PROJ3CT and SPACEWORKERS joined the Badel Block Competition in 2012 for an urban renewall located in the city center of Zagreb, Croatia. Our proposal “Hybrid Badel Block” was strongly built on the high-density needs stated on the competition guideline. Nevertheless, it was located on a well-sustained urban environment where the high-rise theme was under tough regulation and it’s possibility was highly depreciated by the inhabitants. Also, it was due to incorporate a wide variety of social and private functions and typologies of use.
Our approach was to acknowledge the singularity of the site as a testimony of an industrial era, and to do so would require not only the conservation of the most significant architectural heritage, but to insufflate it with new lively functions. The design premises are quite straight forwared and they relate to the existing buildings of the block. We looked to the site area as an open bowl where three distinctive elements (referred as “industrial heritage”) are set to be linked. We “poured in” what can be generically described as “urban fabric” until it reaches the top of the facing existing buildings, so it may give us a limit to the spread out mass. While constrained within it’s limits, we were set to carve out our definition of public space, linking the three preserved buildings to the outer space.
There were two basic concerns while conducting this operation: to acquire legibility by switching the inner fabric with focal points in the surroundings in the most simple and plain way, and to design a centrepiece alongside with the old Distillery/Yeast Factory – a central square that ignites most of the interior pathways.
The “urban fabric” is then shaped to enable visual communication to the centrepiece and to compose an array of tension/dispersion points along the main pathways. These stretching and pulling gestures from the original form allows us to create a rhythmic sequence on the top of the façades, that induces a sense of proximity and that induces a sense of proximity and encourages one to discover. The culmination of the rhythmic interactions lies in the main square, as the “fabric” is cut off on the bottom providing added space to the public area. The surfaces retained from the subtraction are then covered in mirrored glass, expanding our perception of space beyond the physical limitations.
The balance between the space for public use and the overall private areas is not defined in a bi-dimensional landscape. In spite of the restricted areas given to public use are bounded by a conventional notion of street façade, the private areas amongst the upper levels diverge from the floor plan. The roof plan is taken for a set of green areas for public use, nature sightseeing and eco-friendly energy infrastructures. It is a place for leisure and ecological awareness emerged from the industrial site, that sets up a distinctive way of life for the inhabitants and in a larger scale, for the social and cultural evolution. Giving the rooftops to nature allows us to achieve a continuity with the Mediterranean tradition of inflating the public space with local vegetation, as underlined in Zagreb’s landscape. The new silhouette reflects the high density paradigm.Location: Zagreb, Croatia Architecture team: proj3ctand spaceworkers (co-authorship) Project name: Hybrid badel block Type: international competition for urban renewall. Client: Croatia Architects Association and Zagreb City Council
Gross area: 90.000 sqm.
Photography / rendering: proj3ct and spaceworkers