Text description provided by the architects. Sotočje housing complex is located in a 19th century industrial area on the confluence of rivers Sava and Kokra in Kranj, a city approximately 15km from Ljubljana. Degraded industrial grounds are, due to its vicinity to historical centre and attractive natural position, slowly developing into a quality habitation area of the city.
The settlement, comprising 142 housing units, sits on a raised platform just next to the river confluence, right below the former medieval city located on the hill. Formerly a rubber factory, the area was heavily polluted, requiring a radical ground-cleaning process before building could commence – therefore the raised platform is not only a garage, but also a sound environmental solution.
The three buildings are positioned on the platform, with their intermediate areas opening towards the river on the western side. The seemingly random positioning of the blocks is in fact an attempt to open up the views from all apartments towards the river, as well as to offer them all simultaneous glimpses of the medieval city on the other side.
The complex is built as part of state programme of housing, providing apartments for young start-up families in a private-public partnership-funded scheme.
All apartments, while mostly modest in size and very simple in layout, have continous balconies surrounding them, enveloping the entire building. The external skin of the building, made in perforated aluminium panels, covers the entire building, creating an effect of a 'deep facade', where the exterior life of the units 'happens' between the two layers of elevation – a 'thermal' and a 'visual' one.
The panels are perforated in a simple pattern, resembling patterns of wooden constructions of historical buildings in the area, allowing for air circulation and sun to penetrate deep into the buildings. Another layer, that of continous curtain, is positioned right behind the aluminium panelling, allowing for complete privacy of balconies to be established, adding a theatrical element to the whole.
The tridimensional game of transparency, translucency, inclusion and seclusion is created, one that allows views from all units towards the neighbourhood and quality surrounding areas, while also providing for maximum privacy to be established if needed.
The flat roofs of the buildings, covered in white river stones, create an effect of dry river beds when observed from the old city hovering above.