Belgrade Waterfront: Reinventing the city on the river ― 

Since the 1920s, the waterfront area around the main train station was an eye sore for Belgrade, the capital of Serbia in southeastern Europe. It was essentially a disconcerting, empty hole in the center of the city. Various initiatives have been proposed over the years to bring the city down to its waterfront to create a new social and commercial epicenter, stimulate the local economy, as well as to simply make use of a centrally located area that was being neglected.

The urban development project, involving housing, hospitality, retail, and a brand new monumental skyscraper that will be the latest urban landmark of Belgrade, aims at improving the cityscape and economy by revitalizing the Sava amphitheater, a neglected stretch of land on the right bank of the Sava river, between the Belgrade Fair and Branko’s bridge. It was started in 2014 with the reconstruction of the Belgrade Cooperative building, which was finished in June of the same year. It is the second largest mixed-use complex under construction in Europe, involving 6.000 apartments, seven hotels including W Hotel and St Regis, 2000 offices, the largest shopping mall in South East Europe and public buildings.

Presently, five state of the art residential buildings are complete, and so is the BW Galerija, a 93,000 m² shopping mall that is the largest in SE Europe, that will be the region’s largest shopping mall with over 250 local and international brands. The shopping mall will present an eclectic blend of styles and brands – bringing together attractive retail outlets, restaurants and contemporary entertainment spaces – poised to become the meeting point for all generations. True to its civic character, the shopping mall design incorporates indoor public streets to allow the connection between the surrounding area and the waterfront, sheltered under glass and steel canopies.

The centerpiece of the development, however, will be the Belgrade Tower, already known as Kula Belgrade: At 42 floors and 168m height, the tower, whose undulating form is inspired from the movement of water at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, will be the tallest building in Serbia, embodying the city’s transformation into a major regional hub. Situated in a prime location at the bank of the Sava River, the Belgrade Tower will offer a waterfront lifestyle. Intended as a “new symbol of the Serbian capital,” the developers integrate Belgrade’s traditional

architecture in a modern development. The tower will have a direct approach to a waterfront promenade, located in close proximity to Belgrade Fortress. It will be connected with the old city through a public plaza.

The architects were inspired by the nearby river when planning the exterior appearance. Aside from the Avala telecommunications tower, this will be the tallest structure in Belgrade, including a 190-room St. Regis hotel occupying the first nine floors, and 220 luxury St. Regis-branded and serviced apartments on floors 14 through 39. Guests of the St. Regis Belgrade and residents of the apartments will have access to a swimming pool, gym, a relaxation lounge and an observation deck at the top of the tower. Given its waterfront location and exposure to humidity, AkzoNobel is developing a custom-made powder coating color for the building’s metal components, emulating the anodic effect which is prescribed by the architects, providing however an eco-friendly alternative to the technique of anodization, and guaranteeing much longer and better protection of the structure.

The tower is scheduled for completion in 2022, signaling the landmark date of the overall development; in a few years, the formerly abandoned riverfront area will be an economic and creative hub for the entire Balkan peninsula, assigning a revitalized role to one of the region’s major and most interesting cities.