belgrade waterfront with coastline walkway. According to the authors, Belgrade Waterfront will have
Cultural district and History square, whose goals are to establish city reputation and create place for
artistic and cultural activities. The old Railway station building will be reused for purpose of
performing- cultural centre, and it will have main part in development of cultural and creative district.
It is stated that project will be built in four phases, starting with residential skyscrapers, apartments for
renting, hotels, shopping mall Belgrade and Tower of Belgrade as a first phase of this big project.
After that next phase is constructing rest of residential blocks, park and performing- cultural centre.
According to the officials, on project will be hired many of Serbians contractors and architects in open
competition. In this open competition, besides domestic, many foreign architects and engineers are
working on design for Tower of Belgrade. By the authors, the tower is imagined as an object of mix
use- office spaces, residential, roof garden and viewpoint of the city.
It is said by the authors that Belgrade Waterfront will become new address for many people with its
capacity of more than 6 000 apartments- including those luxury and middle category apartments,
which will be built in phases. Besides residence it is estimated that new office spaces are going to be
used by 12 000 people.
Prime minister on that day announced that works on Belgrade Waterfront already started, and that the
first residential units will be soon release for sale.

2.1.2. Current plan of the project Belgrade Waterfront by government and institutions
What is in reality Belgrade Waterfront?
Belgrade Waterfront is redevelopment of the area known as The Amphitheatre of the Sava, which is
given new name. This project, from the presentation day to the public till now, has got new urban
planning direction. Building spatial plan for the special intension made one step forward in overview
all prerequisites for development of this big project. In a sense, this was a pretty big challenge for
Serbian institutions who is meeting for the first time with this kind of complexity and urban integration.
However, maybe the biggest challenge for city planners were specific conditions and demands by
investors that needed to be put in social acceptable and economical sustainable frames.
What was shown on physical model on that day was just a vision, because model was shown without
real sense of surrounding and context. With this plan, idea Belgrade Waterfront passed first filtration
and adjustment, and project was put in urbanistic framework. Plan is a result of compromise between

4
5

http://www.navodi.com/2014/06/master-plan-belgrade-waterfront/
http://www.navodi.com/2014/06/master-plan-belgrade-waterfront/

BELGRADE WATERFRONT

profession and investors, however things are not yet completed. Upgrading and designing of the
space is yet to begin.
The Belgrade Waterfront also got status of project of special intention, which allows its vertical
integration which means that jurisdiction cant be passed on lower levels. This legislation is used in
realisation of projects that are capital investments for state. In this case this legislation is useful
because it provides ability to efficiently result through simplified procedures and central decisionmaking. (Fig. 5)

Fig. 5- Belgrade Waterfront plan of special intention

With multi-disciplinary approach every aspect of this space is covered with operational objectives of
the plan, which implies protection of flooding the river Sava, regeneration of infrastructure, protection
of buildings of cultural means, finishing new grid public transportation, creating new places for
gathering and developing tourist brand.

BELGRADE WATERFRONT

2.1.2.1. Description of Areas:


The Amphitheatre of the Sava is, according to this plan, divided in 34 city blocks that will be grouped
in 5 basic functional- space areas. Besides this 5 areas of the right coast of Sava, this spatial urban
plan is extended to the left side of the river Sava, from Brankos bridge to Old Railway Bridge.6 (Fig. 6)

Fig.6- the zoning of the current spatial plan for special purpose.

in Serbian means area

10

BELGRADE WATERFRONT

Area 1
Space between Brankos bridge and Old Railway bridge (bridge Miladin Zari)
This historic part of the city, from the end of the 19th and beging of 20th century, is the area of special
cultural-historic value. The goal of this plan was to protect city skylines from Terazije square, to keep
origin of the Savamala street grid and restrict building, by limiting building in small compact blocks
with low heights (maximum 18.5m). One of the goals of the area is to reconstruct all the landmarks of
the culture, and to connect whole space with landscapes, and corridors with coastline of the river
Sava.
Area 2
Space between Old Railway Bridge, bridge Gazela, Sava Street and the future Boulevard of Sava
Within this area there are also objects of cultural significance which need to be protect. One of the
most important ones are old Railway building and the Post office, but there are also parts of ambient
spaces that needs to be kept for memorys sake.
This area is also the zone of the public content, which means creating new public spaces and building
dedicated to culture. Pre- requirements for building in this area are not uniformed, meaning that along
coastline of the river Sava city blocks are compact with heights that are characteristic for town centre
(ground floor + 8 floors).
Special character of built up space reflects around old Railway station building, where are allowed
only objects of low heights (ground floor + 4 floors). Within this space it is designed to be new Sava
square and new big city park. In this part, plan gives recommendation of protection of skyline from
street Kneza Miloa on the river and New Belgrade, and preserving corridors which are formed by
next streets: Nemanjina, Viegradska and Miloa Pocerca. Along this streets limitation for heights of
the buildings are low.
Area 3
Space between Old Railway Bridge, bridge Gazela, river Sava and the future Boulevard of Sava
Part of coastline alongside with the bridge Gazela is announced as the first phase of the construction,
and it represents area of the biggest density and high frequency. Within this space will be tower over
200m tall, and also a big commercial zone with small shops. Space around tower is envisioned like an
open space with lots of landscape features, also the river coastline is re- designed. Beside this
activities rest of the space is being used for residential skyscrapers within 100m of heights.
Area 4
Space between Bridge Gazela and Sajam
This area is mostly residential (with heights around ground floor + 6), but besides residential it is also
planned to have commercial and public contents. The location of commercial zones is set alongside
bridge Gazela and Mostar interchange. Commercial space would be in correlation with buildings of
the old Mill and Bigz, and it would have special built character, meaning that building could have
maximum height of 60m. In this zone there is a protected object of the culture- paper fabric Milan
Vapa.
Area 5
Thigh space between New Belgrade river coastlines from the Brankos bridge till Old Railway Bridge
It is planned to build redesigned public landspace here, like a big park that will have walkway along
the river coast line.

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BELGRADE WATERFRONT

2.1.2.2 Word of observation of current spatial plan for the special intension
In comparison with first presentation of the project Belgrade Waterfront, current master plan is
moderate correction. Especially in fact that the heights of the building are lowered, and that part of the
Savamala is preserved without any new implemented heights of the building.
With this master plan parts of public contents are open for architectonic competition. One of them,
where competition is going to be public, is ambient solution around current Railway station and Sava
Square.7
But on the other hand it is known now that current central tower wont be open for public competition
anymore, instead it will be decided by investors. One of possibilities is that architectonical solution for
tower is going to be given to Norman Foster.8 But, question must be asked.
How come this tower, which is going to become new landmark of Belgrade, is not subjected to public
opinion? There must be public consensus if this questionable tower is to be built.
When it comes to traffic and regulation of this project, there is a plan for primal traffic roads, but like
on previous solution which can be observed from the first presented model. Streets are spreading in
radial direction from the tower which creates interesting form. This solution is still in process of
reconsideration, being that they are ending at the tower, which may create lots of problems in the
future. It is still necessary to find compromises between proposed plan and development according to
legislation and norms of the Republic of Serbia. For now it seems that this proposed solution could go
either ways, for example it gives good quality public spaces and good designed landscapes spaces.
In this plan there is possibility that development of the traffic grid will cause the need of building tunnel
around Faculty of Economics till Francuska street. Also it will be necessary to integrate underground
tunnel below the river Sava till Boulevard Zorana inia, plus other projects that will be subdued to
special addition of planning documents.
At the end of this overview of current master plan, it needs to be point out that building site needs to
be additionally protected from floods. To achieve that it is necessary to build protective wall of heights
of 2m depending on location. Also it is necessary to even the terrain in some parts, so that slope
through Sava street can have soft angle. On the shore it needs to be build cascade walkways with
wide fronts so it could give nice vistas.

2.2. THE STAR OF THE REGION OR SCALE MODEL FOR CRITICISM


Ever since the project Belgrade Waterfront saw the daylight, (in Serbia referring as Beograd na vodi,
which would have literal translation Belgrade on the water) it became centre of discussion in almost
all TV shows in Serbia, even in some nearby states of the Balkans. So many ask the question. Could
this project become new Serbias brand or big fiasco? Public opinion is divided mostly because of
politics and media influence, but when it comes to professional opinion there we have pretty clear
idea. Most of professionals and PhD doctors in architecture and urbanism dont agree about Belgrade
waterfront being such as it is the good idea.
In the following writings I will present what some of most esteemed architects and urbanist from
Serbia and other countries have to say about Belgrade waterfront by chronological order.

7
8

http://www.beobuild.rs/read.php/696.html
http://www.beobuild.rs/read.php/696.html

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BELGRADE WATERFRONT

2.2.1. BRANKO BOJOVIS COLUMN ABOUT BELGRADE WATERFRONT


Branko Bojovi is acknowledged Serbian architect and urbanist who won 3 prizes and 82 recognition
for his work. In this part I will give overview of his column that he wrote for Academy of Architecture of
Serbia.
-Column: Dilettantism in urbanism
(published 25.03.2014)
In introduction mr. Bojovi explains that every public job is subdued to criticism, but apparently not
this project. Being that money for investment depends solely on company Eagle Hills and UAE, they
often response with question Do you have three billion euros?9
Guess that who has the money he has the power, meaning that he can blackmail.
But No! Even though that this project is half illegal there were and there are people of integrity to ask
the questions and educate other people. Mr. Bojovi is one of them. During those months there
werent any plans or any sufficient information except some animations, renders and shallow articles
who were parsing investors and ongoing project. Even with little information Mr Bojovi publicly said
that Belgrade Waterfront has a lots of urban spatial problems. He categorised them in seven
points.(Fig.8)

Fig. 8- Previous design of the Belgrade Waterfront that Mr Bojovi is criticising

-Context
The Amphitheatre of the Sava spreads from Gospodarska mehana till Kosanievog Venac and it
integrates both coasts of the river Sava. In this project only little part was presented, which was
treated independently like a little piece of the Amphitheatre of the Sava. There is also problem of
surroundings because they werent using topography information, meaning that it contains incorrect
volumes, that gives false picture of the project.
-River
Being that the river Sava is international traffic river, which means that minimum width for planed
bridges needs to be 120m and 12m of height from highest water. The width of the River Sava in that
location is around 200m and the deeper part of river is closer to the right coast, meaning that any
intervention on that part of the river will greatly affect future use of the river.
9

http://aas.org.rs/diletantizam-kao-urbanizam-beograd-na-vodi/

13

BELGRADE WATERFRONT

-Bridges
As it was mentioned before, needed characteristics for bridges over the river Sava and one presented
doesnt match, which means that proposed bridge would cancel river Sava ability to be international
traffic river.
-Tower
Planned tower gets 50m into riverbed of the Sava,and reason for that still isnt clarified. The only idea
that comes to mind is originality at all cost. This kind of thinking will bring a change into natural stream
of the river, meaning that boat traffic is going to have lots of issues. From technical point of view,
Tower will have problem with foundation and protection from the frost. One of the points that Mr.
Bojovi indicates is that the form is very unoriginal that reminds lots of Londons cucumber. When it
comes to skylines of Belgrade, the Tower will ruin the historical panorama of Belgrade, closing the
view on Cathedral of Saint Sava and it will be dominant point. Question is for what reason?
-Development
In this segment Mr. Bojovi explains the problem of migration that this project could bring. His first
estimation is based on next calculation. If it is planned between 1.5- 2.0 million m2 of office spaces.
Calculating that every employee needs 15m2 of working space, the result is around 100 000- 130 000
employees in one shift, double in two. If 1/3 of that employees are citizens from Belgrade, the rest of
job positions would be filled with migration from Serbia, creating need for new residential spaces,
which leads to overburdening the city. One of interesting points that he elaborates is that, in the big
picture, this will create two ghettos - Belgrade ghetto and Serbia ghetto.10
-Technical parameters
During this period when this column was published period, there wasnt any specific information
except animations and renders. So in this point, Mr. Bojovi refers to that every project needs its
financial and technical parameters which were lacking in total.
-Column conclusion
The people involved in this project are nothing more than dilettantants who dont know what they are
doing.
Mr. Bojovi points out what investors urbanism is capable of, bending the laws and legislation
according their needs, meaning that General Urbanistic Plan will be changed. If this kind of changes
is possible by politics, Mr Bojovi makes sarcastic comment that starting from tomorrow all technical
universities in Serbia should train young minds to be simple donkey workers who will do whatever
investors says. And for the end I would like to quote his ending sentence from which he gives answer
to the question Do you have three billion euros?.
I personally have about 300 thousand euros in real estate, library, hemeroteca, photo archives,
recordings and more. This is one ten-thousandth part of 3 billion euros. For that much I had criticized.

2.2.2 The open letter to citizens of Serbia from The International Network for Urban
Research and Action (INRA)
published, July 2014
Besides Serbian professionals from the field of architecture and urbanism, there is a group of people
called INRA who also gave their opinion about Belgrade Waterfront. The INRA is a group of 50
10

http://aas.org.rs/diletantizam-kao-urbanizam-beograd-na-vodi/

14

BELGRADE WATERFRONT

international scholars and experts on urban development and planning with long experience. Their
experience in waterfront projects comes from developments of cities such as London, Amsterdam,
Hamburg, Barcelona, Boston, New York, Toronto, Vancouver, Hong Kong, Sydney and Melbourne.
They support the idea of the Belgrade Waterfront, but not the current one that is presented by
company Eagle Hills and UAE.
They point out that megaprojects are always vulnerable to market fluctuations, and giving it solely to a
single investor increases the risk. For example if the company becomes financially broke, Belgrade
would have an unfinished development on this prime site.11 So, the solution to soften the vulnerability
is diversity of developers. What is interesting, is that INRA better understand unreal expectations of
investors than Government itself. In continue of the letter they give the facts, that the approach that
investors are taking is unjustified.
the first A phase of the project has some probability to be constructed: two apartment buildings,
two hotels, a high-rise tower and the largest shopping mall in the Balkans. The prospect of these
structures standing unsold and isolated on a cleared site, cordoned off from the public until land
values and purchaser interests increase
After that they give Interesting point about job opportunities that investors are preaching:
The promises of economic gain through jobs in design, construction, maintenance and operations
need guarantees of use of local resources and labour with good wages and conditions. However, the
buildings proposed for the waterfront suggest that most of the on-going jobs on the waterfront will be
short term, low paid construction and service jobs. The content of this important development could
be much more diverse and foremost respond to the real needs of the city and citizens.
Through the letter they give friendly piece of advice with warning not to sell land near the river Sava
without such haste and not to let them fool us:
The land along the Sava has great potential value. Its transfer at low, or no cost into long-term
private leasehold will deliver little benefit to the citizens of Belgrade. In addition, the commitment of
EUR 200 million of public funds to the clearing of the Sava Amphitheatre is likely the beginning of high
expenditure from the state which characterizes such projects. It seems that there are many better
ways of using these means and the area, in the way which would be more appropriate to economical,
societal and ecological context.
Besides economic overview people from the INRA also looked into design level, and saw little
understanding for Belgrade and its real treasure - people and their culture. Instead creating landscape
and streets that fits local residence, all that can be seen is generic approach in design:
This high-end mixed use formula contains no social, economic or cultural mix. It is a clichd,
corporate model that neglects local needs in terms of housing or work. It provides a very limited range
of opportunities for production and consumption.
As everything else there is too little consideration about delicate environment of the river Sava, so this
proposal is somehow dangerous. There is no indication of any kind of study that will show is it ok to
propose something like this. So instead being part of history that destroys local ecology of the place,
lets adopt mentality of preservation:
Waterfront developments in the past have destroyed local ecologies, displaced resident populations,
and made public open space inaccessible. Technologies for climate change adaptation and new

11

http://www.euroalter.com/2014/open-letter-to-the-people-of-belgrade

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BELGRADE WATERFRONT

approaches to the ecological consequences of waterfront are developing rapidly. Here is an


opportunity for Belgrade to display a new and exciting approach to its river bank.
In their letter they give the new methods how to approach in waterfront design - by engaging local
communities and employing innovative mechanisms:
Development finance arrangements are evolving to include mechanisms for planning leverage and
value capture. These public funds are then used to ensure a higher degree of community benefit.
With this kind of mechanism local authorities are able to include subdivisions of the land to wide range
investors, which would encourage innovative local and vernacular architectural styles and ensure
diversity in form and use. This in turn allows local opportunities to flourish in the context of a more
globalised environment.12
Interesting fact is that INRA group stands for dialogue as a way for urban designing.
Meaning that together with local communities and their knowledge are sustainable improved but
creates the feeling of acceptance and belonging.
So in this very informative letter we have been given information how to approach with greedy
investors and their copy - paste urbanism and how to find the silver- lining:
Rather than providing a standard blueprint with an unclear business plan (the obligations of the state
being much greater at this point than the obligations of the investor), this project should be built step
by step, closely monitored by the highest standards of local planning regulations and transparency. It
must have attention to local economics, and to the design and use of this central part of Belgrade. It
must involve its people, recognise the need for ecological restoration and sustainability, and not fall
prey to the expectations of a corporate urbanism that is rejected by urban professionals and citizens
alike around the world.

2.2.3 Official document of complaints and proposal by Serbian Academy of Science and ArtsSASA (in Serbia SANU)
published 6th of November, 2014.
In introduction of the document written by PhD Milan Lojanica with the rest of the board, he explains
that this project is positive in sense that it brings the capital investors and possibility for development
of Belgrade, but also underline that it doesnt mean that with money it can be created whatever. So in
the following I will give only few of overviews on the project. It is important to say that this document
has solid base for criticism the Belgrade Waterfront because the SASA(SANU) did lots of case
studies and internal competitions of this area, which means they have bigger database of knowledge
than company Eagle Hills from UAE.
2.2.3.1. Approach of making a plan
- What is plan of special purpose?
Plan of special purpose, by legislation and law of Republic of Serbia, is plan that has strategic value
for whole country, while commercial, residence and following public function dont have it. They
present commercial interest defined by local community.
So apparently the very first thing that has to be done is to define and justify what is special purpose of
12

http://www.euroalter.com/2014/open-letter-to-the-people-of-belgrade

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this project. Otherwise this kind of exception will weaken the local institution that are necessary for the
realization of the project.
- Justification of this plan
Regardless of the current Act, if Government chooses to take responsibility for deciding on a part of
Belgrade territory, like it was in the past (during initial Socialism- Titos period), then it is absolutely
necessary to have an argument consisting of a general urban project with previous analysis of
economic and social justification. Only with this analyses (and not a scale model which doesnt
contain mentioned elements) Government gets technical, economical, financial and other arguments
for making decision. Otherwise, there is big uncertainty, decision making under risk, and the question
is what benefits country and city could get.
So in order to fix this current plan, it needs to be complemented by a precise analysis of social and
economic justification.

2.2.3.2. The way about work and current activities


-Physical model. (Fig.9)

Fig.9- Physical model of Belgrade Waterfront

Model is built without inputting important informations such as topography, survey about existing
structures in contact zones of the hinterland and New Belgrade.
- Plan without showing alternatives
General concept isnt tested with alternatives which international and domestic practise demands. It
could be said that it has been done in laboratory without control of relationships and realisation with
real space that is meant to.
- Absence of collaboration with the domestic professional
Making decisions about the elements of the concept with far-reaching consequences was developing
without consulting local experts and public. The lack of knowledge of numerous facts relevant for
making the base of the concept and lack of possibilities for implementation of knowledge and creative
contributions of domestic environment, has resulted in many difficulties and shortcomings in the work
and final product.

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- Institution only in the roll of the executive


The participation of our professional support was reduced only to the role of official institutional
engagement and cooperation as executors.
Suggestion to this last four overviews by SASA (SANU) is to correct deficiencies in next phase of
work.

2.2.3.3. About methodology aspects


-Integrated or sectorial approach
Declared methodology of creating a plan, which is in the spirit of contemporary methodology, is in the
fact badly applied. Instead of integrated planning approach, the approach that was used is sectorial
elaboration, meaning that social implications werent controlled in order to establish functionality,
dimensions, relations with the rest of the city and spatial characteristics of place itself13.
- Sustainability
Principals of sustainability which oblige on local particularity are just mentioned along the way without
any kind of study or facts.
- Principal of identity
This project creates one big problem - carelessness about local identity. Big and tall architectural
structures, without possibility of flexibility make that historical Belgrade panorama is being ruined.
- Accessibility
Principle of accessibility is discredited, because territory plan has high level of traffic inaccessibility in
all elements: cars, pedestrian, public transport
- Principle of context
Principle of context reading is highly disregarded, because the relationship between existing and
planned structures at the city level are not explained.
Suggestion by SASA is that this problems should be fixed with changes and additions in plans and
notes of its execution.

2.2.3.4. GENERAL CONCEPT OF THE PLAN


- CONNECTION OF THE OLD AND NEW BELGRADE
In all current case studies, proposals and opinions by public, the area around The Amphitheatre of the
Sava was always considered as the development of central area of the city, meaning that both sides
of the river Sava were considered as one whole and not as two parts, which is case with proposed
plan.
So the suggestion is that this problem still needs to be reconsidered and still need to be developed,
because Belgrade is the city that uses both sides of the river Sava, meaning that river is supposed to
connect, not to divide two sides.

13

Comments and suggestions of the SASA (SANU) for "Belgrade Waterfront".

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- Connection of the coastline and hinterland


Plan by itself doesnt consider this issue, even though that it is important to solve functional, spatial
organization and surroundings that reflects quality of the plan in full. So it is necessary to think and
develop this part more.

- Integrity planning solutions


Insufficient based on an analysis of the conditions and possibilities of transformation the contact zone
and a whole city, this plan does not affect significant demographic social, technical, cultural and other
aspects as elements of urbanity in which he would have to be based.
So it is necessary to do case study that will be integrated in plan.

2.2.3.5. TRAFFIC SOLUTION AND INFRASTRUCTURE


-TRANSITION AND SIDEWAY TRAFFIC
Current traffic solution is far from giving the satisfying solution. Being that this part of Belgrade have
few types of traffic systems which are being used with maximum capacity. With proposed traffic
system, instead of relive the stress, it will create bigger intensity. This especially goes for direction
North- South.
So there is still need to rethink how traffic system is going to function. One of proposals is to
reconstruct city traffic direction in edge parts.
-The fate of city railway
In this spatial plan is terminated urban (regional) railway which used excellent railway corridors and
connections with the new track over the old bridge and New Belgrade, had a stand at Amphitheatre of
the Sava and was part of the perspective system in the Master Plan 2021. 14
According to SASA it was necessary that the existing railway station be re-levelled when they disrupt
Amphitheatre of the Sava, as well as to extend the line tunnel link below the Republic Square to the
Danube corridor. It was supposed to be an important part of urban traffic systems and enrichment of
supply and capacity. Now in the spatial plan every element of this is removed, which could have
functional potential.
Similarly, in the spatial plan of the Amphitheatre of the Sava every railway, even the city (regional)
railway is removed, but the periphery connection with the Sajam is expected with new final site.
However, a very useful system links with New Belgrade over the old railway bridge is lost, and the
bridge can be seen only as a fun attraction. The decision to eliminate regional Railways was hasty
one, and without proposal that would enable good organization and housing according to the Sava
Street. With that the possibility of continuation of regional railway towards Danube corridor is lost.
In order to fix this, it is necessary to organise the studies of keeping the lines of regional railways
Amphitheatre of the Sava, as well as a detailed plan of regulation of the blocks along the Sava street
and blocks behind the current building of the railway station, which will be kept in this this plan.

14

Comments and suggestions of the SASA (SANU) for "Belgrade Waterfront".

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- Water traffic
An important aspect of nautical transport with passenger pier as an integral part of navigation of the
Danube-Sava was not even touched in plan. It was not treated neither from longitudinal or transversal
especially transport boats across the river because the plan was principally disregarded.
Maybe the authors of plan intentionally or accidently oversaw this into consideration, but then again
that explains the lack of connection between the two parts and landscape areas of right and left side
of the river Sava.

2.3. BELGRADE SKYLINE V2.0


In this chapter it will be introduced how current development of Belgrade Waterfront is destroying
panorama and skyline of the city. I will use also case of Paris to show that todays corporate- copy paste architecture is abusing cities and common people.
2.3.1. SPATIAL CONCEPT OF THE BELGRADE WATERFRONT- COMPOSITION AND IDENTITY
Due to the construction of skyscraper, headquarter of Belgrade Waterfront, ad hoc committee
revoked document that was protecting recognizable skyline of Belgrade from megalomaniacal
buildings.
The document has never had force of law, but in some other cities Barcelona, Paris and Athens,
authorities also adopted zoning regulations that avoid blocking sight lines to the old building. Although
it was more a recommendation than an order, planners couldnt ignore the document while deciding
on whether to approve large projects.
Having that in mind we can easily understand what the organisation and composition of the new
master plan of Belgrade Waterfront beholds. The space in territory plan for Belgrade Waterfront is
organised on idea of central- radial structure with spatial point in geometrical centre of the space.
Although by itself its very picturesque, this compositional scheme with its position and dimensional
identity is in conflict with basic topographic and morphologic characteristics of ambient- it entirely
covers the biggest part of the Belgrade panorama ridge, with all imposing places that makes historical
centre and identity of the city.
Being that the city of Belgrade has a long history and lots of layers, new composition can be
integrated as a part of a new city layer. New compositional spatial plan has opposite goal to sweep
away all other layers for price of new identity. Belgrade silhouette is the very core of identity of the
city, and vistas from old part of the city and from New Belgrade side of the city must be preserved in
great deal. (Fig.10)

Fig.10- Belgrade panorama taken from Gazela bridge

With new compositional spatial plan, front facing structures that are planned by project Belgrade
Waterfront will be above heights of Terazije, Slavija, Boulevard of King Aleksandar, and Vracars
square, which are historical landmarks, and on top of that it will close Belgrades vistas entirely turning
him into back cover of new structures. Endangering the very core of Belgrade.

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One of the structure that is simply imposing to be new landmark of the city for no reason- the Tower of
Belgrade. Location of this object is in the very centre of the space, which blocks many historical
landmarks such as statue of the Victor (Pobednik), Roofs of Belgrade Cathedral, Beograanka etc.
The Tower of Belgrade heightens up the highest point in panorama from 80 to 128m. Looking from
frontal views with human eyes it only makes it even higher.
On the other hand there is general discussion in Istanbul about demolishing buildings that are
endangering city skyline
(http://www.businessinsider.com/istanbul-plans-to-demolish-new-skyscrapers-2014-8)

2.3.2 PARIS- 12 SKYCRAPERS, WILL THEY CHANGE THE SKYLINE OF THE CITY
Paris' wide boulevards and elegant buildings date from the 19th century. But now a ban on building
height has been overturned, and the city is set to get 12 new skyscrapers. But will this threaten the
city's identity?15(Fig.11)

Fig.11-Todays Paris skyline

"A city is something that constantly renews itself," said Jerome Coumet , the young mayor of one
Paris district. "I'm convinced that just as people go to visit the new parts of London, people will come
to see extraordinary new architecture in Paris."
Behind this words are the words of a man who thinks only about money and branding the Paris. This
is the very core of corporative urbanism (aka copy- paste method) instead of redeveloping city by
listening to the people needs, politicians are only interested in personal gain.
Currently one of skyscrapers in Paris is designed by Renzo Piano, which raises the question. Is
architecture today only about the branding? Cities shouldnt be abused in the name of prosperity.
15

http://www.dw.de/will-paris-plan-to-build-12-new-skyscrapers-ruin-the-city/a-16960617

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In fact Philosopher Thierry Paquot recently published a book called "Height Madness" where he
states:
"Office work is destined to disappear," said Thierry Paquot. "We're already contracting out a lot of
paperwork - accounting for example - to workers in countries like India and Morocco and every
manager has his smartphone and does his own correspondence so the world of work is undergoing a
huge transformation. I think we're moving towards a world where people will work at home or in cafes
and, when necessary, they have to meet they'll do so not in a skyscraper but somewhere really nice."
- Rupture architecture
Up in the north of Paris, Italian architect Renzo Piano is about to design a 160 meter-high tower of
four steel and glass boxes. The Shard, the building that is located in London's Tower Bridge, is
something that officials want to have also in the city of Paris. It becomes win situation for both partiesarchitect get fame and money, while Paris officials get tourist attraction.
Olivier de Monicault, president of the anti-skyscraper pressure group SOS Paris, has a name for this
sort of buildings: "rupture architecture." One part of his statement hits into the very core of the
problem:
"Now, when you have modern architecture, usually the architect makes a project, then he tries to sell
it to any place in the world. He doesn't make his project especially for a place. He wants to become
famous with his building, and so he thinks he makes something very strange, very different from the
place where he's building it."
This sentence would be pointless if common people didnt saw the problem of modern architecture.
So today we have divided opinion of general public. But every day more and more people are
questioning contemporary architecture, simply because of arrogance of architects.

3. CONCLUSION
3.1. Evaluation
After this paper, the main question and one of the main objectivities was to determine if urban projects
can be done by foreigners without consulting local professionals and, if methodology of urban
planning can be global (copy- paste system), semi- global, or is it something that comes entirely from
pure local knowledge experience.
The Belgrade Waterfront is project that shows a lot of answers. It has shown that undertaking this
kind of megalomaniac projects is needed to be done in collaboration with local professionals, also it
showed that methodology that we have today needs to evolve, meaning that urban planners and
Government needs to approach to the people and establish dialogue. Because city is definitely not a
prostitute that everyone can do whatever it want whit it.16
16

http://www.politika.rs/rubrike/Beograd/Grad-nije-prostitutka-da-pristaje-na-svaki-zahtev-investitora.lt.html

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In conclusion the answer is that city is not only spatial logical puzzle were we can test everything. It is
a dynamical evolving organism which we need to listen and understand. Meaning that collaboration
between local and foreigner professionals are needed, with methodology that works with layers of the
city, local knowledge and experiences from other places.
3.2. Conclusion
Belgrade Water front as a concept is something that is trying to happen trough history of the city
starting from 1930s, but being that this kind of project is delicate and it needs a lot of money and time.
It was foolish to think that solution would come so easily. As the commission of architecture of SASA
(SANU) told in their document - it is opportunity that Republic of Serbia and town of Belgrade needs
to take, but simply and blindly accepting all the conditions is mostly foolish and irresponsible.
Lots of promises, manipulation by media etc., proves that people and professionals must struggle in
order to bring positive look to Belgrade, and not to make something that will look like one of Chinese
urban replicas of the others cities that are mostly abandoned.
During March 2014, the master plan was just a of collection of buildings put into render and animation
to look nice without sense of reality and context. Now the plan crossed a long journey, but still with
lots of problems that need to be solved. In order to do so, everyone (common people, architects,
urbanist, sociologist) needs to be united and strike the final blow to the corporate urbanism.

4. BIBLIOGRAPHY
Written literature
Digital version of used document titled:
Comments and suggestions of the SASA (SANU) for "Belgrade Waterfront" . By SASA (SANU)
can be downloaded from here
http://aas.org.rs/primedbe-i-sugestije-sanu-na-beograd-na-vodi/

-Online literature:
http://www.belgradewaterfront.com/Belgrade-Waterfront/1/Belgrade-Waterfront.shtml
http://www.balcanicaucaso.org/eng/Regions-and-countries/Serbia/Belgrade-on-water-147583
http://aas.org.rs/diletantizam-kao-urbanizam-beograd-na-vodi/
http://aas.org.rs/rentijersko-investitorski-gup/
http://sgcircle.blogspot.it/2007/11/savski-amfiteatar-studija
http://djordjebobic.com/?p=5123
http://www.ekapija.com/website/en/page/571071/We-are-25-years-away-from-Serbian-Manhattan-Destinyof-Belgrade-on-water-Sava-Amphitheater-Europolis

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http://www.gradjevinarstvo.rs/tekstovi/4327/820/%E2%80%9Ebeograd-na-vodi%E2%80%9C,-ali-na-kojina%C4%8Din
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http://www.vreme.co.rs/cms/view.php?id=1209893
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http://www.b92.net/eng/news/business.php?yyyy=2014&mm=06&dd=30&nav_id=90824
http://www.euroalter.com/2014/open-letter-to-the-people-of-belgrade
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http://pedjapopovic.info/vek-spustanja-beograda-na-reke/
http://djordjebobic.com/?p=4962
http://www.dw.de/will-paris-plan-to-build-12-new-skyscrapers-ruin-the-city/a-16960617
http://www.navodi.com/2014/06/master-plan-belgrade-waterfront/
http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/lsee/2014/12/15/belgrade-waterfront-when-sultanism-enters-city-planning/
http://www.beobuild.rs/read.php/696.html
https://nedavimobeograd.wordpress.com/2014/11/12/transkript-ispod-povrsine-beograda-na-vodi-planovi-iposledice/
http://aas.org.rs/sanu-iznela-22-stranice-primedaba-na-beograd-na-vodi/