The location of the competition area represents the junction of one of the rare, top-level developmental potentials of the city of Maribor. It’s a unique, not entirely built-up plot of land on the edge of the medieval city walls, adjacent to the corridor of the Drava River. It serves as an ecologically developmental axis for the modern tourist-energy-agricultural region of Lower Podravje. Long-term urban development and building must, therefore, be based on respecting shared principles, with which the city will set an attractive and sustainable scenario for the use and improvement of this space, as well as this part of the city, in a way that it becomes economically successful, pleasant, and appealing for active living and work.
The fundamental goals of the vision for the Drava River and the city of Maribor are to improve the environmental condition and living quality of the area, reduce environmental risks, make use of the spatial attractions of the region, rationally allocate investment funds, increase the economic competitiveness of the region and employability of the local population, and ensure sustainable use of local natural resources. Today, the river is an indispensable natural, landscape, environmental, and micro-climatic element of the city, whose qualities are becoming increasingly apparent to the city’s residents.
The area between the Water Tower and the Railway Bridge naturally represents a half-kilometer stretch of the Drava waterfront, equal in length to the waterfront of the old Lent district between Sodni and Vodni Tower. All areas in front of the buildings will be paved, as well as the embankments, which will be paved and reinforced. In the new part of the Drava embankment arrangement, which is the subject of the competition, we propose a park for a city beach dominated by organized greenery, clusters of tall shade trees, walking paths, spaces for lounging, recreation, and natural coexistence with the river and nature. The park is themed as an “urban garden,” complemented with green spaces for lounging and seating, equipped with wooden terraces for sunbathing and resting. The park spans the Drava promenade path lengthwise, splitting into three parts in the area of the old quay by the Water Tower. All three paths are transversely linked by park passages among clusters of trees and relief platforms of lawns.
The eastern area of the waterfront, with the expansion of the water channel, is designed as a river bay, representing a harbor. An esplanade attaches above the harbor – a fortified square – a new landscaped layout of public space. The square is designed on multiple levels in a way that it forms an entry-exit point for boats, a berth for the city’s water traffic, an entry point for recreational boats, and a boathouse. This is an important urban and architectural balance between the elevated objects and the open parterre, enhanced by the expanded water motif. The interweaving of ambivalent spaces of open, semi-open, and closed street landscapes extends into public space and successfully connects to the peripheral streets, the Drava embankment, Lent, and the Titov Bridge.
Planned apartments can be placed in four verticals – tower buildings – above the second floor of the ground-floor commercial program, with direct access to the basement. Each of the four towers has separate indirect access from the street parterre or the ground-floor courtyard. The key advantage of living in the towers is the vertical aspect, with exposed panoramic views and quality sunlight. The apartments are designed with semi-open loggias that can be closed, as well as open balconies equipped with garden beds. The shared program of the residential complex of the four towers represents a rooftop garden above the second floor, along with a purpose-designed dual-purpose roof above Maribox, which houses ventilation devices and includes children’s playgrounds, a barbecue corner, a reading room, a meditation room, a terrace for grilling, etc. The activation of the roof is both structurally feasible and meaningful as a comprehensive completion of the collective garden for residents. The facades of the designed project’s towers are designed dually – in the composition of the external facade envelope and the internal core. The envelope that compositionally combines the pedestal with the vertical towers is designed in a utilitarian manner; flat, transparent, and reflective, in the form of a facade fabric. In contrast, the internal facades are articulated and relief-varied with balconies, loggias, and terraces.