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Design visualisation of the entrance portal to the campus. Source: gro architects

The SAS research area will turn into a science campus of the future

13. 2. 2024 | 4106 visits

The Slovak Academy of Sciences wants to transform its campus on Patrónka in Bratislava into a modern and open science campus. An attractive vision, which defines the rules for the area's development, arose from an urban design competition. Studio gro architekti and the British Studio Egret West are the winners of the new design. The authors, whose portfolio includes proposals and implementation of several urban projects in London and Bratislava, are currently working together on the Southbank project in Bratislava. As for the SAS campus, they propose to divert car traffic around the perimeter of the campus, open a central space for pedestrians and thus provide the public with an unusual experience of contact with scientific results in the newly created Helix Park full of greenery and water features. 

The aim of the urban design competition was to find the best possible plan and development rules for the area of the Slovak Academy of Sciences in Bratislava. It is important for the Academy that this space becomes a comfortable and modern place

for work that attracts talented scientists, as well as a place for the public to relax and learn about science.

"From a rather austere socialist urbanism, the area should become a modern and, at the same time, green top scientific workplace. In order to fulfil this plan, it must meet the most demanding criteria for creative work, relaxation and interdisciplinary communication. It should also create a simple communication space for brainstorming from various fields of science,” the President of the SAS, Pavol Šajgalík, explains the main idea of ​​the SAS vision, and expects that the campus will become a new recreation zone for the citizens of the capital city, where the public will come into contact with cutting-edge science in a non-intrusive way.

The jury appreciated the clear concept of the winning proposal, which is based on two key ideas - the arrangement of the campus in the sense of clusters reflecting the scientific focus of the SAS institutes and the central Helix public park.

"The new public park bordered by a pedestrian circuit in the shape of a spiral fibre - Helix is part of the new identity of the entire SAS area and, at the same time, a strong symbol of opening to the public," explains the co-author of the winning design Juraj Palovič from the gro architekti studio.

According to the jury, the proposed concept supports mutual interaction and thus establishes new possibilities for the functioning of the scientific community. In addition, the public park transforms the space of the busy traffic. Cars will be pushed to the edge of the area, and pedestrian movement will be inside it. This gives a clear signal to both employees and visitors to the campus that the area environment is changing. In the design, the existing main entrance to the area is transformed into a representative entrance, which is connected to the climate change cluster.

"We perceive very positively the vision of the SAS area as a prime example of a science campus of the future, which builds on its historical identity and opens up the potential for future cooperation with external actors," writes the jury in its evaluation and highlights the concept of a public park. "The area is designed as an open landscape seamlessly connected to two strong natural units in the form of forested outcrops of the Lesser Carpathian massifs," states the jury. One day, for example, the population of Bratislava could walk from the ZOO through the green SAS campus to Železná studnička.

The jury also highlighted that the proposal responds to the climate crisis. The authors placed rain gardens, polders and a wetland ecosystem in the area fed by rainwater flowing from the paved areas.

The urban design competition was also a form of public procurement. The winning tandem of architectural studios will receive an order from the SAS to prepare an urban-landscape study and project documentation for the implementation of the first stage of modifications in the area. SAS expects that it will be designed in such a way that it could be implemented with the use of available resources and a minimum of administrative actions that would significantly hinder its implementation.

The SAS area in Patrónka, Bratislava, was established under the former regime. Architects such as Karol Paluš, Martin Kusý and Stanislav Talaš worked on the designs of the individual phases in the 1950s and the following decades. There is valuable architecture in the area, for example, the building of the Institute of Chemistry SAS by architect Karol Paluš, generously designed green spaces and works of art by renowned Slovak authors.

The present brought the need to redefine the vision of future development, taking into account current needs and challenges. The new development plan that emerged from the competition should allow capacity to be increased in the area if needed. SAS plans to complete the depositories and study rooms of the central library, laboratories, a kindergarten for employees, as well as accommodation and offices.

The assignment of the urban design competition for SAS was prepared in cooperation with its experts by architectural studio 2021. Before and during the competition, consultations were held with representatives of existing and planned neighbouring sites, such as the Bratislava Zoo, the revitalization project of the Patrónka of Bratislava Self-Governing Region and the Eset campus.

Members of the international jury were renowned experts such as architect Pavol Paňák of the BKPŠ studio, co-author of the reconstruction of the Slovak National Gallery, Czech architect Petr Pelčák who has experience in creating university buildings, and Czech architect and urban planner Michal Kohout, co-founder of the Unit architekti studio. The city of Bratislava was also represented in the jury through the director of the territorial planning section of the Metropolitan Institute of Bratislava, architect Martin Berežný.

The public can see the visualizations of the winning project, together with other proposals that entered the competition, in the vestibule of the SAS Auditorium in the SAS campus at Dúbravská cesta 9 in Bratislava.

You can find the results of the urban design competition on the SAS website and the archinfo.sk portal


Prepared by Katarína Gáliková

Photo: Martin Bystriansky, studio gro architects

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