Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has shared its design for an all-electric “tech neighborhood” on the forested edge of Bratislava, Slovakia, that, when completed, will serve as the new home base for Slovak internet security company ESET.
BIG won the commission for the project in 2019 via international competition and is joined by a larger design team comprised of Arup and BuroHappold along with local architecture studios Inflow and Pantograph. The roughly 969,000-square-foot tech campus, described by BIG in a press announcement as a “creative, green, collaborative hub where bold cybersecurity solutions come to life,” will rise on the site of a former military hospital just outside of the center of the capital city at the base of the Little Carpathian mountain range.
ESET’s global headquarters are currently located within Aupark Tower, a modern office high-rise in Bratislava’s Petržalka district that, at 22 stories, ranks as one of the tallest buildings in the prosperous and largely low-slung city straddling the Danube. When completed, the new ESET campus will be able to accommodate 1,500 employees with the potential to scale up to 2,400.
Echoing the nearby mountains, the design for the campus is a distinctly acclivous one comprised of a dozen buildings of different sizes and topped with undulating, solar array-clad roofs that will tilt upwards to form an “architectural mountain,” per BIG. Eight smaller buildings dedicated to public-facing activities including retail and cultural space will encircle a quartet of larger buildings at the heart of the campus collectively comprising the “higher peak” of the man-made massif. These four buildings, each featuring skylit central atriums and organized around a large central courtyard, will house ESET’s new headquarters.
“The overall massing of the campus has multiple frontages; the open corners of the four ESET HQ blocks, in combination with views into each building from the surrounding streets, create inviting moments that further connect the exterior with the interior,” elaborated BIG. Plans also call for a conference hall and 20 co-living units.
As mentioned, the assemblage of buildings, including both the larger ESET office blocks and the smaller buildings on the periphery of the compound, will be topped with solar arrays that enable the carbon neutral-aspiring campus to be powered entirely by electricity. Meanwhile, the buildings will employ a range of energy-saving features including high-performance glass and timber facades, balconies that allow for natural ventilation, and more.
“The ESET campus will set a new benchmark for sustainability,” elaborated Andreas Klok Pedersen of BIG, who is serving as partner-in-charge of the project alongside founder and creative director Bjarke Ingels. “The design goal is an entirely electric building, with the vast solar roof and ground source heat pumps creating a significant amount of renewable energy. The use of timber throughout the project ensures [the] lowest possible carbon footprint.”
The northwest side of the campus will open into a sprawling forested park that will fuse the Carpathians with the city and be populated with dedicated spaces for “recreation, interaction, and relaxation while boosting local biodiversity and creating pockets suitable for outdoor working.”
“Rather than a single hermetic entity, we have dissolved the ESET Campus into an urban village of interconnected buildings, framing public paths and urban squares,” elaborated Ingels. “The diverse cluster of individual pavilions are unified by the undulating solar roofs–forming a single silhouette rising from the forested park like a man-made addition to the Little Carpathians mountain range. Together with the adjacent University, the ESET Campus is set to spark the formation of Bratislava’s new innovation district.”
A groundbreaking for the campus is slated for 2024 with an anticipated opening date in 2027.