badel block


Badel Block celebrates the complexities, diversity and variety of programmes. The hybrid programmes in building and public spaces seek for unexpected, unpredictable and non-regimented social relationships. The hybridization is the inevitable manifesto of a catalyst of social congestion both horizontally and vertically. This amalgamation of uses enriches the sense of ‘placeness’ and new heterotopias: the new Babylon.


The Badel Urban Redevelopment (BUR) constitutes a strategic urban ‘attractor’ for the city of Zagreb. It reinforces and restructures the intermodality and urbanity around Kvaternik Square’ neighborhoods.
Our proposal interprets the design brief in terms of an urban programmatic repair and spatial re-composition, a ‘machine of town regenerations and relationships’. In order to enhance the existing urban tissue, we implement 3 main ingredients:
1. Augmenting publicness (maximization of the public space footage)
2. Integration of existing formal/informal amenities such as the open-air market and industrial fragments
3. Reuse of urban morphologies through distinctive block-types. 


This fusion of urban patterns generates an ‘urban collage’, a patch-scape where the main components activate and modify the major inner system. All spaces created between buildings are treated in the same way as internal spaces in buildings: open and accessible courtyards.
The aim is to re-configure and articulate the urban density and architectural variety of the townscape by conceiving ‘magic’ castles, a ‘Fortress of Urbanity’, where volumes interplay by occupancy and space qualities, and vice versa.
The Badel Urban Redevelopment turns the intervention area almost into a blank canvas, leaving only a couple of industrial remnants open to an entire reconfiguration of the public and private spaces. We reckon that this openness offers inclusive spatial qualities to be fostered and preserved, as a unique urban condition that has never been tested in this urban context before. In order to secure spatial fluidity and aperture together with the insertion of 65.000m² of new built spaces, we implant classical perimeter block types available in Zagreb and lift them above the site. 


The typical Zagreb perimeter block is a very familiar urban element, which we use to define new interrelated squares on this compound. Its formal patterns remain intact, however its volumetric forms – the square and rectangle- have been abstracted, lifted up and extruded to generate two Platonic shapes with regular inner cavities that frame the immediate environment: squares, parks and streetscape.
Both the rectangular and cubic perimeter blocks are distinctive bodies. Their architecture acts as an ‘inhabited membrane’ and serves as a natural stage for various activities, filtering the every-day life in the vicinity. Their ‘grand courtyards’ or voids accommodate both cultural facilities (West side) and an existing open-air market (East side). In both perimeter blocks there is a correlation between facades and programs, which define the envelope composition of each complex and offer shading in relation to the environmental demands of a specific program.


In terms of place-making, we have conceived three distinctive places: 
1. The Cube + Destilerija Square (West):
It is a well-defined cubic courtyard situated in the west side of our site. It incorporates two existing factory buildings. Here, the architecture defines the public space. It serves as a natural stage of activities by acting as an ‘inhabited membrane’, which filters the every-day life of the vicinity.
2. The Slab + Market Square (East):
It contains the extension of the existing open-air market with its marquees. Its rectangular form follows the axiality of the Batrul Kašić green square. Here, opposite to the cubic void, the public space defines a lower courtyard building. This square is covered by trees, acting as a natural membrane.
3. The Platform:
It is the public spatial articulation of all pedestrian flow and connections at the ground level (a transitional space). As intermediate space, it articulates the interactions and tensions between public spaces and buildings within the complex. The openness of the public space and the elevation of the perimeter blocks allow people to move from one space to another and thus provide complete freedom of accessibility with the immediate surroundings and the newly added program.


Regarding the enhancement of Badel through our design scheme, we identify 4 urban attributes: 

The BUR scheme allows residents and visitors to move freely from one space to another by elevating the perimeter blocks and thus providing 100% cross-connectivity and accessibility from/to the immediate surroundings. The street level is continuous; a moving platform that links different tensions and flows in the streetscape.
Moreover, as the underground area hosts car parks and retail, the ‘publicness’ of the platform releases a significant amount of space at ground level giving more options to the users to interplay with the events and their spontaneous relationships. This again helps to achieve high porosity for the pedestrian movement. But it is not just circulation, the perforations in the main buildings allow augmenting inner daylight and framing key vistas outwards. These penetrations provide a harmonious rhythm in the facades of each block. 


Programmatically, the strategic functions of the complex are allocated in relation to its immediate context and the every-day life. Our design scheme follows the traditional block-type approach and takes a forefront position along the principal street. All openings that connect the accesses to the shopping center, parking and inner are situated with an explicit relationship to pre-existing activities, orders and lines of forces.
Both the positioning of complex uses and the accessibility to the most public areas in each perimeter block secure the articulation of buildings with the immediate and wider contexts. For instance, if we dissect the blocks, retail is placed in-between parking and residence activities as a continuation of pre-existing use.
The new building has residential on the upper floors that relate to the ground floor but also offers panoramas of the city of Zagreb. The residential floors located above the retail units help to define the character of the perimeter blocks above the underground shopping complex, articulating the transition between the proposed and existing layers. The main retrofitted buildings – a local Arts Center and Media Library - face towards South to intersect the flow from Kvaternik Square and the main boulevard. 


The street level is the main support that accommodates the public life. However, the block performs in a dual mode: The Destilerija Square and its cubic building respond to a metropolitan scale whilst Market Square and its slab-block respond to a local scale.
The incisions and slits in each perimeter block are designed to celebrate the collision of different scales, the here and there. These gestures respond to visual games of proximity and composition, and therefore create a well-balanced ‘place-form’ that deals with all the scales. 


Our scheme celebrates the complexities, diversity and variety of programmes.  The hybrid programmes in building and public spaces seek for unexpected, unpredictable and non-regimented social relationships. The hybridization is the inevitable manifesto of a catalyst of social congestion both horizontally and vertically. This amalgamation of uses enriches the sense of ‘placeness’ and new heterotopias: the new Babylon.

badel block from park

project: Badel block

team: de baes & ecofab (Joris De Baes, Christian Suau , Nikolina Muza , Marija Mateljan )

location: Zagreb, Croatia

status: competition

year: 2012

program: mixed