New Belgrade is an outstanding example of a socialist city extension built according to modernist principles. However, it also shares some of the typical challenges such as a lack of recognition of its cultural value, lack of maintenance of both housing and public spaces, illegal constructions and ineffective participatory processes. These challenges translate into particular threads for the case of New Belgrade that have been identified as:
- Vast open spaces in combination with existing infrastructure foster an urban densification process, which can have several negative impacts. The infrastructure may become overloaded, too high density might cause ecological damage, gentrification might take place and a loss of green spaces may weaken the livability and the resilience towards climate change. On the other hand, infrastructure and open spaces seem to still have some reserves left, so that controlled densifications seems reasonable to avoid the construction of new city districts on the greenfield causing even more ecological damage.
- The invasion by the current investor-driven building projects without respect to the built context structures may weaken or even destroy the historical ensembles. On the other hand, the lack of private investment can increase the lack of maintenance to both buildings and public spaces finally leading to degradation.
- The uncontrolled sprawl of floating houses along the riverfront is a cause of pollution and damage to the river's ecosystem. It privatizes the riverfront and makes it inaccessible for the inhabitants. The flood protection and water supply can collapse due to several activities connected to the floating houses.
It becomes obvious that New Belgrade - and with it Block 45 - is subject to some conflicting issues and interests. To understand these in more detail will become the basis to formulate the task for future urban planning strategies dealing with the area: To preserve the unique heritage of the area while offering space for a controlled densification and a sustainable development and renewal of existing built and natural structures. The student project proposals offer first ideas for future transformation and can be seen as catalysts for this process to take place. They share an emphasis on the empowerment of local communities instead of top-down spatial interventions. This process-oriented design includes ideas of how to build organizational capacities enabling governance transition towards more participatory and collaborative sustainable urban transformations. Unblocking Block 45 in the end will mean to lead to active, vibrant and resilient self-governed communities.