This high density, middle income housing, to be built on a very tight budget, posed two fundamental and enduring problems of mass housing:
How can monotony be avoided or reduced as the result of the need for repetition that enables efficient and economical construction and how can a balance be struck between uniformity and variety, communal decorum and individual expression.
The project site lies on the southwest corner of the intersection of two busy thoroughfares of the city, Ružinovská and Bajkalská and slopes down towards Lake Strkovecke. The brief stipulates a high FAR of 4.5 and calls for the provision of 440 units of apartments with a relatively low construction budget. Our response was to distribute the required numbers of apartments into a family of towers. This family of towers is composed of three towers of varying heights – 29, 19 and 12 storeys – with the shortest tower closest to the lake and the tallest tower placed furthest from it. The towers are clustered together loosely to capture a central open space that serves as an entrance and communal space. The tower is a simple extrusion of a rectangular plan with a 3.3m grid to allow effective subdivision of flats, rooms and opening. The tower avoids any formal complexity or iconic figure but still achieves a memorable massing and silhouette due to its clustering and arrangement of towers at different heights.
Continuing the strategies of V Office, the project utilises the gridded facade as the deep structure to create a thickened and modulated facade out of rooms. Here, loggias of different depth create a semi-outdoor room, laid out on a rhythm of 2:1 bay and undulating inwards and outwards to imply a second surface that is curvaceous in contrast to the orthogonal façade of the tower. The placement of the loggias in this configuration also draws the living rooms long the facade diagonally, thus disabling the direct stacking of living rooms or identical units type one above another. In turn, through the facade, we generated 56 unique apartment layouts (with minimal increase in cost of construction). Thus the deep structure of the gridded facade is utilised to confront the two persistent problems stated above.
The first denies the rampant random facades that typify mass housing of late, where the conspicuous expression of different apartment units on the facade, expressed as singular instances (and as a celebration of individuality) denies any sense of order and coherence and negates the very notion of collective housing. Following on from this, the second response is to provide for a high degree of differentiation in apartment layouts where these differences cohere into a collective whole that is ordered and legible.