Ever since the rivers Danube and Sava ceased to pose as state borders, the city of Belgrade has been devising huge plans for its Waterfront district. The idea was to relocate the city’s main railway station and put the vast potential that city’s riverbanks provide to good use.
This has been Belgrade’s urban plan for nearly 100 years, but now that masterplan is finally happening.
Belgrade Waterfront is a €3.5bn project that has one goal and one goal only – to rejuvenate Belgrade’s economy, and with it the economy of the whole country. Quite arduous, ambitious and demanding an objective, but not an impossible one.
Especially when you have a prospective and plausible masterplan and a good investor.
Luckily, both of these preconditions have now been met, which means Belgrade Waterfront can finally roll out and hopefully soon become the fulcrum of the city’s urban framework.
The potent investor and developer is the Abu Dhabi-based real estate company Eagle Hills, whose chairman is non other than Mohamed Alabbar, the founder of Emaar, the company that built the world’s largest shopping mall and the tallest building in the world, the famous The Burj Khalifa.
The Main Idea Behind Belgrade Waterfront
This massive project will provide a plethora of job opportunities and will be packed with apartments, condominiums, hotels, offices, retail shops, malls and parks, while it will also feature a mammoth of a glass skyscraper that is supposed to be the tallest one in this part of Europe. High hopes, quite literally.
According to the project manager in Belgrade, Nikola Nedeljkovic, Belgrade Waterfront will truly be a “game-changing hub for Serbia” that will “take into consideration the balanced sensitivity to nature, culture and modernity.”
The plan is to:
- provide home to over 14,000 people
- create more than 20,000 jobs
- create offices for 12,000 people
The complex will span over 1 million square meter area, while a total construction area will spread over 1.8 million square meters and will stretch along the beautiful and economically prolific riverbank of river Sava. Aside from the gigantic glass skyscraper, the brand new district will feature:
- world-class residences
- top-drawer business offices
- influential educational institutions
- modern healthcare amenities
- top-notch cultural venues
- cosy cafes and restaurants
- exclusive hotels
- premium condos
- top-quality leisure attractions
- lush parks
- necessary parking lots
This should make Belgrade Waterfront the biggest and most developed shopping and lifestyle destination in the Balkans and is bound to become one of the strongest business and touristic hubs in all of Europe. The project will attract big investors, provide local citizens with valuable job opportunities, act as a major catalyst for Serbia’s tourism and fuel the growth of the country’s economy with its holistic approach to city’s development.
Urban design, healthy lifestyle and economic development is essential to any successful European city that is able to recognize potential benefits and both social and commercial value in rebuilding one of its old districts.
This is where Belgrade Waterfront comes in.
Belgrade Waterfront Masterplan Details
As Cestra.rs writes, BW’s masterplan “pesents a model for intervention, aimed at improving the urban quality and resilience of the waterfront area and integrating the development into the city urban area. Transport planning services in the Masterplan included analysis of the current situation, elaboration of the transport needs, elaboration of parking requirements, public transport and cycling and pedestrian traffic.”
The works commenced on September 27, 2015, while the model includes the following:
- 1,800,000 sqm – construction area
- 1,000,000 sqm – land area, public (46%) and private (54%)
- 12,000 office workers
- 6,000 residential units
- 1.8 km long promenade
According to the main construction work plan, the project should be completed over 4 phases. Phase number one is supposed to focus on building Belgrade Waterfront Residences, along with the St. Regis Belgrade Residences, W Belgrade and its residences, the so-called BW Gallery, and one more residential complex the details of which are currently kept under wraps.
The basis and the very foundation of Belgrade Waterfront should be St. Regis Belgrade and The Residences at The St. Regis Belgrade that will be situated in the soon-to-be iconic tower called Kula Belgrade, the building that will ascend above the River Sava and overlook the new 1.8km long Sava Promenade. The tower was designed by the company called SOM, the Chicago office of skyscraper architecture leviathans.
Sava Promenada will also be one of the most archetypal aspects of the project. This 1.8 km long promenade should adorn the riverbanks of Sava river and additionally improve the living conditions in Belgrade Waterfront, along with the central park, numerous premium hotels and a Grand Boulevard lined by cafes, restaurants and retail outlets that will act as the main economy vein within the district.
The masterplan also includes a colossal shopping mall that would be the biggest one the Balkans. The building will be situated a bit further away from the river and will feature a soap-bubble dome, while its size (140,000 square meters) will be neck to neck with London’s famous Westfield Stratford.
The lifestyle appeal of this aspiring project will define Belgrade Waterfront as one of the biggest tourist attractions in eastern Europe as it will be developed and built according to the highest standards of architectural craft and sustainability, making it an instant and rather valuable cultural heritage of the entire region.
It is also paramount to mention that the residential part of Belgrade Waterfront will incorporate a staggering 6,000 residential units, that surprisingly, won’t be too expensive to purchase. This cosy and homie residential neighbourhood will be comprised of compact and smaller apartments that are convenient to younger professionals, but also medium and large residencies that will cater to bigger families as well. This area will also feature some of the world’s most prestigious hotel brands that offer world-class accommodation and services.
“We’re trying to focus on the affordable as well as the high-end segments,” says Nedeljkovic. “We’re trying to have a diverse mix of product.”
The Ambivalence Behind the Belgrade Waterfront Project
“Belgrade is painfully divided about the development,” writes The Guardian. “Some see a prosperous future in it, others are aghast at the project’s hitherto-alien cityscape, unconvinced of its economic or social benefits and suspicious of Serbia’s relationship with Eagle Hills.”
However, we are quite positive that the ambition and forward-thinking of the people behind Belgrade Waterfront will prevail and that Serbia’s capital will indeed emerge more prosperous, economically rejuvenated, and touristically reborn after this enormous project is finally finished.
This ambitious Belgrade Waterfront masterplan is supported by the Serbian Government and is going to be more than vital for improving Belgrade’s cityscape, urban area and further boosting of Serbia’s economy. Revitalizing the Sava amphitheater, a neglected stretch of land on the right bank of the Sava river, should undoubtedly help Serbia gain financial traction and restore its ever so wounded economy.