Viktor Frešo’s New Octahedral Body sculpture unveiled on JTRE’s Eurovea City promenade
The JTRE-led Eurovea enlargement is reaching its denouement after four years. The enlarged shopping centre, public spaces, office and residential buildings - including the first Slovak skyscraper - have now been joined by the extended Danube promenade. This landmark was celebrated with the unveiling of the Octahedral Body statue on the waterfront’s square.
Viktor Frešo, a leading contemporary Slovak artist, won the public competition for the visual artwork that was announced by JTRE in spring 2022. Then in June, a five-member jury awarded the first three places from 25 proposals by Slovak and Czech artists, with awards presented at an exhibition of entrees at Warehouse no. 7.
Modern art and design
Standing thirteen-metres high, this abstract figure - based on a self-portrait - comprises 2.2- to 2.65-metre coloured balls on a steel structure. The jury appreciated that its balanced elementary shape, characterized by a distinctive silhouette, legible structure and elementary colour forms, will create an urban-spatial accent in this architectural context. "The jury considered that the proposal would create another strong urban element that would speak the visual language of the 21st century, and contribute to the development of Bratislava’s public space," said Vladimír Beskid – jury member, director of Trnava’s Ján Koniarek Gallery, curator and contemporary art critic. "We sought an artwork that would embrace strong visuals and deliver a general symbolic value," added Zuzana Pacáková - jury member and expert consultant, Biela noc (White Night) festival artistic director. "Something unique happened, atypical for Slovakia, that the developer promoted large-scale contemporary art. I’m very happy that it’s starting to happen here too," said Viktor Frešo. JTRE has traditionally given space for art at its projects – Octahedral Body will complement works such as the Mythical Ship and Bronze Sharks at River Park, and Messerschmidt's Character Heads and Frešo's Circle Head at Zuckermandel.
The new promenade also includes minimalist playful objects by award-winning designer Luca Boscardino, whose Animal Factory project successfully premiered at Milan Design Week 2021. The animals naturally encourage passers-by to open their minds and let their imaginations run wild – both visually and physically through simple interactions: exercising, parkour, children's games, or just sitting. The Danube embankment’s six animals share an aquatic theme: turtle, walrus, octopus, crocodile, pelican, and whale, which will add to the global trend for arty animals in squares and city parks.
New public spaces
Large public spaces comprise a key part of the Eurovea City district, which is the heart of Bratislava’s fast-developing new centre. The concept’s visionary is internationally-renowned architect Professor Beth Galí, who worked alongside the GFI Studio team to fine-tune the new promenade and city boulevard.
"Eurovea is one of Bratislava’s most attractive and highest quality urban spaces - a waterfront promenade with park and squares, which promotes well-being and leisure time. We supported these qualities in the project’s continuation to deliver an inviting public space."
Pavel Pelikán, JTRE’s executive director
The developer, urban planners and architects aimed to create connections with the Danube and a smooth riverside transition. Urban pathways directly in Eurovea Tower’s forecourt became an important compositional element. The architecture was based on tried-and-tested philosophy, and the public spaces were an integral part of the urban concept. "Bratislava deserves to be reunited with the scenic Danube. Eurovea City is a leading Bratislava space where the water’s flow is accentuated, and where locals are encouraged to come," says Katarína Jägrová, GFI Studio architect. Beth Galí sought to create a visually non-invasive and tranquil space, with a harmoniously consistent urban district that has a specific yet intuitively flexible character that encourages open-minded use.
Inspired by the former wharf, shipping cranes, haulage rails, and heavy heritage, Galí repurposed the typical industrial low-alloy steel corten for the streetlamps, flowerpots and water flows – a subtle historical reminder that contributes to the area’s contemporary radiance. “Pribinova boulevard is the central axis that connects the north and south areas – pedestrian-friendly with plenty of greenery, and traffic flow centred to free-up the sides for walking and other activities. Between the two car lanes is a dedicated path for bicycles, scooters and alternative transport," adds Galí.
The riverside’s transformation will be completed by a skate park and cross-country warm-up area on disused land under Apollo Bridge. "In cooperation with Bratislava capital city authority and the Be Cool organization, we look forward to rolling-out the planned 1,800 sqm sports area," adds Ľuboš Kaštan, project manager.
Beth Galí is the visionary behind numerous public spaces (city beach promenade in Barcelona; central spaces in Cork; HafenCity waterfront promenade in Hamburg), with multiple academic degrees in Spain and Europe. In the early 1990s, she was deputy director at the Institute for Urban Development and the Olympic Games (IMPU'92), during which time Barcelona was rebranded to became a world capital of culture and art. Since 1994, she has been a professor at the Technical School of Architecture in Barcelona (ETSAB) in landscape architecture and urban planning. She is also a visiting professor at Harvard University, as well as in Lausanne, Delft and Rotterdam. Internationally awarded, she has led the BB+GG architectural studio since the 1960s.
GFI was founded in 1996 by classmates Pavol Franko and Radoslav Grečmal with the vision to promote the highest standards in city-building projects. The company now has over a hundred construction specialists covering the design, project management, and supervision of full-scope projects that transform public space.
Viktor Frešo is a Slovak conceptual artist, photographer, painter, sculptor, and musician. His artwork and approach are atypical yet seek to reflect the social and cultural situation. He creates concepts and projects where he critically and aggressively expresses contempt for the contemporary art scene with an undertone of lightness and humor. He emphasizes ego and self-irony through his artwork.
Luca Boscardin studied architecture and graphic design at IUAV in Venice. He lives and works in Amsterdam as an illustrator, toy and icon designer for Philips. In 2016, he launched the BLUC toy brand with a collection of rocking animals, which was exhibited at the Vitra design museum and at La Triennale. He has published with Corraini Edizioni Tutti in Fila and Scarti d'Italia. He taught design at Abadir Academy, and collaborates with educational workshops at ISIA and Politecnico di Milano.