Architects: Atelier Thomas Pucher, Bramberger [architects]
Location: Tartu, Estonia
Architect: Atelier Thomas Pucher and Bramberger
Renderings: Martin Mathy
Area: 3500.0 sqm
Project Year: 2008
Photographs: Lukas Schaller, Jaan Sokk
From the architect. The original concept of the building was to combine the advantages of single residential homes with the economical aspects of `apartment living´. Over the last centuries the concept of single residential family houses changed enormously. Different approaches and reinterpretations changed not only the way that people live but also the way they use their own spaces. Atelier Thomas Pucher and Bramberger 's proposal was to combine the advantages of privacy, outdoor gardens, and boundless views that a single residential home offers with the low economic and maintenance costs of an apartment.
The challenging question: Is it possible to combine the two? Atelier Thomas Pucher and Bramberger 's solution was to create `Stacked Villas´ by superimposing Villas or Penthouses on top of each other. This would maintain the major advantages such as wide boundless views, private outdoor spaces and generous living areas on the one hand as well as the economical advantages of less building and maintenance costs which would subsequently have less impact on the environment.
Reacting to the original urban design in the surrounding area, Atelier Thomas Pucher and Bramberger designed two different types of buildings: River Towers and City Slabs.
The concept behind the River Towers is clear and simple: organizing spaces according to their main functions and distributing between two big rings: the service ring and the living area ring. The most inner ring organizes the service functions, were one can find the entrance to the apartments, wardrobes, bathroom, sauna areas and in most cases the kitchen area. All infrastructural elements are located in this area, providing economical advantages by its installation and acting as a noise barrier to the lobby.
The exterior ring is made up of the living areas found in houses, offering enough sunlight exposure and vast landscape views. Since the structural elements are concentrated in the inner ring, the area is more open, offering flexibility with the organization of its spaces. The thin movable walls are simplified to meet the needs of its changeable inhabitants over the years. The exterior ring is surrounded by a continuous balcony and through its irregular shape creates an authentic space that offers each house a completely different private outdoor area. This type of balcony was designed in order to lighten the visual volume of the building and integrate it into the landscape.
The second type of building is included in a more urban context. Located along the existent street, following a north-south axis, the apartments are organized in a cross-stacked scheme. Each apartment is provided with an East-West solar exposure. This organization inspired by Le Corbusier´s Unité d’Habitation, provides generous spaces with beautiful galleries and high-ceiling living rooms. The flexibility of space is also a feature, since high-ceilings offer flexibility for transformation and conversion, depending on the needs of the current occupant.
The exterior spaces comply with the same concept of the River Towers. A wide balcony that surrounds the building creating unique outdoor areas. In the lower levels, the terrain merges with the ground floor, creating a private garden for each house.