Competition for the urban-architectural concept design for the BADEL SITE redevelopment


The authors strongly disagree with the requirements of this competition. Urban tissue of Zagreb has many more problems in this particular area than just "revitalizing" a derelict block with defunct factories inside. Let us briefly summarize some of them:
1. Ongoing problem with traffic communication in the north-south direction along the direction of Ilica street-Vlaska street - Maksimirska street
2. Recent intervention in the new design of Kvaternik square has left it desolate and dead. Whereas it was once thriving with life (which does not imply it was a good urban/communication solution, but a marketplace was a powerful social magnet), with its present day state devoid of any content and a cryptic traffic bloodstream, it has become a uninviting place.
3. We feel that industrial heritage being preserved by conservationists in this area is somewhat cynical and without sensibility towards the wider context of city centre. Why should Subiceva and Marticeva streets be held hostage by an architecturally quite unremarkable (if not downright ugly) Gorica Factory building? In what way does it ACTUALLY contour the urban block that never was a typical urban block? True enough, Heinzelova street is a sort of a transformation line between high-density urban block morphology and other, less dense morphologies so we can understand the change of pace in the urban structure in its proximity, but while once on the city''s outskirts, this area today has a much more prominent place.
4. As one of the obvious consequences of complete disintegration of the block on the east, south and west side, the north side of the block suffers from the lack of definition and elegance. While juxtaposing is brilliantly applied a few hundred meters to the west in the form of Vitic and Ibler high-rises, bulky modern buildings and awkward urban morphology that metastases inwards leaves a lot to be desired. Even the administrative building is structured as a free-standing building, rather than an interpolated building more typical for the perimeter of the block.
5. The city, just as the rest of the state, is broke. And will remain so for quite some time. Therefore it is quite irrelevant what the city wants to do with Badel Block. Photographs provided by the organizer of the competition are already outdated, as the most prominent part of the distillery roof has collapsed. So to cut the long story short, if the city can''t find the investor in a very short time (and in all probability it won''t), the building will anyway cave in on itself or at least be damaged beyond reasonable repair. Not to mention the seismic zone capable of producing magnitude 8 earthquakes. So much for the efficiency of preserving the Lower Town architectural heritage altogether.
6. Marketplace is definitely an urban content worthy of preserving in this area. Today it is located in an even worse position than the one it was before, squeezed in a triangle between Subiceva street, Marticeva street and an appallingly campy building dating from the mid-nineties. South of it is a pseudo-park, placed in a depression for no apparent reason except that there should be a little less to dig when someone decides to put an underground garage there (like us, for example).
Since we feel there are so many issues left unaddressed by this competition, we decided to completely dismiss the propositions. Instead we opted to do a thought experiment and have a little fun while we''re at it. What would happen if we should get any braver, if we looked further than that thick red line marking the perimeter of the block? What would happen if we took notice of those dead spaces abounding all around the block? What if we said enough with preservation without architectural criticism? What if we said that it''s all a bunch a hot air anyway, since if a powerful enough developer can make an entire city street disappear in the middle of Zagreb, why can''t a whole block disappear either? What if we made this with only the developer on our minds? And could you really blame us?
What is presented in this competition entry is not a mere vision (utopian or dystopian, in architecture it inevitably comes to the same anyway), but a sort of a quite possible future for this location. So, we''re just joking, right? But it is not us who started the joke. And for those who perhaps missed the point, those towers are bottle-shaped, together with corks. So no one can say we didn''t try to preserve that ubiquitous genius loci.
The concept addresses areas beyond the scope of the competition, most notably by completely removing all existent buildings from the block and spreading above the Subiceva and Marticeva street to the east and southeast, as well as widening the Kvaternik Square and providing it with new room for development. The block is shortened to accommodate the tram traffic from Vlaska street to Subiceva street and to align itself to Galjufova street, straightening and sharpening the urban matrix. This should also open enough new space on Kvaternik square to accommodate a new building, whose proposed use is the city aquarium, since it is well-connected to the city zoo.
A new layer is placed over the former block, and on the roof of this new layer is a park with lush vegetation that is vertically connected to the enclosed spaces below. The park stretches across Subiceva and Marticeva streets and gently slopes downwards over the existent park on the south side of the market, creating a dynamic landscape. The centerpiece of the concept are 150 meters high twin towers, designed to utilize the solar chimney effect, using a shallow pool of water at the street level over which the cool air is taken upwards inside the double facade to provide the flow of cooler air. Diagrid structure of towers enables a more flexible core design, so there are also water pools at the top collecting rainwater and using the principle of adiabatic cooling to push the cool air downwards the building via ducts in the core. By manipulating these mechanisms in the summer and winter regimes, it would be possible to dramatically reduce the energy demands of the building.
The enclosed ground floor of the Badel Block can house various uses, and the most probable one would be a shopping center, due to the high propulsion of population generated by the marketplace and office, HORECA and residential spaces situated in the towers. The new marketplace itself is enclosed in all scenarios.
The underground parking lots are spread underneath the whole new development, so horizontal vehicular and pedestrian underground communication is possible, bypassing the need of crossing the Subiceva and Marticeva street. Since the scope of the proposed concept is much wider than the competition requirements, it provides several good positions for vehicular entry/exit.

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