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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

Beton-hala Waterfront Center in Belgrade, Serbia by Studio Alfirevic

June 24th, 2011 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: Studio Alfirevic

Proposed design promotes an idea of visual and functional merging of the newly designed part with the existing Beton Hala building, to create a unique center for exhibition and commercial use in Belgrade, which also communicates in a mimetic way with Kalemegdan fortress and Sava river’s waterfront.

Night View from Fortress

  • Architect: Studio Alfirevic
  • Name of Project: Beton-hala Waterfront Center
  • Location: Belgrade, Serbia

Building design draws the inspiration from the contextual specifics of the waterfront area (Sava river flow characteristics, old city ambient of Kosančićev venac and Kalemegdan fortress with its park), from which main design motives are abstracted – flows, curves, water, beach, park. In this way the project represents an extension and completion of the existing undefined ambient and nourishes and emphasises its recognized values.

Aerial View

By combining different urban layers (park greenery, old city tissue and waterfront line) the project promotes principles of urban integration and regeneration of neglected spaces. New urban center where nature, people, culture and economy meet generates a new creative “vortex’’ in the Belgrade coastline.

Bird Eye View


Redesign of the existing tram route (line No. 2,11,13) is the essential design statement that creates new motives in the perception of the whole waterfront and lower Kalemegdan area. The goal was to turn the transportation conveyance into an instrument of new city perception. The proposed redesign solution is introducing a new part of the tram route from the crossroad of Tadeuša Košćuška and Cara Dušana street (near Belgrade Zoo), along Vojvode Bojovića boulevard and new waterfront center, and furthermore along Karađorđeva street (Figure 1). The new tram route should pass through the newly designed waterfront center at upper garage level (elevation 79.0).

Aerial View

By prolonging the tram route around the fortress and defining new system of tram stops (Nebojša tower museum, ‘’25.Maj’’ Sport Center…) design activates the lower Kalemegdan city and creates a possible cite-seeing tram route for tourists (Figure 2).

By removing tram traffic from Tadeuša Košćuška street it is made possible to establish a better connection with the main pedestrian route – Knez Mihailova street. It will also be possible to reveal and present recently found excavations of an old Roman castrum that lie beneath the existing tram route in Tadeuša Košćuška street. The slope of the existing tram route that runs down Tadeuša Košćuška street and connects it to Karađorđeva street becomes the main pedestrian access to the new waterfront center (Figure 3). This design solution should activate (in perspective) all the waterfront potentials beneath Kalemegdan fortress and also should provide an opportunity for better spatial use of existing tram route as one of the main pedestrian accesses.

Pedestrian path

Pedestrian accesses

The main pedestrian accesses from the city center (Knez Mihailova street) and Kalemegdan fortess are from the direction of Pariska street (redesigned tram route) and stairs from Kalemegdan fortres promenade (Figure 3). Access from the riverside to the roof of Beton hala (elevation 84.0) is enabled with two new staircases and panoramic elevators (access for bicycles and for disabled persons) on both ends of Beton hala building. The main entrance to the Waterfront Center, staff entrance, and entrance into the commercial part are on the same level (elevation 84.0). From the roof terace level (elevation 84.0) pedestrians have the oportunity to go further to a level 89.3 and level 90.5, where the pedestrian connection of waterfront and city center is made. On the side parts of the Center there are new stairs that allow connection of levels 84.0 and 89.3 with Kosančićev venac foothill and Vojvode Bojovića boulevard.

Night View from the bridge

Garage and vehicles accesses

The main access for vehicles is on the extension of Karađorđeva street (at the Grand stairs bottom) and Vojvode Bojovića boulevard, where also the entrancess to the underground garage (upper level – elevation 79.0) are located. Garage is planned for 780 vehicles and 15 buses. The gas station is planned on the outskirts of the competition area, in the Vojvode Bojovića boulevard (Figure 2).



Design concept of Beton Hala Waterfront Center derives from contextual specifics. Location on the riverside, beneath an old fortress and near the city centre, gave the opportunity for an authentic expression inspired by river flows and riverside motives, such as: water, river isle, river eddy and sand beach. The existing Beton hala building is recognized as an element also derived from the same language, with the facade that follows the coastline and the roof that underlines the border between the coast and the fortress. It was considered essential to preserve these elements. The roof becomes the beach above the water. Cultural and commercial centre roof is acting as a natural bond between the water, beach and green foothill of the fortress. The roof is transforming into ramps, staircases and slopes, enabling communication through the object. A ramp rises along the east facade alongside the Karađorđeva street, dramatizing the sense of arrival at the river.

General Layout Plan


One of the main subjects of the competition – Beton Hala Waterfront Center – is designed as one building that includes all necessary facilities. It consists of 4 levels: roof terrace (elevation 89.3-91.3), main level (elevation 84.0), upper garage level (elevation 79.0-80.5) and lower garage level (elevation 76.0-77.5).

Main Beton Hala Waterfront Center’s level lies on top of existing Beton Hala. The Center is divided into two parts – exhibition and commercial. In front of it is a public space designed to be “urban beach”, giving quality space for all kinds of exhibitions, performances and other activities.


Roof Level

The entrances to the Center are set to be on the river side of the complex, allowing visitors to enter freely from the urban beach plateau. Pedestrians coming from Kalemegdan Park and city center approach the entire complex over grand scale green roof. The roof is designed for resting, leisure and open space activities. The roof represents main surface from which the access to the river bank is possible. Inside the Center dominates exhibition area consisted of main and temporary part. The exhibition area key motive is an atrium, providing interior with natural light and connecting it with the green roof area of the complex.

Main Level

This atrium spreads and collects the view to and from the whole Kalemegdan Park and The Fortress. The other large part of the Center is reserved for public area occupied with commercial space and a restaurant. On the same level of the building are situated management, administration and curators spaces enriched with small leisure areas. Two lower levels of the building contain parking places, storages, maintenance and technical units. All vertical connections to the main hall are provided.


Sections Details


Structure of the new Beton Hala Waterfront Center is mostly concrete skeleton system, with dominating grid of 8x8m, and concrete structural walls. Materialization is derived from the surrounding elements: wood decking for the urban beach, low water pools as elements of the landscape, green roof, structural concrete and steel, higly insulating and low-energy glass facades, bricwork facade on eastern wall towards Vojvode Bojovića boulevard, Karađorđeva street, old city blocks and Kosančićev venac. The Center is designed to be with durable, high quality natural materials so that maintenance cost should be minimal.


Sustainability issues are adressed by design, which means that ecological and social aspects of the new Waterfront Center have been integrated in the design process from the very begining and into the main building concept. By conceiving the Center as a new part of the landscape which merges and intergates with the existing context of the fortress and coastline with its dominant green roof structure, the key solution for various issues of sustainability is achieved.

It respects and improves the existing ambients, providing a sustainable framework for social, economical and natural rehabilitaion of the waterfront area, and also creating impulse for future development of a wider area. Green roof itself is a sustainable structure, which enriches natural habitat, lowers heat isle effect, improves thermal insulation of the building itself and lowers water runoff. The long glass facade opened to the river, as well as atrium and gaps in the roof structure are enabling maximum daylight to enter the building, minimizing the need for artificial lighting. Natural ventilation is made possible in the direstion perpendicular to the long river facing glass facade. It is possible to use geothermal energy for heating and cooling.

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