KCAP and CITYFÖRSTER win international competition in Bratislava, Slovakia


KCAP, in collaboration with CITYFÖRSTER, won the competition to design a new cultural district for Bratislava. The ambitious project includes a state-of-the-art concert and congress venue which will become a new landmark for the city. The site is located in the Trnavské Mýto district, an important sub-centre in the north eastern part of Bratislava, located on a crossroads of public transport lines, a lively marketplace and residential area. 

The site is expected to undergo a fundamental vital change in the coming years, but its original function as a cultural and social centre will remain the focus of the new development. A new intercity station is planned which will dramatically increase the accessibility of the site making it a strategic location for transit-oriented redevelopment. The former Trade Union House congress centre of the communist regime which currently occupies the site has fallen into disrepair and lacks the facilities and safety standards a modern venue requires. The site is owned by property developer Immocap which initiated the international architectural competition.

“We entered into the project with the ambition to bring to Bratislava a modern, multifunctional cultural and social centre with a capacity significantly larger than the current one, and with this intention we are continuing our preparatory works.  The new Istropolis will be a venue for various multi-genre events, even those that have never been held in Bratislava yet, thanks to the flexible layout and the cutting-edge technical and acoustic equipment. After years of absence, the people of Bratislava will be given a magnificent cultural venue to be proud of,” added Martin Šramko, CEO of Immocap.

KCAP and CITYFÖRSTER were one of seven international architectural teams who were invited to share their visions. Property developer Immocap especially looked for an inventive urban solution with regards to the recovery of the cultural and social function and the revitalisation of public space, whose potential is currently neglected. The competition jury selected team KCAP as the winner. "KCAP is one of the absolute leaders of urbanism and architecture in Europe, but for us their way of thinking about the urban space and the challenges of this important location at Trnavské Mýto was important in particular," says Martin Šramko.

Together with CITYFÖRSTER, KCAP developed a strong urban vision with the new multifunctional venue for concerts and conferences as the heart of the district. The proposal provides valuable public spaces on both the city and neighbourhood level, which can also be programmed for outdoor events. Furthermore, the project establishes new pedestrian connections to stitch the fragmented surrounding districts back together. The car-free public space optimizes the interchange between train, tram and bus, promoting these sustainable modes of transport.

“The competition was challenging not only because of the competition of highly competent studios, but also because of the nature of the area and the many limitations associated with it. Our goal in all our projects is to make cities better places to live.  For Bratislava and the area of Trnavské Mýto this means creating a neighbourhood that combines cultural and social life, quality public spaces for markets and cafés, a pleasant environment that brings a piece of nature to the city centre and a good connection to other parts of Bratislava. All in a balance that is environmentally sustainable and promotes a healthy lifestyle,” explains Jeroen Dirckx, partner at KCAP.

As winner of the competition, KCAP and CITYFÖRSTER received a masterplanning and architectural design commission to elaborate their vision. For KCAP and CITYFÖRSTER this is the first project in Slovakia. “Bratislava breathes with vitality and ambition, which creates an exciting work context for us. It follows the tradition of experimental and visionary architecture alongside historical aspects, which opens up the potential for an interesting dialogue. Together with a client who has an ambition and is willing to change social conventions, we can create architecture and urbanism that can serve as an example of future development of the city and achieve something truly exceptional, “ says Martin Sobota, partner at CITYFÖRSTER.

The project is currently in the second preparatory phase, where the investor, together with KCAP, CITYFÖRSTER and experts from the relevant areas, is working on a more specific form of the site, based on a number of detailed analyses, audits and studies, which examined the cultural and social needs of Bratislava.