The location intended for the construction of the new building of the Faculty of Applied Arts, which forms the primary scope of this competition, is in downtown Belgrade, in Karađorđeva street, on the Sava river bank slope, i.e. in the area immediately behind the right bank of the river Sava. The planned construction zone belongs to the area of Old Belgrade - one that testifies to the continuity of an urban settlement at this location from the Roman period to this very day and also to the historical development and growth of the town and of the Kosančićev venac neighbourhood within that town.
Judging by its urban characteristics, the construction typology, the value of the monuments, setting and other assets, this is the most complex and the most attractive area of the city of Belgrade. From the aspect of cultural heritage, the area is invaluable for the city’s culture and identity and its numerous cultural assets (enjoying various protection levels), as well as the protected sight lines and streets have been recognized as a unit - a permanent asset of Belgrade.
Although this area belongs to the old core of downtown Belgrade, it is important for the city in terms of transportation, for, after being reconstructed (in 2020), Karađorđeva street has been relieved of the busy freight traffic, but is still very significant at the level of urban passenger traffic. The Sava river port is the only international passenger port in the city, whereas the Brankov most bridge is the primary link of downtown Belgrade with Novi Beograd, due to which the traffic in this area is extremely busy.
History of the Location - Archaeological, Construction and Cultural Heritage
Picture 4 - The position of the location in relation to the Ancient Singidunum archaeological site
The competition’s span is located within the protected zone of the Ancient Singidunum archaeological site, which was proclaimed a cultural asset in 1964 (Decision of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of the City of Belgrade no. 176/8 of 30 June 1964). In the immediate vicinity of the competition span boundary, towards the Kosancicev venac neighbourhood, archaeological findings and remnants dating not only from the period of the Roman sway in this region, but also from later periods, have been recorded.
Construction and Cultural Heritage in the Remote Surroundings
Although owing to its position by the Sava river and the Belgrade Fortress the competition’s location has been busy and active since the earliest Belgrade settlements, the actual commencement of its urban development and of the formation of its physical and visual features and of the characteristics of its setting that we recognize today - both in the Moat (Šanac) area around the Town Gate (Varoš kapija) and in the Savska varoš town area - the then new, Serb-populated part of Belgrade outside the Moat - is associated with the enactment of the 1830 hatt-i sharif, which provided independence for the Serbian authorities.
The Belgrade Fortress
The Belgrade Fortress is a city fortification, a multi-layered archaeological site and a complex of monuments that emerged and developed in the time span from the 1st to the 19th century AD and around which today’s Belgrade has grown. The strategically favourable position of the reef located at the place where the river Sava flows into the Danube, which prevails over its surroundings and provides conditions for control over the plains stretching towards the north and the east and above the two rivers, has been used for settlements since the prehistoric age.
Picture 5 - Belgrade Fortress 1914 Picture 6 - Belgrade Fortress in the 1960s
Throughout the long period of their formation, the Belgrade fortification evolved from an ancient military camp - the castrum of the Roman Flavia Felix legion (2nd century AD), through a Byzantine castle and the mediaeval fortified town of the Serbian Despotate, a contemporary Austrian/Ottoman artillery fortress bastion, to the moment when, at this very location in 1867, the Belgrade’s Ottoman commander handed over the keys to the town to Prince Mihailo Obrenović. It was then that the significance of the Belgrade (Kalemegdan) Fortress as a military stronghold began to dwindle - however, the Fortress remained subjected to the Serbian army’s military needs, playing its latest great warfare role during the First World War. The various acts of building, demolishing and reconstructing the ramparts of the Belgrade Fortress throughout history reflected the rises and falls of the city of Belgrade and the significance of its role in the past.
Today, the complex of the Belgrade Fortress (the Upper Town and the Lower Town), in spatial and functional terms, forms an integral unit with the Kalemegdan Park (the Great Kalemegdan Park and the Lesser Kalemegdan Park), the planned development of which, at the site of the former Fortress field, which gave Kale-megdan its name, began in 1890, when the army handed the park over to the Belgrade Municipality. The today’s park boundaries were formed in 1931, when the park expanded to include the Upper Town as well. Together, the Belgrade Fortress and the Kalemegdan Park constitute a cultural asset, which was put under protection in 1946 and was proclaimed a cultural monument of exceptional significance in 1979 (Official Gazette of SR Serbia no. 14/79).
Another valuable asset of this area is a series of public monuments, which have been continuously built since the early 20th century - the most famous of them all being a monument that is a symbol of Belgrade - the Monument to the Victor (Pobednik) - a triumphant work of art created by sculptor Ivan Meštrović, which was set up in 1928 to mark the tenth anniversary of the Salonica Front breakthrough.
The Sava River Port
For centuries, ships and boats have been sailing into Belgrade’s harbour on the river Sava’s right bank, playing an essential role in Belgrade’s commercial life. However, up to the early 19th century, before the vassal state of Serbia took charge of transport and customs affairs, the main Belgrade port was on the river Danube.
Picture 7 - the Sava river bank slope and the Sava river port, the second half of the 1880s
Although, after Serbia took charge of the river transport, the Sava river port was urgently established by Prince Miloš’s decision and served for freight and passenger transport all the time, its urban and technological development was not so dynamic. The riverfront was much closer to today’s Karađorđeva street and the entire area up to today’s Brankov most bridge was practically a terminal where ships reached the banks and, with certain kinds of ramps, were then connected with the warehouses, i.e. underground passages (lagums) in Karađorđeva street. The position and shape of the riverfront established in the port zone, which we recognize today, was formed in the 1930s, or, more precisely, in 1939, when the Concrete Hall (Beton hala) structure was built to serve as a customs warehouse.
Since 1961, the Sava River Port has been intended for international passenger traffic only, whereas the freight traffic port has been retransferred onto the Danube.
Back in 1815, an old church was situated at the site of today’s Belgrade Orthodox Cathedral, on the Sava river bank slope, within the Town in the Moat. The settlement around the old church was inhabited by the Serbs, whereas the Danubian bank slope area was populated by various peoples. The Moat, which encircled the town’s area, spanned the area starting from the Sava river port, along the Big Stairs, then along today’s Kosančićev venac, Topličin venac and Obilićev venac streets, up to the Trg Republike square, from where, along today’s Francuska street, Gundulićev venac street and the Dorćol neighbourhood, it reached the Danube’s bank.
Picture 8 - Kosančićev venac neighbourhood in the early 1930s
The development and establishment of an administrative, cultural, religious and social centre and the architectural formation of a new Serbian town of Belgrade began in the late first quarter of the 19th century, around today’s Belgrade Orthodox Cathedral, with the construction of the New Residence (Princess Ljubica’s Residence) in 1830. It was very soon, when the Savska varoš town emerged in the area behind the Sava riverfront, that this activity spread to include the area outside the Moat.
However, it was only several decades later, after the Ottoman Turks left Belgrade, that Kosančićev venac turned into an organized neighbourhood. In the second half of the 19th century, the neighbourhood became closely connected to Knez Mihailova street, Obilićev venac street and the Belgrade Fortress, as well as to Kralja Petra street, in which the main institutions of the then new Serbian state were situated, thus becoming the social and cultural centre of Belgrade.
In this area, especially in the territory of the former Town in the Moat (Varoš u Šancu), a large number of significant valuable historical and architectural assets, originating from the period of the area’s urban planning and development, have been preserved to this very day. The oldest preserved buildings and settings in this neighbourhood date from the period between 1815 and 1867 and represent valuable examples of the traditional architecture of Balkan towns and of types transitioning from traditional to European architecture. Most of the structures forming the setting of today’s Kosančićev venac were built in the late 19th century or after the First World War. One of the memorials within this neighbourhood, which, just like its main street, was named after Ivan Kosančić, a Serbian knight perished in the Battle of Kosovo in 1389, is the site of the former National Library of Serbia, which was destroyed in the Nazi bombing of Belgrade in April 1941.
This area also treasures some historical sites, settlements and necropolises of the Roman city of Singidunum and of the first suburbs outside the former city walls.
In 1971, the Kosančićev venac neighbourhood was proclaimed a cultural monument - an area of the oldest compact Serbian settlement in the town of Belgrade, the first developed administrative, cultural, religious and economic centre of Belgrade in the renewed state of Serbia and part of modern Belgrade with the characteristic visual qualities of its setting (Decision no. 490/1 of the City of Belgrade’s Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of 24 May 1971), whereas, in 1979, the central zone of the Kosančićev venac neighbourhood was established as a cultural and historical area - a cultural asset of great significance (Decision on Establishment, (Official Gazette of SR Serbia no. 14/79).
The following are the highlights of the administrative, religious and social life from the period of the neighbourhood’s formation, which sights are, owing to their very position in the view of the city, important for this competition as well:
The Belgrade Orthodox Cathedral (3 Kneza Sime Markovića street), dedicated to St Michael the Archangel, was built at the site of an old church in 1840, as a single-nave Classicist building with a Baroque belfry, according to a design by Friedrich Adam Querfeld. The act of embracing such a type of sacral buildings, which were characteristic of architecture in the Metropolitanate of Karlovci, marked the beginning of Belgrade’s pursuit of European architectural and artistic trends. Ever since it was built, the Cathedral has occupied the most prominent place in Belgrade’s sacral topography. The main entrance to the Cathedral is marked with the graves of Dositej Obradović and Vuk Karadžić respectively, whereas the building itself houses the graves of Prince Miloš Obrenović, Prince Mihailo Obrenović and some church dignitaries.
Picture 9 - the Belgrade Orthodox Cathedral today
Picture 10- the Belgrade Orthodox Cathedral in 1857, a drawing by Kun Kvic
commons.wikimedia.org Source: ZZSKBGD (City of Belgrade’s Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments)
In 1979, the Cathedral was proclaimed a Serbian cultural monument of exceptional significance (Official Gazette of SR Serbia no. 14/79).
The Nacional Hotel (29 Pariska street - 4 Velike stepenice street) was built and opened in 1869, at the corner of the Big Stairs and today’s Pariska street, at the site of an inn (mehana) owned by priest Dimitrije Vuić, which, after the adoption of the Regulation on Inns (1861) had to be torn down. The hotel was probably built on the basis of a design of its then owner, Anastas Vuić, an architect, in the spirit of European architecture of the time. It was reconstructed and extended several times - originally, it had a garden looking onto the river Sava, whereas the section in Velike stepenice street was added in 1893.
It belonged to a group of so-called “Kalemegdan hotels”, which were built on the Fortress Field (Kalemegdan), a boundary area between the town and the Fortress, immediately after the liberation of Serbian towns in the period from 1867 to 1870. As modern edifices, these hotels indicated the inclusion of an undeveloped town area located in front of the Kalemegdan part in the process of the modernization, of Belgrade, and, symbolically, of the modernization of Serbian society in general. Along with the establishment of national identity, these hotels were adequately named as well: The Serbian King, The Serbian Crown, the National Hotel. Throughout history, the Nacional Hotel changed its owners and purposes - for instance, it served as the Serbian Patriarchate’s premises at the time of the construction of the new Patriarchate building in the early 1930s and also as a “little theatre”, namely the so-called Miniature Theatre, on the eve of the Second World War. Ever since the Second World War, the hotel has never resumed its original purpose nor any function of a catering or public use facility - it was first converted into a Jugolek company warehouse and, in the end, it assumed its present function - of a branch office of the Social Insurace Bureau - today the Republic Fund for Pension and Social Insurance - Belgrade Branch Office. The Nacional Hotel was proclaimed a cultural monument in 1984. (Official Journal of the City of Belgrade, no. 23/84)
Picture 11 - the “Nacional” Hotel, 1925
source: ZZSKBGD (City of Belgrade’s Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments)
The House of Dimitrije Krsmanović, a member of an eminent and affluent family of merchants (2 Kneza Sime Markovića street), was built in 1898-99, as a representative family home, on the basis of the design of architect Milorad Ruvidić, Positioned at the corner of the block formed by the following streets: Kneza Sime Markovića, Kralja Petra and Kosančićev venac, and designed in the style of academism, facing the Kalemegdan park with its front façade, it forms a silhouette of the Kosančićev venac area boundary together with the Cathedral and the Patriarchate building. The House of Dimitrije Krsmanović occupies a prominent position both in the situation plan of the central downtown area and as a landmark of the historical development of urban architecture in Belgrade’s territory.
Since 1955, this edifice has housed the diplomatic and consular representative office of the Austrian Embassy.
The House of Dimitrije Krsmanović was proclaimed a cultural monument in 1987 (Official Journal of the City of Belgrade, no. 16/87).
Picture 12 - The House of Dimitrije Krsmanović in 1914 Picture 13 - The House of Dimitrije Krsmanović today
photo: Milena Arsenić
The House of Mika Alas, the famous Serbian mathematician, theorist and inventor (at 22, Kosančićev venac street) was built in 1910 on the basis of a design by architect Petar Bajalović. This one-floor building has been formed in a traditional manner, whereas the main façade was conceived according to architectural requirements of the early 20th century and was vivified with a combination of Art Nouveau floral motifs and elements of the Serbian Byzantine style.
The House of Mika Alas was proclaimed a cultural monument in 1966 (Decision no. 924/3 of the City of Belgrade’s Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of 26 December 1966).
Picture 14 - the House of Mika Alas in the 1920s
source: ZZSKBGD (City of Belgrade’s Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments)
Between the two world wards - in the period from 1918 to 1941, in the area of today’s Kosančićev venac neighbourhood, quite a few new buildings were constructed and the level of residential culture and communal equipment was considerably improved. The significant edifices most prominent in that visual setting are the following:
The Patriarchate building (6 Kneza Sime Markovića street - 5 Kralja Petra street) was built according to the design of Russian architect Viktor Lukomski, in the period from 1933 to 1935, at the site of the former Metropolitanate building, which was built in 1863. The purpose of the building determined its monumentality and the modernized version of the Serbian-Byzantine style in which it was built. The Patriarchate building also houses the Chapel of Saint Simeon the Myrrh-Gusher, as well as the Patriarchate Library and the Museum of the Serbian Orthodox Church. It derives its significance primarily from the function and continuity of the place in which it is located. The Patriarchate building has been proclaimed a cultural monument (Official Journal of the City of Belgrade, no. 23/84).
Picture 15 - the Serbian Orthodox Church Patriarchate building
source: ZZSKBGD (City of Belgrade’s Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments)
In the same period, at a dominant position (19 Kosančićev venac street) and partly in the background of the competition location, a huge business building of the Financial Directorate was built; later it housed the Institute for Geophysics, whereas today it is knowns as the building of the Belgrade University of Arts’ Rectorate. The building has been conceived in the style of academism, with some interwar Art Nouveau elements, and is a representative structure within the area.
Thus the setting of the Kosančićev venac neighbourhood which we know today has been formed, save for the buildings devastated in the Second World War, which, despite the considerable losses, has not altered the character of this area. After the Second World War, till the beginning of the 21st century, the Kosančićev venac neighbourhood did not undergo any important physical changes.
The Savska varoš town
Parallel with the development of the Kosančićev venac neighbourhood around the Town Gate (Varoš-kapija), it was outside the Moat, towards the river Sava, along today’s Karađorđeva street, that the Savska varoš town grew, along with the area within that settlement which is especially important for the competition’s theme, namely the area stretching from the Sava River Gate (which was located on the Sava river bank, opposite today’s Big Stairs) to today’s Brankov most bridge. The area was dubbed Savska jalija or Savski Liman by the Ottomans.
One of the primary generators of that development was the relocation of the Belgrade Port from the Danube to the river Sava and the Serbian state’s taking charge of transport and customs (đumruk) affairs, which initiated the construction process necessary for meeting the newly-emerged needs.
15, Karađorđeva street
Very soon after the transformation of the Savske jalije area began, one of the first newly-built structures - the “Kragujevac” Hotel, was built in the competition’s span area. It was solely the port that dictated the necessity for building a large hotel and a tavern which as well was named Kragujevac.
Picture 16 - the “Kragujevac” Hotel, early 20th century
Picture 17 - the “Kragujevac” Hotel building - demolition
Initially, the hotel fully satisfied the needs of merchants for lodging and socializing; however, in time, as the whole neighbourhood grew and as more modern structures of the same type were built, the hotel’s purpose was eventually reduced to a venue where passengers and other people waited for the respective departure and arrival of ships. The “Kragujevac” Hotel building had no architectural, technological or any other value. In the Second World War, when Belgrade was bombed by the Allies (1944), the hotel was damaged and was torn down soon after the war.
13, Karađorđeva street
The Đumrukana (Customs House) was one of the first structures built upon activation of the Sava river port, for the purpose of international trade activities; it was located at 13 Karađorđeva street and was adjacent to the “Kragujevac” Hotel building. The port’s Customs House was constructed in 1834 or 1835, as one of the first buildings in the port zone and a symbol of its significance in terms of trade.
Đumrukana was one of the first buildings in this region which were entirely built of solid materials - stone and brick - and is also regarded as the first public building in Belgrade constructed under the dominant influence of European architecture and Western concepts. Its front façade was decorated with arcades at the ground floor level; the arcades were formed of 11 semi-circular arches reposed on square cross section columns. On the first floor, there were 17 windows, the middle one being highlighted with a balcony and, in some short period in the 1850s, with a triangular gable in the roof.
One cannot tell for certain who designed this edifice - some sources mention Franz Janke, whereas others point to the chief builder of Prince Miloš - Hadži Nikola Živković, who undoubtedly managed the construction of Đumrukana.
The edifice boasted one of the largest halls in Belgrade and thus, as it was a venue suitable for theatre performances, in 1841, during the first reign of Prince Mihailo Obrenović, the first theatre in Belgrade, the Theatre on Đumruk, was opened there. Although it was rather short-lived, from 1841 to 1842, the Theatre on Đumruk left its mark in Serbia’s history, having laid the foundations of the modern Serbian theatre.
Although the building at 13 Karađorđeva street boasted no impressive artistic value, its solidity, as well as the lack of edifices in the immediate surroundings that were valuable in terms of either their architecture or setting, at least in the first phase of the area’s development, enabled it to, in combination with the adjacent, slightly older “Kragujevac” Hotel building, constitute a prominent part of the view of Belgrade and of the Sava river bank slope until the Kapetanija (Port Authority) building was built right in front of it in 1889.
Picture 18 Đumrukana as it looked in 1936 Picture 19 - Demolition of the Đumrukana building
Like the adjacent Kragujevac Hotel, Đumrukana was damaged in the 1944 bombing by the Allies and was eventually torn down in 1945 during the clearing of the rubble left after the war.
The Big Stairs/Velike stepenice
When the Sava river port was activated in the 1730s, this became one of the most vivid and busy areas of Belgrade as goods were exported and imported here, at the state border.
The Big Stairs were built in 1862, on the order of Prince Mihailo Obrenović, who financed the construction. Their purpose was to connect downtown Belgrade with the Sava river bank and the Sava river port. The stairs were thus named in 1872, although the Belgrade Fortress already treasured (and still does) a staircase called the Big Staircase, which connects the Fortress’s Upper Town with the Sava river bank.
Picture 20 - Big Stairs in the 1930s Picture 21 - Big Stairs today
As, from the moment when Serbia was granted autonomy, the border on the Sava river bank became the busiest one in the country, which boosted not only trade, but also the European cultural impact, it was in the last 19th and early 20th century numerous commercial, social and cultural facilities developed in the area around Karađorđeva street, which connects the Sava river port and the Railway Station. In time, this part of the city became a trade and financial centre, within which the first bourgeoisie was formed and from where, after an immensely long period under the Ottoman sway, the contact with Europe was reestablished.
Picture 22 - Savski liman and part of the Kosančićev venac neighbourhood in the 1920s
From the renewal of the Serbian state after the end of the Ottoman rule till the creation of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, in less than a hundred years, the former Belgrade suburbs, namely the Sava mahala and Savski liman, became, owing to their position at the very border crossing between Serbia and Austria, and also due to customs activities and trade, the centre of economic and financial power of the Serbian state. Such economic growth also led to urban development and to the transformation of this area into a new city centre with an authentic atmosphere, which completely transformed the image of the city, while the numerous architecturally valuable structures built in that period are today’s cultural monuments.
The significance of Karađorđeva street in its prime was also manifested in the fact that it was the place of residence to numerous high officials, statesmen and consults, a place of lodging for various distinguished guests from abroad, including members of the British royal family, but also through the fact that the price of the square meter of residence in that street was five times higher than that in the downtown Knez Mihailova street - today’s most central street in Belgrade.
The geopolitical changes occurring after the First World War, the formation of a new state -the Kingdom of the Serbs, the Croats and the Slovenes, , the capital of which is Belgrade, whereby the river Sava ceased to mark the border, caused a decline of this part of the Sava riverfront. As the establishment of railway traffic and the construction of a railway linewasone ofthegenerators of development, it was in the changed circumstances that the same railway line, as early as after the First World War, became a generator of the area’s devastation by preventing the city from “descending to the river”.
In the Second World War, the Belgrade river bank zone underwent considerable devastations.
After the Second World War, the interest of the city’s urban development was oriented in such a way as to neglect and subsequently devastate a large part of this area.
The Remote and Immediate Surroundings
The General Characteristics of the Area - the Current Situation
The setting, i.e. the competition span area, has been primarily determined with the Kosančićev venac neighborhood slope and Karađorđeva street, which, together with the adjacent Belgrade Fortress and the Sava port riverfront, constitute the most significant and, throughout history, the most famous “cityscape” of Belgrade.
The view of the Belgrade Fortress and the Kosančićev venac neighborhood from the river Sava, as well as the view from the Belgrade Fortress and the Kosančićev venac neighborhood onto the river Sava and onto Novi Beograd on the river’s left bank represent a special, unique and exceptional value of this area.
Picture 23 – the Sava river bank slope, the Sava river port and the Belgrade Fortress, 2015. © www.wordpress.com_mladenkesic
Within the immediate and remote surroundings of the competition span, a series of recently completed interventions has affirmed the connection of this part of the city with the river and has enabled a higher quality and more efficient access to the Sava riverfront - the railway line has been removed, an overpass connecting the Belgrade Fortress with the Sava river promenade has been constructed and, through the reconstruction of a section of Karađorđeva street, a series of mutual connections between that street and the Sava river promenade has been realized.
As a single unit, the Belgrade Fortress (the Upper Town and the Lower Town) and the Kalemegdan Park (the Great Kalemegdan Park and the Lesser Kalemegdan Park) form one of the most significant, if not the most significant, landmark of Belgrade, with which Karađorđeva street is connected by means of the Big Stairs (Velike stepenice street).
Although being a cultural asset under the highest protection, this is a very active area, which abounds in various facilities and attracts a large number of visitors. The park and the fortress shelter the Military Museum, the “Cvijeta Zuzorić” Art Pavilion, the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of the City of Belgrade, the Zoo, the Roman Well, a children’s amusement park, the Tomb of WWII Heroes, a large number of sports playgrounds and restaurants and the Natural History Museum. The current setting of the Sava river port, which is today intended for international passenger transport, and of the Sava river promenade, one of the accesses to which from Karađorđeva street is positioned opposite the location covered by the competition, nowadays more affirmative than ever before, has been formed in the past fifteen years. The main facility of the port zone, in the formal sense, namely the international passenger terminal facility, was executed in 2006 on the basis of the award-winning competition design of architects Milan Đurić and Aleksandru Vuja. Although of modest capacities, this terminal has all the facilities required for welcoming and serving the passengers.
Picture 24 - the Sava river port and Kosančićev venac, 2016 ©www.serbia-touroperator.com_wp-conten
Beton hala is by all means the most attractive stationary area of this part of the Sava river bank, which has the most facilities and attracts the largest number of visitors. Today, this former customs warehouse houses a series of high-quality gastro bars, restaurants, cafés and clubs, which command a beautiful view of the river Sava and Novi Beograd and constitute a specific gastro districts which attracts Belgraders and tourists alike and which, although quite expected at such a location, could also be regarded as a form of tourist attraction. The Beton hala roof, which, in 2012, was converted into a parking lot with 400 parking spaces, can be accessed from Bulevar vojvode Putnika street.
It was upon the relocation of the railway line (2018) and the completion of the reconstruction of undeveloped areas (2021) in terms of organization, facilities and setting, that an essential element of the context of this zone - the Sava river promenade - eventually lost the character of a “cargo port” and, in accordance with its potentials in terms of its position and the preferences of the gravitating users, grew into an urban hiking and recreational zone by the river. In 2020, in addition to the reconstruction of the significantly improved pedestrian ties with Karađorđeva street, a pedestrian overpass, connecting the Sava river promenade with the Belgrade Fortress, was completed. This overpass, its visually most dominant part being positioned along Beton hala’s western wall, was designed by a team of sculptors - Richard Deacon and Mrđan Bajić - in cooperation with architect Branislav Mitrović (a member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts) and the CIP Transportation Institute.
The new situation certainly entails a more frequent use of this area in future, including the participation of new groups of users; besides, another frequently used facility today is a continual and systematically formed recreational Belgrade cycling track along the Sava river promenade, which connects the Ada Ciganlija island resort on the river Sava and the Marina Dorćol harbour on the Danube.
Picture 25 - Sava river promenade, 2021 ©www.skyscrapercity.com
The Kosančićev venac neighbourhood, which constitutes an immediate setting and background to the competition span’s location, represents the oldest compact urban unit in Belgrade. This area, the preserved old street core of which had emerged mostly spontaneously, consists, physically and in terms of the setting, of stylistically heterogeneous buildings dating from various periods, the initial architectural and aesthetic values of which were mainly, however, at a high level. Although not a totally compact unit - an area not unified in terms of the chronology of its origins, typology or style - the Kosančićev venac neighbourhood is the oldest preserved urban tissue which has been continually inhabited by the Serbs.
Picture 26 – Kosančićev venac around 2015. ©Stefan van der SPEK
To this very day, this area has preserved a special place in the history and cultural memory of the people of Belgrade and it represents one of the city’s major symbols, a semantic landmark and a place of sociological identification. Although no longer a venue of active social development, the Kosančićev venac neighbourhood boasts some elements which have been continuously preserved and cherished since the moment when the first institution important for the creation of modern Serbia was established.
Recognized as and proclaimed a cultural monument, the Kosančićev venac neighbourhood succeeded in surviving the periods of general degradation of architectural values in the recent past and, for the most part, managed to preserve its authenticity. Unfortunately, during that long period, the quality of the constructed buildings and developed space constantly declined, the neighbourhood’s very character and Bohemian charm preventing it, however, from appearing totally neglected.
It was only in the past decade that the activity on the reevaluation of the Kosančićev venac neighbourhood intensified, up to the point of turning the area into a polygon for contemporary spatial interventions.
Throughout its history, the Kosančićev venac neighbourhood had an “individual” history of its own, which was not always related to other social developments; regardless of the stagnation in urban development and the comparative devastation of the city in the period after the Second World War and till the late 20th century, this area, unlike Karađorđeva street, never lost the image of a “fancy” neighbourhood in the mental map of Belgrade’s inhabitants - it remained a desirable neighbourhood for living and also for working, especially in the fields of restaurant management, specific forms of trade and services and various artistic practices.
As one of the Belgrade’s oldest neighbourhoods, it commands superb views of the river Sava, of the place where it flows into the Danube and of Novi Beograd as well; it abounds in numerous cafés and restaurants and also in facilities suitable for the presentation of art, namely art galleries and studios, all of which ranks it into the highest category of the city’s tourist offer.
Karađorđeva street, part of which is a constituent part of the competition span (15, Karađorđeva street), spans the area from the foot of the Belgrade Fortress, along the Sava river bank, across the Savamala neighbourhood, right to the until recently active Main Railway Station on the Savski trg square. Its very route, which connects the river traffic hubs with the railway ones - both being the key generators of Belgrade’s development as an urban centre - implies its significance as a testimony to the urbanization and formation of a modern city.
The current situation of the street’s setting, following the decades-long, almost a century-long period of stagnation and devastation, marks a phase of restoration and of the initiation of new development. The very situation of relocation of a railway line (2018), the route of which within the zone ran right along Karađorđeva street, and the termination of its function of a transit cargo artery, as well as the reconstruction and development of the street’s traffic profile (2020), represent an essential progress towards the affirmation of the area’s potentials.
Except for certain buildings with a high historical, or a not so frequent setting-related value, which date from the period of the formation and initial development of this area, the current structures that have been built on the plots along the southern regulation of the streets are mostly architecturally obscure and ephemeral and imply a temporary, transient character regardless of their purpose. There are very few new structures in the close vicinity, while interventions exerting influence on the setting are not so extensive and are, unfortunately, lacking in the required quality.
Picture 27 - Karađorđeva street in the competition span zone 2021
The structures in Karađorđeva street were, besides residence, which had been changed in quality due to the new character of traffic, and as early as in the first decade of the 21st century, also intended for goods storage and trade in reproductive materials and services related thereto, especially in the zone of the immediate setting of the aforesaid location. The formation of the elements of creative and cultural industries in the Savamala neighbourhood since 2010, as well as the increasing interest of tourists in this part of the city, initiated in Karađorđeva street as well the formation of new restaurant and similar facilities, which changed the image of the area considerably, making it much more vivid.
The General Characteristics of the Area - the Planned Situation
The planned interventions within the competition span location have been defined by the Detailed Regulation Plan of the Kosančićev venac neighbourhood (Official Journal of the City of Belgrade no. 37/2007), including the adopted Amendments to the Detailed Regulation Plan of the Kosančićev venac neighbourhood for the section of the block between the following streets: Karađorđeva street, Velike stepenice and Kosančićev venac, in the City Municipality of Stari grad (Official Journal of the City of Belgrade no. 76/21).
What, in relation to the planned situation of the competition span’s setting, the Detailed Regulation Plan of the Kosančićev venac neighbourhood defines, at the general level, as goals and expected effects and which forms the basis for further development of this area, concerns the following:
- the protection of the spatial cultural and historical unit of Kosančićev venac through further preservation of tangible and intangible assets and the inclusion of the cultural, historical and architectural heritage in the modern trends of urban life;
- the protection of views from this area and onto this area, as it constitutes the formation of Belgrade’s unique cityscape;
- the creation of conditions for the execution of new pedestrian communications and the connection of Karađorđeva street with Kosančićev venac street;
- the creation of conditions for the new values of the setting and for the promotion of living conditions;
- the execution of a public-purpose building - the City Gallery;
- the increase of the values of the unit’s setting through the removal of the present structures with no special value and the construction of new buildings and the development of public-purpose areas according to the highest standards or urban planning, architectural and landscape design, which is in harmony with the setting of this cultural and historical unit, its status of a cultural monument, the protection measures and the planned purposes.
In the terms of the physical structure of the immediate setting, which, together with the competition span location, forms the visual character of the central zone the Kosančićev venac slope, new construction, according to data from the Detailed Regulation Plan, can be expected at the following locations:
- 21 Kosančićev venac street - The present structure to be removed A new structure, the purpose of which is residence for a family, has been planned and it ought to be harmonized height-wise with the adjacent building, no. 19, whereas the façade looking onto the yard, which is visible from Karađorđeva street, ought to be executed with special care.
- 25 Kosančićev venac street - The present structure to be removed A new structure, the purpose of which is residence for a family, has been planned and it ought to be harmonized height-wise with the adjacent building, no. 23, whereas the façade looking onto the yard, which is visible from Karađorđeva street, ought to be executed with special care.
- 27 Kosančićev venac street - The present structure to be removed The Planned City Gallery
- 13 Karađorđeva street - an area where Đumrukana (Customs House) was located - according to the planned regulation, part of the area on which Đumrukana was located belongs to the Karađorđeva street’s area today. The current structures on this location are to be removed. The torn down Đumrukana structure on the planned regulation of Karađorđeva street is to be reconstructed and a new structure in the background is to be built. The planned cornice level of the planned structure in Đumrukana’s background equals the maximum height of the cornice level of the original Đumrukana structure, except in the part where a fly tower is planned, the maximum height of which must not exceed 3.0m above Đumrukana’s roof level.
- 15a Karađorđeva street - The present structure to be removed The planned little stairs/male stepenice and an inclined elevator (as part of the connection of Karađorđeva street with Kosančićev venac street), a pedestrian and infrastructural connection with the city gallery and an access to the underground passage (lagum).
All the planned interventions must be adapted, through their position and volumetrics, to the topography of the place, which represents an original and permanent value - an inseparable unity of a natural formation and urban construction.
The City Gallery project at Kosančićev venac (27 Kosančićev venac street, according to the Detailed Regulation Plan of Construction Plot J9-2) is currently undergoing the phase of elaboration of project documentation, on the basis of the design by architect Branislav Redžić and the ARCVS team of authors, which design won at the Urban Planning and Architectural Competition (2016).
The City Gallery structure was conceived in such a way that, in terms of form, function and setting, it should become an integral segment of the Kosančićev venac slope and neighbourhood. The morphological characteristics of the planned structure are such as to enable pedestrian connections of Kosančićev venac street with the slope area and the new walkways. The positioning of the largest part of the gallery’s premises in the underground levels enabled the formation of one of the major features of the design - a viewing terrace, which has been planned as part of the Gallery’s exhibition space and which commands uninterrupted views onto the river Sava, Novi Beograd and the confluence of the Sava into the Danube. On the lower levels, the structure’s boundaries overlap with the slope’s structure and the material used is brick.
Pictures 28 а,б – the Gallery at Kosančićev venac, a competition design https://arcvs.com/portfolio/kosancicev-venac-city-gallery/
As for the structures important for the functioning of the pedestrian tracks and of the appurtenant activities, to be located in the immediate surroundings of the competition span, which has a definite impact on the visual character of the overall setting, the Detailed Regulation Plan of the Kosančićev venac neighbourhood defines the following:
- 15a Karađorđeva street, which forms part of cadastral polot 1950/1 Cadastral Community Stari grad (according to the Detailed Regulation Plan of Construction Plot SP7-2), which, from the southern side, adjoins the competition span area - little stairs/male stepenice and an inclined elevator connecting Karađorđeva street at an altitude of 77 meters with the plateau in front of the City Gallery at an altitude of 91 meters. The aforesaid contents have been planned as a public surface with landscape architecture and greenery, where the pedestrian communication of the stairs has been dimensioned in accordance with the pedestrian load and the inclined elevator is an outdoor one, with no “changing slope” and with two stops (the starting and the last one). The design of the planned contents ought to provide an uninterrupted view from the altitude of 91.00 meters to the altitude of 77.00 meters (Karađorđeva street), which view must not be hidden even by the selected vegetation.
- On the location at the middle level between the Kosančićev venac plateau and Karađorđeva street, in the section from the planned City Gallery’s plot to the Big Stairs, at the level of 91.00 meters of altitude, which is formed of cadastral plots 1948/2, 1949/7 1949/10 and of parts of cadastral plots 1948/1 and 1950/1, all of Cadastral Community Stari grad (according to the Detailed Regulation Plan of Construction Plot ZPZ), which, from the eastern side, adjoins the competition span area - a Pedestrian Communication - a Promenade - has been planned.
The planned promenade - a pedestrian communication and public surface with landscape architecture, greenery and adequate street furniture - has a multiple role. The functional pedestrian connection of the middle level of the section of the Kosančićev venac reef with the Big Stairs and the planned little stairs/male stepenice (BP SP7-2) enriches the pedestrian communications, improves the setting, provides the possibility of the opening of new lines of vision and facilitates the mastering of the difference in levels, whereas the public surface of the pedestrian promenade also has a role of an overhaul element for the Kosančićev venac slope. When designing the planned contents, one should also consider the fact that the promenade is a viewing point from which especially valuable views towards the river and Novi Beograd are realized and also that it is necessary to preserve and protect the high vegetation and the more valuable specimens of dendroflora to the maximum extent. The pedestrian communication should be secured with a fence (min. N=1.20m) towards Construction Plot J9-1 (the “Đumrukana” multifunctional cultural structure) and Construction Plot J4-2 (the Faculty of Applied Arts). In accordance with the guidelines for the implementation of the Detailed Regulation Plan for Construction Plot ZPZ, a project urban planning and architectural competition has been planned.
- on the location which forms part of cadastral plot 1950/1 Cadastral Community Stari grad (according to the Detailed Regulation Plan of Construction Plot SA-1) and which adjoins the competiton span area from the northern side, an Integrated Road and Pedestrian Track has been planned for the purposes of road access to Construction Plot J9-1 (the “Đumrukana” multifunctional cultural structure) and to Construction Plot J4-2 (the Faculty of Applied Arts). The planned access is at the level of Karađorđeva street, but it is possible to determine another level for the purpose of accessing the underground levels of these plots, provided that the pavement level should be preserved at the minimum distance of 5.0 m from the pavement. The integrated road and pedestrian track is 6.0 meters’ wide.
- On the location between the planned Pedestrian Communication - Promenade, the Faculty of Applied Arts’s Rectorate plot, the planned City Gallery’s plot and Kosančićev venac street, which forms part of cadastral plot 1950/1 Cadastral Community Stari grad (according to the Detailed Regulation Plan of Construction Plot ZP1-1), a Green Area - Park has been planned as a green surface with landscape architecture and a representative character, which connects the levels of 98 meters of altitude (Kosančićev venac street) and of 91 meters of altitude (the pedestrian promenade). When designing the planned park, special attention should be dedicated to the connection of this area with the planned City Gallery and the setting up of adequate street furniture can be realized along the edge of the green surface.
- On the location between the plot of the planned little stairs/male stepenice and an inclined elevator, the the planned City Gallery’s plot and cadastral plots 1950/3 and 1951/1, both in Cadastral Community Stari grad, which forms part of cadastral plot 1950/1 Cadastral Community Stari grad (according to the Detailed Regulation Plan of Construction Plot ZP1-2), a Green Area - Park has been planned as a green surface with landscape architecture When designing the planned park, special attention should be dedicated to the connection of this area with the planned little stairs/male stepenice and the inclined elevator.
In relation to the planned inteventions in the immediate vicinity of the competition span area, the Detailed Regulation Plan of the Kosančićev venac neighbourhood (Official Journal of the City of Belgrade no. 37/2007) also includes the revitalization and activation of the present underground passages (lagums) and their adaptation into spaces to serve an adequate purpose, whereby the functional and architectural marks of this area would be expanded and completed and the attractiveness of the entire area would increase. In the close vicinity of the competition span zone, the accesses to the lagums are located in the background of the plots the structures of which are located at no. 13, no. 17 and no. 19 Karađorđeva street. The floors of the lagums are at the level of some 78 meters of altitude.
Special Characteristics of the Area
The climate in Belgrade is a temperately continental one, with four seasons and approximately 2,096 sunny hours in a year. The average annual precipitation quantity is 669.5mm. The most days with precipitations: in April, June and December.
The area belongs to the Centre topoclimatic zone, which is characterized by an average annual temperature of 12.3 ° C, in the total span of around -20, 0 ° C to around 40.0 ° C in extreme situations. The number of days with temperatures higher than 25 °C is 95 per year.
Belgrade is a windy area exposed to winds from the southeast, northeast, north and northwest. Calm periods are rare and occur mostly during summer. The most common and the strongest southeast wind is košava, which blows throughout the year, with its peak intensity in September and during winter and the average speed ranging from 25 to 45km/h and with storms up to 130km/h, to which, considering the orientation, the area covered by the competition is not directly exposed. The coldest winter winds are the northern and northwestern winds, to which the competition span area is exposed.
The undeveloped surfaces of the slope between Kosančićev venac and Karađorđeva streets are mostly steep, unarticulated and neglected, overgrown by tall grass and low vegetation, with occasional tree specimens.
The forms of a one-line tree avenue appear along Kosančićev venac street, the prevailing ones being some decades-old linden trees, which differ in age, dimensions and quality.
During the recently completed reconstruction process, a new tree avenue was planted along the eastern pavement of Karađorđeva street, from the Brankov most bridge to Pariska street. The current green surfaces with occasional high vegetation, situated within the Sava river promenade on the west side of Karađorđeva street, were rearranged and improved during the reconstruction of the promenade.
In the competition span’s area itself, there are no significant green surfaces or individual examples of trees the preservation of which is necessary.
As it was already mentioned, the immediate surroundings of the competition span area, although characterized by very busy traffic and with a high concentration of various types of traffic, is, as of recently, no longer a city transit strip. The relocation of the Railway Station and the Bus Terminal, as well as the completion of all the elements of a Belgrade ring road, which are important for this route, led to the exclusion of some specific traffic categories, namely the railway traffic, international coach traffic and bus traffic from this area, which improves the area’s quality and makes its potentials feasible.
Road and Street Network
The most significant traffic artery for the competition span area is Karađorđeva street, into which the competition location exits through its regulation and from which the only road access has been provided.
Karađorđeva street is a traffic artery with variable regulation width, which also contains tram yards in its profile. The artery’s profile falls within the competition span zone, from the Brankov most bridge to Pariska street, and has been determined for a two-way traffic regime, with pavements of variable width from the either side and with tram yards in the middle.
The reconstruction of Karađorđeva street, with the accompanying infrastructure and landscape architecture, from the Brankov most bridge to Pariska street, was completed in 2020. Although within the competition span zone, according to the Detailed Regulation Plan of the Kosančićev venac neighbourhood and the adopted amendments to the Detailed Regulation Plan, the profile of Karađorđeva street was planned for expansion, the reconstruction was executed in the previous profile and the surface in front of the competition location was paved in the form of expanded pavement.
The competition span’s wider area includes busy pedestrian traffic, the intensity of which varies depending on the time of the day, the day in the week and the period of the year.
The pedestrian traffic along Karađorđeva street operates on the pavements and on the Sava river promenade, whereas the capacity of the area intended for pedestrians has been visibly enlarged through the reconstruction of the observed part of Karađorđeva street and the Sava river promenade. On the Kosančićev venac slope, the Big Stairs and the Little Stairs are used as the most important pedestrian connections between the Sava river bank and the city’s central zone.
The relative inadequacy in connectivity and the poor state of the pedestrian surfaces appears to be the main problem in the creation of continuity in pedestrian traffic.
Velike stepenice (Big Stairs) street, located in the close vicinity of the competition span zone and, in its present condition, very important for that zone, represents the most significant pedestrian route connecting Kosančićev venac with the Sava river promenade and Pariska street with Karađorđeva street . The Big Stairs also have a specific cultural and historical importance, which, along with pedestrian traffic, generates other types of activities as well, oriented towards tourism and entertainment.
The Little Stairs, which connect Karađorđeva street and Fruškogorska street, are in the immediate vicinity of the Brankov most bridge and do not exert direct influence on the competition span area.
By the adopted Amendments to the Detailed Regulation Plan of the Kosančićev venac neighbourhood and as the first neighbour adjoining the southern boundary of the plot covered by this competition, a new pedestrian connection in the form of a staircase and an inclined elevator - funicular has been planned, the execution of which will lead to a much more efficient connection of the newly-planned facilities with Kosančićev venac and with the entire central zone of the city.
The cycling tracks along the Sava river bank, in the close vicinity of the competition location, form part of a developed route of cycling tracks in Belgrade, along the Sava and Danube river banks.
Public City Transport
The public city transportation lines, namely the Public City Transporation’s subsystem of trams, serve the competition area’s wider zone. The tram transport represents the primary direct communication of the location covered by the competition with various parts of the city.
The vicinity of the river Sava and the Sava river port, although not very important for the planned contents, is another accessible resource for the location covered by the competition. During the nautical tourism season, some 70,000 tourists arrive in Belgrade through the international passenger terminal, which is located just opposite the competition span location.
This central city area, which is characterized by very busy traffic, is also an intersection of infrastructural networks of various capacities. The supply of water to the Sava river slope area is conducted through a waterworks network route, positioned beneath the pavement of Karađorđeva street.
The Sava river slope area belongs to the central system of the city sewerage network, is of a general type and is not to undergo any planned changes. Through the current overflows, the atmospheric waters are separated and introduced into the river Sava through the current collector in Karađorđeva street. The current ducts of the electrical distribution system have been executed underground. The present traffic arteries have been equipped with public lighting installations. Along Karađorđeva street, there is a Public City Transporation’s tram contact network, which has been connected through middle columns, with no ties on the structures.
The planned routes of the network and facilities of infrastructure of interest for the competition area have been shown in Enclosures to the Competition Documentation - Excerpt from the Planned Documentation - a Synchronized Plan in Accordance with the Amendments to the Detailed Regulation Plan of the Kosančićev venac neighbourhood for the Part of the Block between Karađorđeva street, Velike stepenice street and Kosančićev venac street, the City Municipality of Stari grad (Official Journal of the City of Belgrade no. 76/21)
Lines of Vision
Kosančićev venac, along with the Belgrade Fortress, constitutes an essential and the most valuable part of the cityscape, which takes part in the formation of Belgrade’s image. With some landmarks dominating the view (the Cathedral and the Patriarchate building), the horizontals of the built structures and its physical connection with the Belgrade Fortress, this neighbourhood forms an authentic and unique line of vision of a unique historical European city.
The views from this area and onto this area, which constitutes the formation of Belgrade’s unique cityscape, have always been the object of planned protection.
The Kosančićev venac neighbourhood can be viewed from several directions - from the river Sava, as a segment of the oldest historical part of the city in the overall panorama of Belgrade, from the position of the Sava river promenade at the Belgrade Fortress, from which poin it can be seen very clearly, and also from Novi Beograd, from the bridges on the river Sava and from the Sava river bank.
The competition spana area, as a visual segment of the Kosančićev venac slope, belongs to the zone which forms the core of the visual value.
The Competition Scope
Picture 29 - Competition Scope - Remote Surroundings
The competition span area, on the slope of the river Sava’s right bank at 15 Karađorđeva street, forms part of cadastral plot 1950/1 Cadastral Community Stari grad.
In its present condition, the spatial configuration and the visual identity of its close surroundings, in the formation of which a significant number of highly valuable and specific buildings of the city’s architectural heritage take part, makes the location’s potentials immeasurable in their context. As mentioned before, at 15 Karađorđeva street, from the very beginning of the development of the Sava river port in the 19th century, there was hotel named Kragujevac, which was damaged in the Allied bombing in 1944 and, soon after the end of the war, was torn down together with the adjacent Đumrukana (Customs House) building.
Since the end of the Second World War, several provisional structures have been built in the planned construction zone. A structure on the regulation of Karađorđeva street has been used as a temporary school facility by the Faculty of Applied Arts since 1960 and it was until very recently that the barracks in the yard on the plot were primarily used for trade in reproductive materials. In 2015, the façade of the Faculty of Applied Arts’ building was “with a view of the promotion of modern art and in oder to mitigate the grey effect of Karađorđeva street and render the street more beautiful”, was executed in very emphasized colours through the process of artistic work of a postgraduate student, Vuk Ćuk.
All the structures on the plot will be torn down when the plot starts to serve its purpose.
Picture 30 - the Competition Area Viewed from the River
https://www.politika.rs/scc/clanak/468548/Test-za-Kosancicev-venac-na-maketi, photo: D. Mučibabić
The location on which the construction of a new building of the Faculty of Applied Arts is planned, borders, from all the four sides, on the following current and planned public-purpose surfaces:
- the regulation of Karađorđeva street from the west side
- the plot of the planned pedestrian communication of the little stairs and an inclined elevator (according to the Detailed Regulation Plan of Construction Plot SP7-2) from the south side
- the plot of the planned Pedestrian Communication - Promenade at the level of 91.00 meters of altitude (according to the Detailed Regulation Plan of Construction Plot ZPZ) and the planned City Gallery (according to the Detailed Regulation Plan of Construction Plot J9-2) from the east side and
- the plot of the planned Integrated Road and Pedestrian Track (according to the Detailed Regulation Plan of Construction Plot SA-1) and the “Đumrukana” Multifunctional Cultural Structure Complex (according to the Detailed Regulation Plan of Construction Plot J9-1) from the north side.
From the south side of the competition span area, as the first neighbour to the planned pedestrian communication of the stairs and an inclined elevator on cadastral plot 1950/1 Cadastral Community Stari grad, at 17-19 Karađorđeva street, on the Karađorđeva street regulation, there is a Red Cross building - a representative structure consisting of the ground floor, the first floor and a cellar, which was built before 1878 and which is one of the few preserved examples characteristic for the Sava river port setting in the period of its initial development in the 19th century. In the yard of the plot, there is an ancillary building from the same period, from which one enters the largest well-known underground passage (lagum) on the Kosančićev venac slope. The aforesaid buildings have a cultural and historical value and are planned for reconstruction/revitalization within their present dimensions and volumes.
In morphological terms, the planned construction zone itself is not characterized by important delevelling - however, the regulation of Karađorđeva street along the present plot is located at the level of some 77 meters of altitude, whereas the rear boundary of the plot is located at the levels from 86.50 meters of altitude and 89.90 meters of altitude. The total surface of the planned construction plot is around 2482.00m2.
With the new construction of the Faculty of Applied Arts’ building within this plot, the area will become compatible with the planned purposes within the protected unit.
Picture 31 - Competition Scope, 2021