Apr 30, 2024

Bratislava Southbank - how the 'bowls' are helping to preserve the trees

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Studio Egret West shares landscape details for Phase 1 of Penta Real Estate’s Southbank scheme in Bratislava, Slovakia

In 2022, Studio Egret West and Snohetta in collaboration with the local studio gro architekti were appointed by Penta Real Estate to help transform a key area of Bratislava’s Southbank on the South Bank of the River Danube. The project is now moving into its next phase. Recent work, in preparation for the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), has been focused on ensuring the plans protect the existing environment, including existing flora and ecologically significant trees and fragments of Lužný les (Riparian Forest).

The overall concept for the landscape is based on bowls, banks and a boardwalk. The bowls provide a solution to the level changes across the site – raised levels are needed for below ground car parking and better connections however levels must be brought down to existing terra-firma in order to retain existing trees. There are five proposed sculpted bowls around groups of trees across the site; a bowl for play, one for urban sports, one for relaxation and tranquility, one for culture, and one for a new forest

01 Phase 1 detail - includes five residential buildings and one office building West of the Apollo Bridge.

Phase 1, located West of the Apollo Bridge, includes five residential buildings, one office building, the surrounding public realm and the ‘Play Bowl’.

Other key features of the landscape approach include banks and the boardwalk. Banks aim to negotiate level changes wherever possible with planted banks, rather than a harsher approach of engineered walls – it will create a sense of nature rolling between buildings.

A boardwalk on the northern edge of the site brings together the bowls, the existing and well used cycle path, and active ground floor uses in the base of buildings. It will connect these various elements in a clear, exciting and generous manner. The boardwalk becomes a place that is alive with activity throughout the day, being used by residents, office workers, children, families and skaters.

Ss 1
Sketch detail of the Play Bowl, located near the embankment. The first of five unique ‘character bowls’ each with their own identities, that utilise the existing terrain, maximise the preservation of existing mature trees and create focal points within the public realm.
Ss 5
Play Bowl - view through into the central event space with the upper level circular walkway enclosing on of the largest existing mature trees.
Ss 7
Play Bowl - aerial view into the central event space - with timber play canopy mimicking the surrounding tree forms.
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Play Bowl - view through the ‘nature loop’ with a mix of existing characterful native trees with wildflower meadows, tumbled natural stone, weathered timber and soft gravel paths.
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Play Bowl - playful slides, nets and boulders make for exciting ways for children to explore the level changes throughout the play bowl.
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Flexible Central Event Space With day-time water play that can be switched off at night to provide space for evening events and activities, a cafe which can turn into a bar and a high level play area that can be turned into a viewing platform at night, this space is for all members of the Southbank community.
Ss 3

Located north of the boardwalk, overlooked by all six buildings, the Play Bowl is a nature-integrated and landscape-focused playground and recreational space for the entire community. A group of six mature trees are located at the centre of the bowl, creating a significant level change between the base of the bowl and the highest level of the boardwalk.

The design of the play bowl uses this level change to create dynamic play space for all ages. An upper-level circular walkway encloses one of the largest mature trees. From this walkway slides, nets and climbing structures connect down to the lower level. Sinuous paths at the lower level connect more formal and informal play structures for children of different ages and abilities.

Ramped and stepped routes connect the play bowl to both residential gardens and the higher-level footpaths that surround the bowl. Planted banks, steps and seats create different usable interfaces where there are level changes.

In the centre of the bowl a flexible hard space allows for events and spill out from a café that sits below the boardwalk. At night-time the café can transform into a bar, the water can be switched off and the tree top canopy can become a viewing gallery to use for a variety of events.

Our proposal is inspired by the natural environment that is located next to the Danube River. We wondered if we could design such a place as if it had been created by nature itself. The public space will thus be spread over several levels, which will be connected to each other by a promenade. This promenade will become a space for community gathering and a major point of interest for the public.”
David West Founder and Director of Studio Egret West

Already during our first visit to Bratislava, it was obvious that nature is a key aspect of this location. The so-called 'Bowls' therefore work with the existing mature trees and other greenery in the design, while also creating a sustainable drainage system. Water thus becomes the main component of the creation of landscape architecture.”
Patrick Luth Managing Director of Snøhetta
Snohetta SEW Bratislava Snake copyright WAX Aerial view from the North (from 2022 competition entry) The development will be a balanced mix of 48% residential and 52% workplace in a central campus with accompanying public realm and retail uses at the lower levels.(WAX Architectural Visualizations)


Bratislava Southbank - how the 'bowls' are helping to preserve the trees