For the project of the new KOLO Folk Song and Dance Ensemble building and the Center for the Research and Promotion of Cultural Heritage, design concept of Zabriskie studio won the first prize in a one-stage public competition for the preliminary design of the KOLO Ensemble building in Belgrade in 2019.
Location – a place of recognition for the City of Belgrade
The location of Kosančićev venac is of exceptional cultural and historical importance, as a symbolic, recognizable place on the panorama of Belgrade. Having in mind the importance of the very toponym, as well as the allocation and the nature of the artistic solution, it was decided that the complex bear the name Heritage Wreath.
The basic idea of our solution was to design a functional complex that connects new buildings and the surrounding ambient. In addition to providing an innovative answer to the programmatic task, an additional goal we set for ourselves was to integrate the object into the wider context of this part of the city.
The detailed regulation plan, below the building of the Rectorate of the Arts, foresees the restoration of the once existing pedestrian street. The plan also included an amphitheater, as well as the open plateaus of the winning contest solution for the City Gallery from year 2016.
We considered that the continuity of public space along Karađorđeva Street, as well as its character and the usage, was vital for the functioning of the buildings along Karađorđeva Street. For these reasons, the new building complex is conceived as a just continuation of the public space of Kosančićev venac.
Methodology and the approach to the project assignment
In order to successfully integrate the new buildings into the existing environment and properly revitalize the public space, we concluded that the forms of future buildings should be carefully interpolated into the given spatial context.
We perceived that the building should support and emphasize the good elements of the existing composition, recognizable by the pronounced horizontal of the base and the rugged landscape of the slope. In this regard, being careful not to disturb the possibility of future spatial interventions into the scene of the slope of Kosančićev venac, it was crucial for us that the building does not exceed the height of the planned footpath.
In the past, the emphasized horizontal base was represented by ramparts and a series of demolished structures at the level of Karađorđeva Street. In modern era, it was supported by the quay fort, the Concrete Hall facility, the international passenger dock facility, as well as the passing facilities of passenger ships. All these objects are characterized by emphasized horizontality, the repetitiveness of the secondary vertical element and the underlining of the scattered scene.
In addition to establishing itself at the mouth of the river with its position and configuration as the most important place of sign of one city, the view from the ridge to the other river bank is no less important formative factor of the basic symbols to the city. In order to preserve these two scenes not only as notions and paintings, it was necessary to spatially place the program, the theme of which would be the accentuation and culmination of the dialogue between the two scenes.
The area of the main stage of KOLO Ensemble
The backbone of the ensemble object – the main stage area had to be conceived as a flexible zone with a number of possible settings. Our idea was to provide a way that, apart from the classic screenplay setting with 400 spectators, the big stage could be transformed through a whole range of sub-options – concerts, lectures, symposia, experimental dance and theater performances.
We focused on the exploration of the relations to the space and the means for presentation, as well as the possibility of experimenting in the scope of relation of audience and the performer. In this way, we achieved the formation of a studio space characterized by a flexible setting of the stage and the auditorium.
An important feature of the scenic spaces is that the outdoor scene physically proceeds to the indoor scene and can be connected if necessary. In this way, the ensemble would be given a space where it could further explore ways of presenting traditional dance and music, as well as ways of communicating with the audience.
Owing to the glass façade of the building and the formative highlighting of the corpus of the large stage in the middle of the space (through the usage of red, which is traditionally associated with theatrical space), a symbolic link was made with the Đumrukana object, since Đumrukana functioned as the first theatre space in the city of Belgrade at one time.
On the other hand, we considered it important for the facade of the building to be made of glass in order to successfully integrate the object, owing to the alternating reflections of the surrounding ambient and by seeing the interior of the object (by the principle of mimicry).
The Building of Centre for Research and Promotion of Cultural Heritage
A very important aspect of the solution is that, in addition to the solution for the Kolo ensemble, there was an integrated solution for the adjacent parcel. This program was not defined by the call for competition but was part of the competition task. Therefore, the building of The Center for Research and Promotion of the Cultural Heritage of the Republic of Serbia was designed, whose existence is necessary, while the function is compatible with the ensemble function, and the given location fully appropriate.
The entwining of the building of Kolo ensemble and the building of Centre for research and promotion of cultural heritage enabled us to, instead of not using the roof platform, create a public space of various ambiences and usages. It includes summer stage, amphitheater, green surfaces, the atrium, entrances to the buildings of Ensemble and Centre, as well as a cafe-bar of the pavilion character.
The roof of the building – new public space of Belgrade
The roof is structurally designed so that it can support the planting of the grass so that the grass level is even to the paving of the roof plane, with the aim of accentuating the existence of different tactile surfaces.
Also, by gradually exiting the womb of the object and changing the view frame from and to Kosančićev venac, the space of the roof plane ceases to be two-dimensional. In fact, from the ground floor it grows into an architectural space where the dynamics of openness or closure of the view forms an atmosphere of use.
The rooftop cafe, which has functionally encompassed the space of the stage tower, is articulated as a recessed form to enhance the pavilion character and minimize the impression of the third floor.
Functionality in focus
The entire area of the Kolo ensemble and the Cultural Heritage Research Center is characterized by a distinct connection between different parts of the buildings and the ability to use the space in different ways and for different purposes. By designing multiple entrances (across the roof, over Veliko stepenište, from Karađorđeva Street), the goal was to connect Kosančićev venac to Karađorđeva Street, as well as to enliven and interweave public space with cultural objects.
By designing one of the entrances over the roof plateau, users are slowly introduced into the interior of the building, thus increasing the intensity of its openness.
More importantly, by establishing a counter-amphitheater staircase (leading to the audience space of the outer scene), it culminates in a symbolic dialogue of the characteristic scenes of the view from Kosančićev venac and upon it.
Symbiosis of nature and the designed building
The designing of the buildings was planned with the aim not to compete with the buidlings which form the scenic background. On the contrary, it was designed to emphasise and nurture the quailities of the ambience.
In this way, we achieved the ultimate goals that we, as authors, pursued in designing the Wreath of Heritage: the unbroken harmony of the building and its environment, unique aesthetics, as well as the emphasized functionality of the newly created public space.
Zabriskie studio design team:
Milka Gnjato, d.i.a, Ivan Zuliani, d.i.a, Ivica Marković, d.i.a, Fedor Jurić, d.i.a,
Martina Milošević, d.i.a, Dušica Plazinčić, d.i.a.
Associates and consultants:
Dr Dragan Novković, diplomirani inženjer elektrotehnike, Ana Dajić, M.A.
etnolog-antropolog, Dr Miodrag Grbić, mast.inž.arh., Vladimir Lalicki, d.i.a, Maja
Đorđević, diplomirani inženjer pejzažne arhitekture