Natural History

Location / Park prijateljstva, Ušće, Serbia
Year / 2024
Area / 15.000m²
Client / Natural History Museum in Belgrade
Competition / Open, one-stage, anonymous urban planning
and architectural competition for the area “Friendship Park” – Ušće
and conceptual solution of the Museum of Natural History
Project team / Marina Lazović / Predrag Ignjatović /
Vasilije Milunović / Verica Krstić / Katarina Vasiljević /
Anja Pantić / Zorana Jović / Jelena Mladenović / Matija Bulajić

Ušće Friendship Park, as one of the most valuable areas of contact between the city and its rivers, at the confluence of the Sava and the Danube, represents an exceptional ambient, functional, and spatial resource of the highest rank for the city. Accordingly, this project deals with raising the level of the site’s potential while preserving and affirming the quality of the built stock and respecting all the parameters that make it a site of exceptional importance. The importance of the area, which, in addition to the physical, should also be affirmed in the cultural, sports-recreational, educational, unique urban continuum of the two historical centers of Belgrade and Zemun, was the basic parameter of the architectural thinking. Careful urban research of the ambient, spatial, and functional capacities of the site, positioning of the cultural program as the decisive bearer of social development, as well as the aquarium and the panoramic wheel as supplementary contents foreseen in the “Ušće” Plan, represented the biggest challenge when designing this place.

The analysis of the existing built stock identified the potential for the formation of units that would represent the future specific spatial ambience of the area. The solution identified four main ambient entities:

Unit A – The area of ​​the main plateau in front of MoCAB with the newly designed facilities of the Museum of Natural History and the Museum of 21st Century Art.

Unit B – Famous place Friendship Park – protected existing ambient unit

Unit C – Aquarium zone – zone of cultural, sports, recreational and educational character

Unit D – Ferris wheel zone with access plateau

The proposed concept solution achieved specific goals: creation of character and recognizable identity of the location; reshaping of existing public and green areas, activation of public spaces for various cultural and social events; construction and reconstruction of facilities in the central zone as facilities of national priority; and the improvement of the traffic matrix through the separation and definition of new pedestrian flows, carefully shaping the gradual transition from the urban environment of the city to the natural environment along the river. In this way, the foundations of a new, more interactive relationship between the city and the river would be laid, and access to the river would be enabled for the most diverse groups of users.

This concept gives a special quality in the process of creating an authentic expression of the central zone, as a carefully structured system of individual zones and sub-units.

Therefore, the main goal is to create a unique authentic ambient unit in the context of the image of the city, regarding the impression of unity and wholeness of the space, through flow and continuity not only in the physical sense, but also in the programmatic sense.

Of course, the emphasis is on the simultaneous respect and appreciation of the identity of each individual sub-unit, that is, on the variety of environments.

Block 15 with the existing MoCAB facility is intended for the newly formed museum district, which consists of three programmed museums forming a unique museum ensemble. The existing elevation of the MoCAB ground floor was adopted as the elevation of the ground floor for the two newly planned museums, and in this way the “museum complex” is additionally integrated through leveling and visual communication.

The proposed solution of the Natural History Museum consists of three functional tracts, integrated by the atrium space that represents the center of gravity of the exhibition space, a specific natural environment within the building and the backbone along which the primary museum communications develop.

The orientation (rotation) of the tracts followed as a consequence of viewing the volume from the dominant directions. The views towards Kalemegdan, as well as the views from the direction of Ušće Street, give the view of the museum in abbreviated form – so that its volume does not dominate the compositional setting with the existing building of the MoCAB. Being tucked away in the zone of protected greenery has conditioned the discrete movement of the two tracts, so that they are not completely parallel and thus form the space of the inner courtyard.

The motion of the cubic tracts made it possible to create good views towards Kalemegdan and to follow the parallel with the axis of Ulica Ušće, while one unmoved tract remains firmly holding the composition in an axis parallel to the axis of MoCAB. The deviation between the cubic tracts formed an intimate micro-ambiance through which one of the approaches to the main entrance to the building from the plateau of the museum district is achieved. The gentle elevation of the terrain towards the object in this zone creates the feeling that the cubic forms of the object, as guardians of cultural heritage, are well immersed in the ground and stably preserve all the valuables about the history of the creation of the planet until today.

The integration of the building and the environment is emphasized by artificial and natural elements such as: the position of the self-purifying lake, the slightly raised ground floor in the entrance area, the character of the inner courtyard, the “embossing” of the building into the body of greenery and the character of materialization. The morphology of the raised terrain on the ground floor was used for spontaneous gatherings, presentations, and lectures in the open air.

One of the most important micro-environments, designed in this area, is a self-purifying lake, which, with its volume, position and the pedestrian flows that pass through it, constitutes a significant unit of important ambient value. Special attention was paid to the reuse of gray water, its separation and purification for further use for technical purposes precisely by the formation of the reservoir lake. The implementation of such a spatial element contributes to the biodiversity of museum and park space and the aesthetics of the environment.