HE NA DRINI offices . Visegrad


The close proximity to the Mehmed-Pasha Sokolovic Bridge is the catalyst that defines this design for the Hidroelektrane na Arini a.d. Visegrad (HE NA DRINI) Office Building. The entire proposal celebrates this important world heritage site, while engaging with the public and creating an efficient workplace.

The building learns from its surroundings: its size, massing and regard to the street, are contextual, but its center is hollow. The central void is on axis with the Bridge to create a dynamic response to its presence. The majestic Bridge should not terminate in the flat façade of an office building, instead its path continues through the building to link pedestrians to the Narrow-Guage Rail and the city beyond. The center of the building turns into a public amphitheater that places the Bridge at center stage.

The central opening provides access to the HE NA DRINI offices and the Bridge Museum, located on the 2nd floor. The Museum’s placement offers a stunning panoramic view over the Mehmed-Pasha Sokolovic Bridge and the Drina River.

1) Ideal office massing synchronized with context of site
2) Reaction to the axis of the bridge splits the mass in two
3) Infusion of public space creates spatial variation
4) Connection between bridge, narrow guage rail, and city beyond
5) A façade that blends with local tradition
6) Building integration into historic and urban context

The building’s massing is based on ideal office dimensions regarding efficiency and light. It fits within the envelope of the former high-school building it replaces. The central void breaks the scale of the building to integrate it into the surrounding urban context.
The sandstone façade reflects the Bridge’s materiality, but proclaims its own character through rectilinear forms – the Bridge is arched. The window-to-wall ratio reflects the local tradition of punched openings in Visegrad without denying is curtain-wall provenance. The rhythm and proportion of the widows are in dialogue with the central void to channel visitors into the open space.
Access to the office spaces is on the first floor. From there the offices wrap around the central void – effectively separating employee circulation from pedestrians and tourists. All executive offices are located on the top floor with stunning views over the Drina River. The remaining office spaces are organized as open-plan offices where desks, kitchenettes, and lounges make a creative and collaborative work environment.

The building design takes advantage of the specific climate of Visegrad. In the summer the building is conditioned via a night cooling system that takes advantage of cool nighttime temperatures. By automatically operating the windows at night, natural air chills the exposed concrete ceiling and prepares the building for a hot summer day. To avoid over heating during the summer, a decentralized ventilation system provides fresh outside air that is pre-cooled to maintain a comfortable building temperature.
Floor based radiant heating provides comfortable temperature during the winter months. Radiant heat combined with decentralized ventilation units are powered by a water-source-heat-pump tied to the river - if permitted by state and local laws. This is the ultimate utilization of the building’s proximity to the river.

In general the structural system of the He Na Drini Office Building can be described as a hybrid-system, since it is a mixture of concrete and steel elements.
Major parts consist of a conventional and very cost-effective concrete frame construction. Due to the short span-lengths of the cast-in-place concrete slabs, which are based on the grid dimensions of 6 x 4.5m, the thickness of the slabs is 30cm or less, therefore an economical and sustainable structure can be realized.

All concrete slabs are supported by cast-in-place concrete beams. The lateral stiffness of the structure is guaranteed by three massive concrete cores. Thus all walls can be conducted as light-weight separating walls.
Two steel truss girders, supported by steel columns, are required in order to carry the cantilever parts of the building, which are connected to the steel truss girders by steel hangers.
The exterior walls of the basement and the base plate are conducted as a ´white basin´, using impermeable concrete to protect against high water-level in case of high flood-waters of the Drina River. Individual foundations are required below the mega-columns.


LOCATION: Visegrad, Bosnia Herzegovina
CLIENT: HPPs on Drina river
SIZE: 200,000 sq ft
SCOPE: Competition
STATUS: 3rd Prize
TEAM: Matthias Hollwich, Marc Kushner, Robert May, Michael Golden, Juhyun Kim, Louis Koehl
TAGS: Commercial

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