Belgrade will be a role model for other cities

Belgrade 03. 03. 2009 Blic Blic

Belgrade will be a role model for other cities

Today's most important architect Daniel Libeskind, a Polish Jew living in America, brought to Belgrade not only a great project of the Danube waterfront development but he also paid an unexpected compliment. In his interview for "Blic" he said that Belgrade's underdevelopment was its biggest asset and that the capital of Serbia would become an architectural role model to other cities in not so distant future.

"While Belgrade was unable to develop during the nineties, other European cities were expanding. However, that construction was random and unsustainable. They were focused on square meters and not on the quality. Belgrade avoided that mistake and therefore has the opportunity to be transformed into a place which is good and convenient to live in."

How do you see it?

I see Belgrade as an inspiring city. I see it as a role model to others. It shouldn't resemble Vienna or any other city on the river. It is important to be what it is, a capital at the heart of the Danube.

What is important in your vision of Luka Beograd?

I look at a wider context concerning the way in which Belgrade and the Danube will enter the 21st century. It is important to build a city which will be competitive enough because all world cities are competing between each other. It is important to introduce activities to the Danube waterfront which are necessary to a city. And those are entertainment, residential area, shopping, parks, culture etc. Those are all city activities in the 21st century.

What will "City on water" look like?

The aim is to bring the inhabitants back to the river. It is necessary to build a big park which is highly important for the 21st century. Then also to build the neighbourhoods with different identities and activities, like in the city center. It is necessary to create a number of experiences which don't exist at the moment.

Which experiences are you referring to?

To the art of the city life, urban life. It doesn't involve only glass and steel, it's the events. It is about combining technology, entertainment, design, urban life and economy.

According to your project, in the first phase Francuska street will be expanded all the way to the river bank. Do you know that there is big traffic congestion in this street?

That street is very important because it has significant historical characteristics and has to take the function of Belgrade's lifeline. We want to expand it, to turn it into a street with squares and the view. Francuska street has been cut, it has never fully developed. With this project it will be completed in a way because it will connect the network of urban spaces.

Do you know that 1,100 cars pass through it in an hour?

We will modify the concept of traffic, we need pedestrian and cycling paths instead of cars. Of course we rely on public transport which has to be improved in order to reduce the concentration of private vehicles. We need to reduce the concrete, because of environmental protection and not to depend on cars but on pedestrians, cyclists and public transport.

You are the author of a memorial complex at the ruins of the World Trade Center. How hard is it to work on such a sensitive site?

It is perhaps one of the hardest projects that I did because of the politics, emotions, the victims' families and the investors. The complex is still under construction and I think it will look fantastic. It is a great challenge for me and I am happy to say that some buildings will be finished in two years.

You did many big projects. Still, a lot of people think you will be remembered for this one.

For me there are two special projects: the Jewish museum in Berlin and the project in New York. I didn't do the research for them, I didn't sit in the library and study them. They are part of my life. They are really something special compared to the other things that I did.

Great attendance of students

The lecture on waterfront was held yesterday at the Faculty of Architecture at which Daniel Libeskind, a famous world architect, explained the details about his project and the vision of Luka Beograd's development. The lecture hall was full of students and planning experts who attended the lecture with delight. It was extended for an hour due to great interest and many questions. As the hall was too small to fit all the visitors, the Faculty decided to put the speakers in the halls so that the students could hear the lecture.

The 250 meter tower

You promote unusually-shaped skyscrapers. How will the 250 meter tower proposed in your project fit in with the water and green areas?

One of the ways to build a sustainable city is to secure great density and not to stretch the buildings to take up all the space. In this case we are not considering tall buildings but one skyscraper which will be a symbol of Luka's reconstruction and the Danube's revival. It is a very special building because it connects the Sava and the Danube. It will host different restaurants, hotels, residential area and a panoramic view. Architecture doesn't only entail a number of projects but it is also a way to make something attractive.

What is your opinion of the project?

Žaklina Gligorijević, the director of the Town planning institute of Belgrade

The project is fantastic but it has to be developed gradually. Of course it requires further analyses and the cooperation with city institutions. The realization will be painful for the city because all big public works have to be financed by the City and the Republic.

Milutin Milošević, the director of "Beograd čvor" ("Belgrade junction")

The project is the concept of a new city, the railway shouldn't be relocated from this area but we should use the existing resources. The railway could be used only for passenger transport.

Zoran Rubinjoni, Belgrade land development public agency

It is an incredible idea to develop the port and the waterfront. This man is a genius but there are still many problems with the project. It is not enough to make Francuska street the only access to the new part of the city. When the project starts, the city will have to follow it closely.

Ljubina Stefanović Tasić, the director of CEP

We are the local partner of this project and we take it as our own. We are a great team which keeps improving the project on a daily basis. Therefore I can't say whether it is good or bad.