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Milan Rašković, architect, partner and director, Bureau Cube Partners

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Milan Rašković, architect, partner and director, Bureau Cube Partners

Restoring The SANU Building’s Splendour

Architectural studio Bureau Cube Partners offers a set of complete services throughout the entire process of constructing a facility. This studio’s portfolio is impressive, as is the list of locations where it has been, or currently, engaged as architectural designers and holders of investment and technical documentation.

“We are characterised by expertise and professionalism, while we additionally build upon and improve the quality of our design services with a special commitment to the interests of clients, understanding for their needs and an awareness of opportunities and processes on the local market, but also global trends,” emphasises Mr Rašković

Your company offers a complete service throughout the entire construction process. Why is it good to hold all the stages of a job in your own hands?

Bureau partners logoYes, you are right. To the extent that it is required of us, in addition to tasks that are primarily related to the preparation and implementation of projects within the scope of architecture, we can provide a complete service, upon request, which follows a complex investment – from site selection and comprehensive analysis, through the implementation of the entire, very complex design process, to design and professional oversight, which provides clients with additional certainty in the process of realising an investment cycle.

Thanks to that, we are able – to the extent that is justified and acceptable, with the highest value at our disposal, as reflected in our personnel and professionally trained people – to continuously monitor all processes, with unified control mechanisms of key points in the preparation, design and implementation/execution parts of the cycle.

You have an impressive portfolio. Is there anything that stands out as being particularly demanding, inspiring, unusual, difficult…?

We work a lot, work everywhere and are always mostly occupied with current projects, regardless of all previous successes and achievements, so each of them has some peculiarities of its own that are almost always simultaneously a major challenge, in addition to design aspirations, to us as moderators and creators of that micro-environment under the framework of an urban complex and in the scope of the functional aspirations of clients. Alongside the twenty-odd characteristically diverse projects that we are currently engaged on, and which are in different phases of their development cycle, there are two very specific, demanding and extremely complex architectural projects that stand out and on which our attention is especially focused.

Our team of architects creates attractive architectural units, harmonised with the context and their immediate environment, and aligned with the vision and requirements of the client

These are the projects to reconstruct, adapt, functionally integrate and extend the palace of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts and the Hotel Bristol. Both of them, each in its own way, represent extremely important facilities with highly valued and confirmed monumental statuses, which were created during one epoch, in an almost identical period of time, so the work on projects to comprehensively reconstruct, adapt, integrate and extend them is particularly prominent. This additionally obliges us professionally, because in their original form they also represent timeless works of great Serbian architects Andre Stevanović and Dragutin Đorđević, when it comes to the SANU palace, and Nikola Nestorović, when it comes to the Hotel Bristol.

How did you get the job of developing the project for the SANU palace? Do you feel honoured? Is there any anxiety?

After successful international pre-qualification and then a qualification contest and tender process created according to UNDP procedures, the job of preparing complete investment and technical documentation, starting with the conceptual design of the reconstruction and extension of the SANU Palace and concluding with the project for executing works, was entrusted to a consortium of domestic companies that comprises BUREAU CUBE PARTNERS and AG INSTITUTE.

Milan Rasković

We are fully aware of the importance of the subject matter and the subsequent associated professional, expert and especially moral responsibility, primarily considering the fact that the palace of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts will be renovated and extended 100 years after its construction, so in addition to the complete reconstruction of facade panels and frames, and the associated elements of decorative Art Nouveau and Neo-Baroque architectural plaster, as parts of both exterior and interior frames, our project encompasses extremely challenging and complex interventions, both in terms of design and construction.

How will the SANU building look after works are completed?

Our three-member author team – which, in addition to my personal participation, was particularly strengthened with the participation of colleague and architect Miodrag Mirković and academic Milan Lojanica, with the comprehensive support of other members of the team from almost all engineering disciplines – successfully completed the first design phase of the process by devising a conceptual architectural solution for the reconstruction and extension of the SANU palace, within which we encountered a rather dysfunctional, devastated and absolutely unusable, formally incomplete and overall devalued atrium/courtyard part of the SANU Palace, which we completely functionally and formally reorganised with a conceptual architectural solution to design a multifunctional hall, primarily a concert hall, an auditorium with a capacity of 350 visitors, with a central two-storey hall/gallery front, as a new lobby of this representative building.

Alongside the new realisation of authentic, originally suppositional and now conceptual architectural solutions for the reaffirmed managing of pedestrian flows, with the lobby designed as the spatially dominant part of the SANU palace, we additionally stressed the intersection of horizontally and vertically directed communication flows within the building itself. In this way, through architectural stratification, in addition to paying homage to Andre Stevanović by reaffirming the originally designed communication motif, we made spatial navigation additionally contemporary, which – through the contact zones of the central lobby – simultaneously achieved, spatially and programmatically, both horizontal and vertical connections with the most important parts of the palace: the Gallery of Fine and Musical Arts of SANU; the Gallery of Science and Technology, and the ground floor, and then the gallery, high ground floor part and newly designed concert halls.

The SANU building will not be extended, nor will its existing dimensions and shape change

However, in order to avoid creating dilemmas about the level of projected interventions, I would particularly like to note that we realised the conceptual architectural solution – in addition to qualitative exploitation, technological, functional and spatial design improvements – within the Gallery of Fine and Musical Arts of SANU and the Gallery of Science and Technology of SANU, both in the context of their presentation and exhibition parts, as well as in the field of the formation of complete spatial contents intended for the collection, selection, valuation, sorting and storing of works, we paid additional special attention to the functional and technical-technological reorganisation and other functional units that are no less important, or more precisely units and sectors of the academy, starting from the Library and Archives of SANU, Ceremonial Halls and Memorial Spaces and Units, the Institute and Department of SANU, Publishing Activities and Cabinet, to the Atelier and the Centre for Art Education.

Milan Rasković
SANU GROUND FLOOR CONCEPT

Completion of the entire investment-technical documentation is planned for March 2021, when the construction permit is also expected. In accordance with that, I presume that works could commence during the course of 2021 and that it will be possible to complete them by 2024, which would enable the opening of the reconstructed facility to occur exactly in the year commemorating the jubilee 100th anniversary of the construction of the SANU palace.

We work a lot, work everywhere and are always mostly occupied with current projects, regardless of all previous successes and achievements

How do you compete with other similar bureaus? You are obviously much better, given that you have plenty of contracted works obtained through the processes and procedures of international tenders (EIB, UNDP, EBRD etc.)?

Our company primarily consists of a team of architects, young and experienced professionals and dedicated creators – professionals who are expertly trained for the processes of designing almost all types and classification categories of buildings of various sizes and purposes, and also for the implementation of development planning processes that manifest through the provision of services in the field of spatial and urban planning, but also for consulting processes in engineering and technical consulting, regardless of whether that relates to an investment in the construction of new facilities or the reconstruction, rehabilitation, conservation, restoration or extension of existing facilities.

With the creating of attractive architectural units, harmonised with the context and their immediate environment, our team of architects strives to simultaneously improve and upgrade design processes and thus render the actual processes of, I would say, design maturing, constant, uninterrupted and timely. This unequivocally shows the achieved adaptation to the nature of the design process itself, and in some areas also the ability for complex and challenging perceptions of real, usable possibilities, which architecture leaves us to evaluate on a daily basis.

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