Block 19 ¾ – the conflict resolution terminal
Peiwen Ren @ TUDelft, Complex Projects Studio
Part of the historic district is being knocked down to make way for the Belgrade Waterfront development, a joint project of Serbia’s government and the United Arab Emirates’ Eagle Hills, that will be the largest real estate development in the country. However, the project, which has a cost of €3.2bn, has been met with resistance from residents as it will require the demolition of parts of downtown Belgrade. Questions have also been raised with regards to the transparency of the project leading to Several thousand-people protested in front of the Belgrade city assembly against the controversial demolition of buildings in the Savamala district of the Serbian capital. Large numbers of informal housing covered the block 18 near Splavovi.
The direct environmental consequence observed was the partial destruction of the ecosystem on which the housing stands, the ‘wetland’. Wetlands play several roles in the environment, principally water purification, flood control, carbon sink and shoreline stability. The population is still growing, and the growing construction of the housing will end up destroying their ecosystem entirely. From the picture besides, it has the symbolic meaning on the relationship between the government and civil society. Small organizations or insignificant people tend to be swallowed up or destroyed by those that are greater and more powerful. However, if all the small groups organized together, it’s still possible to defeat the greater fish. As a solution, I propose a new project, elevated above the ground, combining all the conflicts together to be a ‘big fish’ to confront the Belgrade waterfront project and make way for recover the wetland. To do so, it will be a transparent and permeable structure for the lower part, without disrupting the sun, air and water, which is the most necessary natural regeneration elements. Meanwhile, the upper part of the structure would provide habitability for the original residents and equal functions with splavovi.
Who influences you graphically?
Actually, I have many references as I browse through a lot of material, both contemporary and historical. I am inspired by the photomontages of Raoul Hausmann, Höch, Heartfield, Baader and Grosz (Berlin Dada) as well as works of Superstudio, and their “anti-architecture” psychedelic renderings, collages and films. I am also intrigued by the influence the works of these practices, as Superstudio, has had on architects like Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas and Bernard Tschumi amongst others.
Recently there has been a proliferation in the use of figures as those of Hockney, what is you take on this? What role do these play within your architectural space?
The use of figures borrowed from artists like Hockney, Hopper helped me to express my idea and concept rather than portraying the project as a finalised building demonstrated in a commercial rendering.
What is your take on the montage? What was the thinking behind the first two borrowed and readapted images?/
I believe that, differently to the render, the photomontage allows for the architect to have a presence within the image. The first two montages wanted to convey the status quo of the east and west river sides. On the west side of the river, part of the historic district was knocked down making way for the government investments and projects. As a result, thousands of people gathered in the city center and protested against the transparency of the project. While, on the other side of the river bank, informal housing occupied the wetland leading to serious environmental problems which can only worsen due to the growing population and housing projects. The two montages together show the big disparity between the two riversides and strongly emphasis the narrative hidden behind.
How important were the section and the axonometric in revealing specific aspects of the building?
Working in section and axonometric became a crucial method to show the inner circulation and function distribution of a big complex building. From the section, you could easily modify the use of different spaces and the flow of humans human within this enormous vertical box. The axonometric, in relation to the section, gives a three-dimensional expression to the quality of the space. I would say that for this project the plan is not so helpful to understand the tectonic complexities and the relationship between spaces.