Is Belgrade Waterfront a Missed Opportunity?
Sane Mind Serbia

Is Belgrade Waterfront a Missed Opportunity?

Is Belgrade Waterfront a missed opportunity? I’m not entirely sure yet, perhaps it’s still far too early to ask this question. Although, you can already get a very good idea of how everything will look when they finish the works. Right now, all I see is blocks of flats and nothing else. But I have to be honest and admit that the promenade by the river is spectacularly beautiful.

So, let’s start from the beginning. Whatever they are doing in this part of Belgrade is most definitely better than what used to be there before. I remember when I lived in Belgrade, which is a long time ago now, the Sava amphitheatre was completely disconnected from the city. There were rail tracks there that practically cut the city off from the Sava river. I don’t even know whether you could approach or go for a walk by the river. In other words, the prime city location was derelict, abandoned and forgotten for decades.





The Belgrade Waterfront project started in 2014 between the Serbian government and Eagle Hills, a leading Abu Dhabi private investment and development company. This company focuses on creating new city hubs in countries with the high growth potential. Did you know that Serbia fall into this category?

To start the project, they restored the monumental Belgrade Co-operative building. It became the head office of the company that runs the whole project and that also markets the flats for sale.


Co-operative Building Belgrade Waterfront
Belgrade Co-operative building


Immediately next to the Belgrade Co-operative building, you will see the newly restored Hotel Bristol. Built in 1912, it is one of the oldest hotels in Belgrade. I also only remember this building as a black and ugly edifice, despite the fact that it is actually beautiful. At the same time, it’s a stellar example of Secession architecture in the city.


Is Belgrade Waterfront a missed opportunity?
Hotel Bristol


A bit further away, on the side of the area selected for development, there is the former Belgrade main railway station. They closed the station and moved rail operations to another location within the city. The station building was constructed between 1882 and 1885 and it will be converted into a museum. So far, they’ve finished the square in front of the station and erected the monument to Stefan Nemanja.

Thus, these 3 monumental buildings plus all other 19th and early 20th century buildings in the area should have set the frame for Belgrade Waterfront. But, that’s not the case.


Is Belgrade Waterfront a missed opportunity?
Belgrade railway station





Here is a map of the whole project, that you can see on the wall inside of the Belgrade Co-operative building. So far they’ve done a lot, but they still have a lot to do until the end of the construction project.


Is Belgrade Waterfront a missed opportunity?
Belgrade Waterfront project


Belgrade Waterfront is located by the Sava river in Old Belgrade. It’s a part of the city where you find the most central pedestrian area with its 19th century buildings. That’s also where you can see the National Museum and National Theatre, Kalemedgan Fortress and so on …

But for some strange reason, they opted to build modern skyscrapers and randomly positioned blocks of flats, rather then extending the city all the way to the river bank.

The photo below shows you Belgrade Waterfront seen from the Belgrade Fortress. You have certainly noticed that buildings in the forefront of the picture are in a desperate need of restoration. Sadly, most of Belgrade still looks like that and they are not doing much about it.


Is Belgrade Waterfront a missed opportunity?
Belgrade Waterfront seen from Belgrade Fortress


The Sava promenade is very beautiful, but I think that people will only use the promenade to go for a walk by the river.


Is Belgrade Waterfront a missed opportunity?
Belgrade Waterfront


The promenade takes you all the way to the tall new building that they call Belgrade Tower.


Is Belgrade Waterfront a missed opportunity?
Belgrade Tower


However, I can’t really envisage people using any other part of this newly built area. I can’t really see anyone going for a walk in between the blocks of flats. They’ve opened some shops and restaurants, but it’s all scattered around.


Is Belgrade Waterfront a missed opportunity?
Belgrade Waterfront


In these photos you can see some of already completed buildings. Right now they are new and look good, although I still think that they would’ve been more appropriately located on the other side of the river, in New Belgrade.

The big question is whether they will maintain them and whether or not they will look dated in, let’s say, 10 or so years. There are many similarly constructed buildings in London. Initially they all looked exciting, while most of them are dull and architecturally démodé now.


Is Belgrade Waterfront a missed opportunity?
Belgrade Waterfront


Savska street is the boundary on the other side of the whole project. There, they are constructing lower buildings, although they are not creating a proper, urban city street.


Is Belgrade Waterfront a missed opportunity?
Savska street





So, what I would’ve done, I would’ve extended the city and created a proper urban grid, exactly the same as the rest of the city. In fact, they could’ve created a city to match some of the most beautiful world cities such as Barcelona or Paris.

You can see what I mean in the photo below. This is a famous residential urban grid in Barcelona, a cityscape with typical urban octagonal blocks. Thus, when you are there, you feel that you are in the city. Unfortunately, you don’t get that feeling in Belgrade Waterfront.


Is Belgrade Waterfront a missed opportunity?
Barcelona urban city grid


Finally, right by the river I would’ve constructed several monumental building, to stand there as the city’s legacy for a long time, if not forever. Belgrade needs a new opera house and also a new philharmonic hall. They built a shopping mall instead.

Anyway, let’s wait for several more years as they are still building a lot. Maybe I’m too harsh right now, maybe it’s too early to judge.

Although, what I’ve written in this post is my gut feeling that I get when I look at what they’ve done until now. I’ll come back to this in the future …



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