The new look of the Water Tower is based on the design proposed by the Slovak studio – Superatelier. According to the jury, the winning design best blends the historical object with its immediate surroundings and with the new development planned under the Vydrica project. The assignment of the architectural competition was a request of the municipality enshrined in the Memorandum of Understanding with the developer. The City of Bratislava is also the owner of the Water Tower national cultural heritage site and land.
The winner of the architectural design competition for the future look of the national cultural heritage site and record of Bratislava’s ancient history – the Water Tower – has been announced. Having examined the outstanding presentations from seven architectural ateliers from Slovakia and the Czech Republic, the jury decided the best design was submitted by Slovakia-based architecture and design studio, Superatelier. According to the jurors, who agreed on the winner unanimously, the winning project best blends the historical object with its immediate surroundings and the planned new development under the Bratislava Castle. The jury also acknowledged the potential of the winning project to create positive emotions in visitors and residents and encourage their desire to explore. All the designs submitted in the competition will be presented to the public at an exhibition in the Rudnay Square from 23 May to 19 June 2022, or on the Vydrica project website.
The key element of the winning design from Superatelier is a circle which connects the historical site with the surrounding public spaces. The circular design with a footbridge allows the exploration and viewing of the entire site from a multitude of angles. The openness of the winning design to the surrounding environment, the natural flow of movement around the site and the neutral architecture of the pavilion positively contribute to the presentation of the archaeological site. For the Water Tower, the authors chose a welded wire mesh solution which hints at the volume and shape of the original historical structure. Similar solutions are commonly used for the presentation of historical structures abroad, as they showcase them in an appealing and attractive way to visitors. The monument is integrated into the city and becomes a functional and fully-fledged urban space.
“The proposed solution is a reference to how to live and coexist with the historical monument and, at the same time, it keeps the entire space at a human scale. The monument is the central feature to which the whole area relates. Encirclement by the dominant feature creates a number of secluded spots which, along with the perfectly designed routes, passages and footbridges, naturally encourages people to explore the whole space,” said the jury chairman, Czech architect Jiří Buček, a member of the Czech Chamber of Architects.
Take the 3D virtual tour and experience the winning design for the Water Tower and the surrounding public space designed by Superatelier:
The Water Tower site will become the central point of the entire zone
The design competition sought to find a meaningful way to integrate the Water Tower national cultural heritage site into a new urban structure and create an attractive zone serving social and cultural functions including the archaeological site, which will be open to the public.
“Until recently, the Water Tower and its immediate vicinity were a solitary feature in the middle of badly-kept surroundings, which diminished its historical significance for a long time. With the new development, we have a unique opportunity to reintegrate the Water Tower into the urbanistic context and to reclaim the place it rightly deserves. Its central location in the heart of the new urban development will make it a focal point for the entire zone. It will also be a great challenge for architects not to create, when linking it to an emerging web of streets and public spaces, a physical and mental barrier, but to create a historical and urbanistic area that will connect the past with the future and the natural landscape with the urbanised environment,” saidRoman Žitňanský, head of the MIB Public Spaces Section, explaining the challenges associated with the revitalisation of this historical site.
Zuzana Aufrichtová, head of the Bratislava-Staré Mesto city district, also emphasised the importance of reviving the Water Tower site to create a high quality space for cultural and social life: “As the central city district in which the project will be implemented, we very much appreciate having been given the chance to have our say as regards the evaluation of the presented designs. This is important, as this involves connecting the historical monument with the new development, which is always a very delicate issue. For such integration, it’s essential to have it assessed from different professional viewpoints. Therefore, Staré Mesto took an extremely responsible approach to the evaluation of the presented proposals, in the best interest of the locality in question. The proposals met the highest standards and introduced many interesting ideas. Staré Mesto was represented on the jury by its Head of Zoning and Development, Martina Majorošová, who also lectures at the Faculty of Civil Engineering of the Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava.”
Martina Majorošová, a jury member for Bratislava-Staré Mesto, said the competition brought a number of interesting perspectives as regards the future look of the site. “Renowned architectural ateliers took part in the competition, presenting a diversity of ideas for the area in question, which was reflected in a variety of final designs. All the designs contain interesting ideas and definitely have strong potential to make the Water Tower and its surroundings more pleasant and attractive. The winning design offers a completely elaborated solution that perfectly combines the planned new development with the existing historical monument.”
Ivo Štassel, director of the Municipal Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments in Bratislava, was an expert advisor to the jury. According to Štassel, a presentation of the Water Tower archaeological site was originally drawn up in the 1980s in line with the then valid methodological criteria. “However, the idea of an enclosed locality solely intended for educational purposes proved unviable. Therefore, it was necessary to introduce a new approach to the presentation of the historical monument with the use of new technologies, based on the principle of openness towards a wider environment.”
About the Water Tower design competition
The Water Tower national cultural heritage site, located on land belonging to the City of Bratislava, is one of the oldest historical monuments in Bratislava, and its oldest parts date to the 2nd to 11th century. The general idea for its revitalisation is to create a public space to host cultural events. To this end, a new pavilion is planned to serve as a cultural and social hub.
The assignment and terms of the competition were consulted with the Metropolitan Institute of Bratislava (MIB), the Municipal Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments in Bratislava, the Regional Monuments Board and the Bratislava-Staré Mesto municipal authority.
VYDRICA DEVELOPMENT, the developer of the Vydrica project, has committed to preserving and reviving historical objects in this area by signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the City of Bratislava in October 2020.