Beko Masterplan by
Zaha Hadid Architects


Zaha Hadid Architects has designed a swirling complex of apartments, offices and leisure facilities on the abandoned site of an old textile factory in Belgrade, Serbia (+ slideshow).

Beko Masterplan by Zaha Hadid Architects

Covering an area of around 94,000 square metres, the Beko complex will give the historic Dorcol quarter a new destination on a site that is just 500 metres from the city centre but is currently unused and inaccessible.

Beko Masterplan by Zaha Hadid Architects

The proposed cluster of building will also accommodate a five-star hotel, a congress centre, galleries and shops, as well as underground parking facilities for visitors and residents.

Beko Masterplan by Zaha Hadid Architects

Zaha Hadid Architects took influence from the twentieth century Modernist architecture that is typical in the capital and combined it with the studio's signature parametric style to design a cluster of buildings that will appear to flow into one another.

Beko Masterplan by Zaha Hadid Architects

"The masterplan follows the region's strong Modernist traditions and has applied new concepts and methods that examine and organize the programs of the site; defining a composition of buildings with the elegance of coherence that addresses the complexity of twenty-first century living patterns," said Zaha Hadid.

Beko Masterplan by Zaha Hadid Architects

The curved walls of the buildings will fold around a series of new squares and gardens. "The design for Beko is embedded within the surrounding landscape of Belgrade’s cultural axis and incorporates essential public spaces," said Hadid.

Beko Masterplan by Zaha Hadid Architects

"It is absolutely critical to invest in these public spaces that engage with the city. They are a vital component of a rich urban life and cityscape, uniting the city and tying the urban fabric together," she added.

Beko Masterplan by Zaha Hadid Architects

Above: the existing site 

The complex will be delivered as part of a £168 million regeneration project that includes a new waterfront public space by Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto, as well as a new bridge across the Sava river.

Beko Masterplan by Zaha Hadid Architects

Above: the existing site 

The architects will present the detailed proposals at the 2013 Belgrade Design Week, which takes place in June.

Beko Masterplan by Zaha Hadid Architects

Above: the existing site 

Zaha Hadid Architects has also just been selected to design a new national stadium for Japan and completed an art gallery at Michigan State University.

See all our stories about Zaha Hadid Architects »

Here's some more information from the Belgrade Design Week Organisers:

Zaha Hadid regenerates Belgrade’s key historic site

The new contemporary development at the location of the former Beko textile factory, designed by Zaha Hadid, will mark the continuance of Belgrade’s signature "Modernist" movement, which was abruptly discontinued in the 1980s. The new multifunctional complex near Kalemegdan will awaken Belgrade’s spirit of modernism – the iconic style of the Serbian capital in the thirties, fifties and seventies.

Each of these decades was marked by key buildings which are, to this day, the landmarks of Belgrade and the region: The iconic Albania Palace and Radio Belgrade in the Thirties, the entire New Belgrade development with its crown jewel - the Palace of Serbia in the Fifties, Sava Center and the “25th of May” Sports Center in the Seventies… However, the development of such an progressive spirit was brutally cut short with the crisis after the death of Tito in the Eighties and the disintegration of Yugoslavia and the ensuing economic sanctions in the Nineties.

Belgrade went through a difficult struggle in the first decade of the XXI century trying to find its lost path, and now, with joint efforts of private and public investors, in the ‘10’s of the new millennium, the city finally caught an exiting momentum with first designs which are worthy successors of the famous modernist past, such as the “Ada” Bridge, the Port of Sava “Cloud”, the new “BEKO”, the “Center for the Promotion of Science”, Zira, Falkensteiner and Square Nine Hotels, the “Museum of Science and Technology” and the new urban plan for the Port of Belgrade, the “West 57” development... With the new world quality contests, designs and built environment, Belgrade saw also the return of leading global architects such Daniel Libeskind, Boris Podrecca, Wolfgang Tschapeller, Isay Weinfeld, Sou Fujimoto and last but not least Zaha Hadid. The engagement of Santiago Calatrava for a new Belgrade Philharmonic is also announced.

Regardless of opinions about the commission of “starchitects”, Belgrade will become the first city in the South East European region to have a building designed by the arguably world’s most successful architecture studio at the moment: Zaha Hadid Architects from London, UK. A unique multifunctional complex at the location of the former Beko factory at the Danube riverside, jointly with the proposed “Cloud” by the Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto on the adjoining Sava waterfront, will mark the revitalization of an entire area key to Belgrade’s development and history – the Confluence waterfront crescent from Small Kalemegdan to Beton Hala.

Poised to become the city’s new and happening center, the BEKO complex will cover the area of 94,000 square meters and include cutting edge residential spaces, galleries, offices, a five-star hotel, a (much needed for Belgrade) state-of-art congress center, retail spaces and a department store… The residential part will consist of top-quality finishes and building systems and the complex will also include a huge underground parking lot, maintenance service and security. The project is designed as a complex which offers a complete variety of services to the users who live or work there, to hotel guests and visitors. The immediate vicinity to the confluence riverside, with the pedestrian connection to the "Cloud", will contribute to never before seen residential conditions in Belgrade, almost comparable to seaside marinas. In fact, this currently abandoned part of the city, will infuse a completely new life to the historical quarter of Dorcol - daily visitors, residents and tenants will be able to walk from the modern complex by a new planned bridge to Novak Djokovic’s adjacent tennis club and all the other recreational contents of the 25th May Sports Centre and then continue the pedestrians and bicycle paths to the restaurants and bars in the Beton Hala and Savamala area.

The Greek company Lamda Development bought the BEKO factory building and the plot in 2007, for EUR 55.8 million at a public auction.

Having in mind the complexity of the project, the new innovative materials and cutting edge systems which will be used during the construction, the total investment is expected to exceed EUR 200 million. From the beginning of the project planning to the realization of the project more than 2000 people will be involved, while the complex will permanently create about 1000 new jobs from all sorts of professions.

This complex will certainly set new standards in the Serbian and SEE market primarily living standards, but also in the field of architecture and construction. Considering several solutions by invited leading global architectural bureau, Lamda development finally chose the proposal by Zaha Hadid Architects. Thanks to the experience in constructing modern buildings in the vicinity of historic buildings and pushing the boundaries of architecture and urban planning, Zaha Hadid’s projects have become recognized all over the world. The main idea of the Zaha Hadid’s signature style, Parametricism, is introducing fluid forms into architecture, the forms and shapes existing in nature, in the flora and fauna. The buildings designed by Zaha Hadid transcend construction stereotypes: there are no rigid forms, no straight lines, no symmetry, no repetition, no standard function-based divisions of space. The buildings look different from every angle, the forms are round and fluid and the space is not segmented, it flows seamlessly from one room to another.

  • god

    In b4 ZHA Dezeen comment section shitstorm.

  • Miley

    Amazing building… impatient to see it in real :)

    • dag

      It is a horrible building, please… A good rendering does not make good architecture!

  • Chris

    Random 3D modeling not architecture.

    • Frank

      Lots of 3D modelling. Definitely not random.

  • Ogier de Beauseant

    This will pass.

  • Jan

    I’m actually getting tired of saying I’m getting tired of what Hadid does. Which doesn’t mean I’m starting to like it, quite the opposite. It’s just that it’s not even worth talking or discussing anymore. I just feel like ignoring it and waiting till it stops own it’s own.

    • gus

      So it’s meta-criticism then.

    • mmm

      Easy to ignore when it’s not being built in your own city.

    • JohnyBgood

      Yeah, just like there is “art for art’s sake” this is “curves for curves’ sake” or “**** for ****’s sake”. I hope they don’t build this nonsense but if they do they should call it the Kim Kardashian building. Rich in curves but pretty much no meaningful content or good taste :-)

  • Nee-no

    Looks like a depressing set of ****** office blocks or a Costa del Sol hotel development melting down a sink plug hole. She is one of my heros which makes it worse.

    • dag


  • Mike

    It's remarkable how stylised and formulaic her designs are becoming.

    • Ahsan Mahmoud

      Ok let's not look then.

  • dara

    This is really awful stuff. Hadid is getting carried away with herself here. It’s like a 2 minute sketch has been transformed into a building. I hope this isn’t the future of architecture.

    • Jester

      Next time you see a thumbnail of her work, please don't open the link anymore so you will not be disappointed. We don't need negative criticism without substantial critique on the worth of the work itself.

  • Argyro

    This is bad architecture for many reasons and mostly because it is irrelevant to its time, which makes me wonder why it still gets published.

    • Mezza notte

      Don't look if it looks bad to you.
      It is relevant to its time. Have you seen an airport in gothic style?
      This structure reflects what is in vogue today.

  • JMA

    Looks really nice! Love the retaining of the existing building, the cladding then swooping off into the new build is great.

    • Novalinnhe

      Awww, c’mon guys. It’s the “in” thing to hate on Zaha at the moment, but I don’t think there’s any need to be negative towards people who have a different opinion. JMA hasn’t said anything bad at all, just that he likes it. He’s allowed to like it if he wants.

      I’m jaded towards Hadid’s architecture because my university lecturer hates her with a passion, and she tends to be on the “what not to do in architecture” slideshows he makes, lol!. So from now on, I’m trying to withhold all judgement about her until I get a chance to see one of her buildings in person, for myself.

      If anything, it’s the whole “hero shot” culture – probably down to websites like these – which needs a hauling-over. Architecture which nicely suits its surroundings, or architecture which is visually “quiet”… people won’t click because on a flat 2D computer screen, it looks boring. Stuff like Hadid’s work gets the clicks, the attention, the website features, because of how visually arresting it is to us as humans.

      Perhaps Hadid has simply recognised this and is using it to her advantage? Because if so it would make her quite clever, embracing the 21st century and all that.

      All in all, we can’t know anything about her work from the highly-cropped, heavily-fixed shots we’re given. This may actually look stunning from the ground, but we can genuinely never know. Perhaps a new shift to possible “faux 3D viewing”, like videos and those 360 panoramas and whatnot, is in order? :)

  • LOW

    Zaha, please stop.

  • Dave Gronlie

    Why am I thinking of roller coasters?

  • boo

    Wonder what the stats on “death by skateboard” will look like if it’s built as shown?

  • Got skis?


  • I am wondering if this would be a decent discussion if it wasn’t Hadid who designed the thing. I hope that this kind of architecture remains on small scale.

  • name not needed

    Toothpaste architecture.

    • Novalinnhe

      Toothpaste architecture? o_O

      *scrolls up*

      Ohhhhhhhh! Gotcha.

  • whatwhy

    Host of the next X Games motocross event.

  • Taro Chan

    Haha… did not realise that just “leeeeeaching” onto the skin of an existing building can make the space “flow” from one to another.

  • Craig

    Starchitects disease?

    • Zara habibi

      It's what makes starchitects starchitects. Great work, intrigue, drama.

  • Despite the lack of creativity by repeating same typology over and over, the fact that she has won Pritzker Prize and has been appointed in so many high-profiled projects is undeniable. At least she is consistent in defining her identity time after time.

  • B.Arch Student

    Wow. Did she use SketchUp?

    • Zara habibi

      Learn from her, B.Arch Student. Find your style, stick to it, be a good business person. Someday you could be a starchitect too. And know that people will either hate or love your work.

  • GMAC

    It’s like a 60s council estate started melting. Look at all those wonderful public spaces cleverly plunged into darkness by the orientation of the buildings. This offices work is starting to become very predictable and at times is actually pretty bad.

  • Mr. Jinkles

    Guys, we have to understand that this is her architectural style, her legacy for humanity, if you will. We have to live with that just like we have to live with Mies, Gaudi, Michelangelo, Le Corbusier, and other b@$$***d$ of architecture committing crimes in our cities. People die – critics and lovers alike – but their works survive. Isn’t that amazing!

    I love architecture. The variety and styles that evolved over time is beyond me. And I’m not an architect so don’t get me started on your archi-rants :)

    Agreed to some – those flowing buttresses could be dangerous.

    • Mrs. Jinkles

      Michelangelo, Gaudi, Mies, Corb, Zaha?!

      Erm… I’m speechless.

      Mr. Jinkles talking a load of jinkles!! Sorry, I’m still laughing at the whole Zaha Michelangelo thing.

      • Mr. Jinkles

        Oh, Mrs Jinkles! Glad I don’t hear and see you laughing. Fortunately you wouldn’t survive long enough to see when future generations of student architects will study Hadid’s unique, signature architectural style. I’m not saying she will rise to the heavenly level of those illustrious ones. But her works will endure. Unlike yours, if you’re a starlet architect? You’re entitled to your opinion.

  • pip

    Seems more diagrammatic than previous iterations. Swap rendered curves for Dutch graphics and suddenly you can’t help but start to see a relationship with BIG’s Orestad project.

    Just a thought… I do have to wonder about that enormous generic extrusion that’s trying its best to disappear.

  • 3DD

    I love early Hadid's work. So sad to see where she is heading now.

    • Zara habibi

      She’s heading to greater heights in success and a place where projects are more frequent. So sad.

  • ronia

    I’m not a historian (I’m a beginner-architect) and I have to say that the old stone wall from the 4th pictures is much more spiritual for me than all that selfish “made in Zaha” volumes.

    • pantope

      Being a beginner you can give a pure unspoiled comment and you are absolutely right. Whoever knows that fortress will hate this project.

    • LE

      Well, those walls have witnessed many changes in history. But this: have mercy.

  • MTB

    Seemingly designed in isolation.

  • The Pinchhitter

    Looks like she just re-designed the Galaxy Soho that she did for Beijing. Personally, I don’t hate this proposal, but I love the existing buildings more.

  • Damir

    As a BMX and trial rider I’d love to ride those slopes and curves from the pavement to the roof and back :) Love the design, though.

  • Nick

    I believe that Hadid and Schumacher (let’s not forget Schumacher) are truly imagining and creating a strong, real alternative to postmodern or deconstructivist architecture.
    I really don’t understand people saying that this is not architecture for our times (when for the first time a building is imagined, developed and built with the technologies being that parameters are used to create computer generated shapes and not thanks to them). I think that what they’re doing is remarkably connected to the world we live in. My only concern is the fact that Hadid and Schumacher are completely screwing their credibility building enormous eco and architectural monsters in countries where recently amassed monetary fortunes allow them to “buy” international cultural credibility through the naive “bigger is better” way. See China and a bunch of middle east countries.

  • K from Belgrade

    Being from Belgrade I think this is a disaster for the city. There is no sensitivity to the context at all, not in a single millimetre of the design. That is an amazing site where the fortress overlooks a national preservation park – the totally green river island in front – while the scheme just comes across as a blind and selfish promotion of parametricism. It is extremely ugly and banal, and someone just imagining this to be a movement is totally delusional and needs hospitalisation. What is even worse are the claims that the design relates to the context. It takes not more than few grams of brain to see that it is just not true when it comes to Belgrade. It is fine to have a business park at the outskirts that looks like that because this is where this can be forgiven. All her schemes start to look generic – same as those 80s business parks. I am really annoyed by this arrogance.

    • A from Belgrade

      Just embodying the existing planning and social problem in Belgrade – no regard for the city, no regard for the people!!

    • Kenon

      Similarly, have you still not forgiven baroque architects who built monstrous structures in a city with predominantly gothic architecture? Isn’t New York or Chicago skyline beautiful with all the variety of architectural styles? The general public doesn’t care much about the “context”. People will occupy any space, make use of it and enjoy it. This project is not bad at all. Serbians deserve something new and different.

      • K from Belgrade

        It is just not a good project. It is unreasonably expensive and it is the same as if you put a big shoe on site. It is oriented towards the inside of the block rather towards the outside and does not make any use of the surrounding. It is an approach of pure self-indulgence in intuitive, expressive formalism and as a project is not conceived in relation to anything. It is self-referential and isolated.

        I do admire Zaha’s talent and achievements generally and I wouldn’t mind this project if it was a student exercise but to build it I think is just waste of time and money and I don’t think Serbs are incapable of using their space much better than this. I don’t know how the plans work but I am pretty sure that there is not much difference from the typical office building so therefore I am not really sure what is new about it, especially having in mind that it looks like her last 15 projects. No difference at all. Not sure what Belgrade and Tokyo have in common if you look at the latest stadium project or the one in China, that one is slightly more spacious and organized and this one is like a spitted chewing gum.

  • Ptr

    Uhm, what kind of freak people will prefer to live and work there? Just watching the renderings, I already feel numb.

  • Fizz

    Hadid has surpassed herself. And you can take that in any way you wish.

  • Гастарбајтер

    C'mon people, not this monster below the Kalemegdan walls. Totally out of contest. "Belgrade’s spirit of modernism" my a**

  • Guz

    I’m not an architect, but everytime I see Hadid’s work being posted here, it gets abused. To me, these remarks seem cowardly, because they hold no rationale. It is just a rant without the invitation to discuss, and without the invitation to discuss, you are not giving others to challenge your criticisms.

    So at least comment on why you think it is not good?

    I’m interested to hear different rationales and critisisms, not just blatant abuses.

    • Hadid was saying about how cultural axis incorporates essential public spaces and how it is absolutely critical to invest in these public spaces that engage with the city.

      I was wondering if it will work out for this project as she intended. Because the buildings (apartments, offices and leisure facilities) around the axis (courtyard) are like an eye watching over you, so I am afraid that this axis will be used by the local people only for a shortcut to the other side. The occupants of the surrounding buildings are the ones who might use it, but not the local people. To make this idea work is all depending on Belgrade’s lifestyle and leisure facillities. So there is a high risk that this axis will create a kind of community of people. Is this what Belgrade wants? The fundamental importance is to know the consequence of creating spaces.

      Nice flowing lines, round shapes and volumes in Hadid’s work often loses spaces (require lots of space). The function of the spaces are often not flexible, they can only be used for a specific purpose. Her work and this one also is an example of “more is less”.

      Actually her work can be placed everywhere on earth, because it has no origin. Wherever you place it, it is always in contrast with the surroundings. This could be the reason that cultures will lose their values. I just hope it will not be a standard!

      “Aesthetics without losing cultural values is equal to functional spaces not only for today but also for tomorrow”. Is my opinion to architecture.

      • Stewart

        Tell me a beloved, iconic, well known, useful structure that does not contrast with its surroundings. Eiffel Tower was criticized vehemently. So was the WTC. They were considered out of context. But over time the cities embraced them and they became icons.

        If constructed, this could become one of Belgrade’s attraction. And it will contrast with the old fort nicely.

        “This could be the reason that cultures will lose their values” – please tell me you thought about it for only a second.

        • Novalinnhe

          I quite like her little quote at the end, although you are very much correct about the Eiffel Tower. What was first considered, again, to be obtusely out of context is now the single most quintessentially Parisian image you could present to a person.

          I believe what the problem is here (meaning the problem people have with the building as opposed to my own issues with it) is that any sort of cultural attribution that could be given to this building, like the Eiffel Tower, is lost because we can see the same designs replicated (or at least echoed) in dozens of other countries all over the world.

          So for one culture to embrace this as their own is rather akin to the western world’s embracing of jeans. You could take a young person from America, Brazil, Scotland or Azerbaijan and – visually – it would be remarkably difficult to tell the difference.

          My person opinion is that as long as the building makes sense from the ground – in all four dimensions, not the two that we are accustomed to on our screens – and is financially, culturally and (most imporantly!) environmentally conscious, then all we really need to do is roll with the punches. We can’t progress without making a few more tentative steps into the unknown.

          It is a shame we are slowly losing our cultural identities, but maybe this will be a good thing in the end. Who knows :)

  • Lulu

    Utterly ridiculous looking. And how on earth is anyone supposed to walk up those bizarre grassy paths without climbing apparatus? It looks like a normal building reflected in a spoon. Oof.

  • Greenish

    No human-eye view shots which is probably quite telling, it's all very well looking clever from the air but if it looks like a generic office block with the side falling off at eye level then that's not a win.

  • LB123

    Please lady, stop this architecture!

    • Don't blame her, blame the puppet master!

    • Sargento

      Not in the near future. This is her passion. Can’t stop her now, sorry.
      (I’m not a big fan but I kinda like some of her works – and I love her drive. Star architects are great business people too)

  • dUMB

    New concepts and methods, examine and organise the programs of the site, engage with the city, uniting the city and tying the urban fabric together, the design for Beko is embedded within the surrounding landscape of Belgrade’s cultural axis.

    Now look at the images again!

  • Renata Rubim

    If you look at Brazilian Oscar Niemeyer (just passed away) and look at Zaha´s you can see the big, real difference: Niemeyer´s work has essence, is consistent, while Zaha´s is pyrotechnics.

  • dUMB

    Extract from the ‘Belgrade Design Week Organisers’ statement above:

    The buildings designed by Zaha Hadid transcend construction stereotypes: there are no rigid forms, no straight lines, no symmetry, no repetition, no standard function-based divisions of space.

    It’s the bit about straight lines – if you recall before Schumacher joined her work was practically all straight lines!

  • Jon

    As if we will ever experience a building from a bird’s eye view. Another example of ‘rooftecture’ by the madam herself. She needs to spend some time reading Juhani Pallasmaa before wreaking formalized havoc on the world.

    • Novalinnhe

      You have a very good point. It’s all well and good having beautiful plane-shots like this, but what’s it like when you’re walking past? I actually believe Hadid is very clever – shots like these are what get all the comments, clicks and likes online these days. If she could perhaps find a way to utilise the “worm’s eye view” too, I think the negative bias towards her may slowly change.

      After all, 99% of the people commenting here won’t ever actually see this building in real life, in their lifetimes, ever. I wish we could find some opinions from people on the ground! :(

  • Jean

    Looks like a Google map glitch. The existing site seems more interesting than the new project.

  • Sebastien

    To Dezeen: please stop posting news of Zaha Hadid! There are so many other great architects in the world to talk about!

  • fivedollarshake

    £168 million budget for a masterplan and this is what you get?

    Here’s an alternative: let some young local architects get involved in large-scale projects like that. The result may end up being shocking like this, but at least save some cash on bad star architects’ designs and it would surely be a bit more sustainable that way. Or maybe, just maybe, you get a smart elegant design and you create a new identity for Belgrade.

    To all you don’t-look-at-it-if-you-don’t-like-it-people: we HAVE to comment on it, because these formalistic birds-eye-projects always seem to ignore YOU – the person that’s going to have to use the building. And what about the public spaces?

    The focus shouldn’t be on straight lines or curves. At the end of the day we have to ask ourselves whether this is humane or not and if it’s respectful to its surroundings.

  • Novalinnhe

    I’ve spent a lot of time commenting on this article, but was wondering if somebody could please help me. There is a building (or ruin?) semi-featured in some of these images – the fifth one if you are looking at the slideshow at the top, and the fourth image as you are scrolling down.

    It looks BEAUTIFUL, like a fairytale castle; churches have always been my favourite type of architecture in the world. :) Does anybody perhaps have the name of this building, or perhaps a more accurate location than just “Belgrade”? Thank you so much! :)

  • pirate-china

    Had the liquify button pressed too long in the modeling program. Not my taste.

  • miles

    I don’t know what prejudices are at play here, but this building has its merits. I’m not an avid fan or critic of Zaha’s work, but to take a series of buildings with different uses and flow them seamlessly into the landscape and one another strikes me as highly competent. I imagine a first year who sketched this could not turn their sketch into a building. On that note, I am still impressed with Zaha’s work: ever evolving, ever growing in complexity and technique.

  • lissy

    Why is this called a “masterplan” when its just a huge and ugly building?

  • Looks like an escapee from an old sci-fi magazine; which is no criticism actually, as I like curvy buildings, and in particular her morphing from rectilinear old to swirling new.

    However, the scale and extent are too much, and the public spaces need integrating in a more intelligent way. As it stands, the design seems to have virtually ignored them.