Beton Hala is today an open and spontaneous cultural hub. The new building designed by Erik Giudice Architects assumes this identity and provides more space for spontaneity and creativity.
The layout for the Waterfront Center takes it’s departing point from the linear structure of the existing Beton Hala. By concentrating the program on a linear strip, a park is created towards the Castle and a large multi activity promenade along the river.
The new structure is highly transparent, letting through views from the river towards the Castel and from the Castel towards the river. The structure becomes a transparent filter between two complementary urban public spaces: the park and the river promenade. On ground level several outdoor pedestrian passages connect the park and the promenade. The building adds a vertical dimension to the horizontality of the site, reflecting the multifaceted and diverse identity of Belgrad and its cultural life. The building becomes a stage for multiple expressions.
Through its linear layout the building leaves a generous space for open-air activities in particular for exhibitions, concerts, events. The buildings elevations become the visual and acoustical backdrop for the open-air stages that can be located on its two sides. The building is designed as a vertical public space, with large open air ramps that makes it possible to reach the top level, the viewing platforms and the connecting bridge to the castle without entering the commercial functions.
Two outdoor promenades goes through the building, while the urban landscape progressively unveils. The promenades culminates on the top terrace with a spectacular view on the river and the Belgrade skyline.
An Icon for Belgrade
The dynamic expression of the Center adds a new icon to the Belgrade waterfront. The building’s materiality creates a powerful contrast between the exposed smooth concrete and the crystalline glazed envelope. The enclosures are transparent and reflecting, dematerializing the limits between inside and outside.
The building is an efficient engine, it’s structural design and it’s open plans gives an unlimited flexibility in time and space. Movable and sliding facades and partition walls make it possible to unite or separate spaces according to the needs of each function, event and program. The buildings structure is conceived as a flexible shelf that can accommodate a great variety of functions both cultural and commercial.
The exhibition spaces are concentrated in the north-western part of the structure, as the rest of the building they are characterized by a high degree of flexibility. Depending on the type of exhibition the exterior walls will either be opaque or transparent. The terraces that are connected to the exhibition spaces can be used for outdoor exhibitions and related events.
The commercial spaces are located in the south eastern part of the structure. These spaces can be subdivided in several independent units in order to obtain a great degree of flexibility in it’s uses and to respond to the needs of a wide variety of commercial activities such as cafés, restaurants, shops etc. The building has several natural auditoriums through its inclined surfaces and ramps. Movable acoustic deflectors and stage sets make it possible to adapt these spaces for musical or theatrical performances.
The identity of the building as a support for ephemeral events is integrated in the building’s design. The building is conceived as a toolbox for the users, visitors and artists.
Technical description, sustainability and energy concept
By stacking the functions, the building’s footprint is reduced, which gives place to a large green park, contributing in an essential way to the sustainability of the project. The exposed concrete structure gives a high inertia to the building which acts as a thermal regulator: storing heat during winter and coolness during summer. The interior spaces are protected by a double envelope that acts as an efficient thermal buffer, using passive means to reduce the energetic needs of the building. High quality double glazing creates an efficient thermal skin. The slabs have a integrated insulation which provides total continuity in the insulating envelope. During cold periods the double skin provides a powerful insulation and reduces the need for heating. Through the glazed envelope the sun provides passive heating. In intermediate periods with good climatic conditions the sliding glass facades can be opened and the interior spaces benefits from natural ventilation.
During hot periods the space between the two envelopes is ventilated and integrated, mechanized textile sun screens between these two envelopes protect the interior from the sun radiation, keeping the coolness. During the night a free-cooling system is adopted, using the high inertia of the concrete structure to store coolness that is progressively restored during the day.