MITarh Architecture Studio shared with us their proposal in the Competition for a preliminary architectural and urban design for a housing complex in New Belgrade, Serbia. Before the process of defining the architectural concept and some usual analysis of urban parameters, their team debated about a given specific environment. Awareness of character of ’certain place’, as a fine sample of New Belgrade – intact, as it looked in 1948, made enthusiasm and opportunity to find their own interpretation of a model ’housing complex’. More images and architects’ description after the break.
Burdened with the previous opinions of architects, urban planners and critics of New Belgrade, as an example of a functional urbanism, authors attempted to treat the specific situation in the continuity and in relation: man – house – activities. Unambiguously, our aim was to avoid a treatment of a city, and a house, as its unit of measure like an object, that only can be multiplied. As Soe (Francoise Choay) wrote, ’the city must be perceived as a process…’. Actually, this attitude toward the city, and therefore its customers, made the main direction in defining a set of housing units.
It was experienced not only as a house – in the block – in the ’superdefined’ network of the city. From the very beginning, it must be more than that. It should be: architecture, poeple, events, needs, habits, biorhytms, ambiences, character. It cannot be ’non-place’, where poeple are only passers-by, and people who are not emotionally attached.
The initial idea was to create a place where its users could be clearly identified with it; not in a term of rigid structure, predefined, to whom they will be adjust, but one that will be created and modified to their needs and use patterns. Just such a continuous and reversible process is a presumption for creating a pleasant ambiance.
During defining the urban concept, there wasn’t intention to make an excess in space. According to the author’s opinion, in that case – it seemed pretentious, given the consistency of the matrix of New Belgrade. The idea was to fit in it, but with a different interpretation of the use and behavior. Hence arises the concept with pure-form houses and public-intimate spaces between them, within the set limits.
Urban concept is largely derived from the given requirements, and those – from the obvious need for maximum utilization of space. All this at the time, in a different way sensitive as the 40′s were, but heavily weighted in the socio-political circumstances and demands of this moment. On the one hand, there is a need for the rational utilization of space, but on the other – expectations to ensure the ecological and human environments.
The urban setting is born out of a given capacity of living space, the parameters relating to occupancy, required number of floors, dimensions and mutual distances between the lamellas. Beside these default parameters, imperative for the author’s team was to design ambients – well organized and sized, comfortable, well ventilated, with good vistas, public spaces at the level of the block with the theme, designed and flexible – adaptable to the needs of future users
The expected number of potential users and units, suggested to plan apartments on the both sides of the hall. The generation of the so-called green transversal or rather ‘the spine of internal events’ in the form of communication comfortably sized (up to 6m wide) with green, covered galleries, links, and local gathering places, establish ‘different character’. This concept, primarily improves the quality of apartments, namely their orientation. Active green space offers the ‘other side’, not the one that survives in the standard “double-sided building. This practically, offers two-sided orientation for two-bedroom apartments, and therefore better organization and more quality ambiances. Accordingly, communication is not just reduced to six, strategically placed vertical communication, but also at all those levels of spatial structure.
Terms of the competition task led to the conclusion that the boundaries of the parcel predict in the future about three thousand residents, which implies users of different structures, and therefore different modes of using space. The articulation of volumes along the main Dr. Ivana Ribara Street , in a sense, is a homage to ’newbelgrade’s fine order’ The form is rigid, geometrically reduced, with the precisely lines and divisions on the facade and openings. In that way, it corresponds with the environment. On the other side, from the courtyard, it has a completely different character. Like a some kind of a mantle, it gathers other objects in fine order; its different articulation, together with them creates a new environment. Because of that, it can be considered as a ’house with two faces.’
This new expression is particularly experienced in the groundfloor, the most exposed to users of different structures. In the middle of blocks, the ground floor apartments are designed with gardens terraces. It can be interpreted as compensation for living at the ’less desirable elevation’, but in fact contributes to a higher quality of life; especially at the area of New Belgrade, which is in the opinion of many poeple notorious, because of the lack of greenary and intimate ambiances and its impression of dehumanization.
A strong and rigid street front that wraps the interior of the block is perforated at certain areas. This indicates communication with the outside enviroment and a clear position to avoid hermetic structure, introverted and inactive for the surrounding. Commercial activities on the ground floor in the main lamella contribute to the Impression of extroversion (to the extent that was considered appropriate). It makes the whole space become more public and indirectly highlights the ambiance inside the block. Partial centers on the floors in the area of communication and intimate green ambiencas in the ground floor.
In that way, it is possible to achieve a grading of structures according to the public levels. A strong external structure is exposed to the city, smoothed by the lamellas in the background. At the same time, different materials which also become softer towards the interior, contribute to this impression.
Spaces, atriums between the volumes, are airy, white, with some color accents, and in that way, space exudes openness. They must not be transient, on the contrary, and must keep users to use and live in them actively. At the same time, they represent a pleasant atmosphere inside the housing.
Thus, it is possible to define three levels of public: floor by floor, partial centers, and an active ground floor at a level of 1.20m and green public space which leaves the ground floor of bordered parcel, and provides for active recreational space. Special attention is given to views from the inner lamella. Spatial checks allow to obtain the results, that the largest number of apartments in the center of the block have a visual contact with the wider environment.
Also, the priority is to provide flexibility of functions in the ground floor. Namely, it is important to bear in mind the potentially different needs of residents and their visitors. Therefore, team analyzed the ways in which the “internal public space” can be used and therefore formally adjusted.
The requirements of investors caused the selection of the construction and materialization. Awareness of importance to rationalize costs, resulted in a decision to design typical appartments, up to unification in a sense. At the same time,there is a flexible space – that provide reorganization of living space in the future.This would be the motivation for the future families with a tendency of enlargement – to perceive their own living-space not as temporary and necessary solution, but as a testing polygon for new opportunities. This clearly increases the utility value of the entire unit.