location: Opava, Czech Republic
building type: retirement home
building footprint: 1136 m2
usable floor area: 2995 m2
project phase: competition study
author: BY architects
visualisation: Jan Drška
The lot is located within a loosely built-up prefab housing estate without a defined urban space. The planned development in its neighbourhood suggests a tendency to create a block, which we have decided to support. To follow up the houses in the emerging block means a seemingly simple continuation of their mass. That determines the position and height of the house and its orientation towards the sun.
We have designed a house whose size fills the street front along the full length of the lot, whereby we have created a comprehensible and legible urban environment. The height zoning of the five-storey building formed by a parterre and 4 upper floors enhances intimacy and creates a pleasant environment readable for all. Such atmosphere is then supported to the maximum by the offer of living in the yard where we have created something like an inner street with a common outside area arranged between the single-floor solitaire houses and ground-floor flats in the main building. The inner courtyard makes up a private world which can, however, operatively set the degree of its openness to its wider surroundings. Above all, it is a place of meeting for the residents of the building, with the possibility of attractions such as a water element – a small fountain, garden beds which the residents may care for, or a hard surface for an active use such as petanque etc., an inner courtyard with low houses, gardens, lawns, benches, trees and walkways. A compensation for the missing living streets. The inhabitants of the upper four floors may take an active part in this happening or stay only watching from their balconies and windows.
Concept / house:
The tenements cannot be placed in the north-west street facade facing the Hálkova street due to the insufficient solar access. We have therefore used that part of the building for illuminating the rectilinear stairway and the horizontal communication which is naturally divided by the rising stairway into uneven parts, visually set off on each floor. Such arrangement of the stairway helps orientation. No two floors are identical so we find out quickly and intuitively on which floor we are.
The common (socialising) corridor effuses among the flats and the stairway. There are multiple secluded places for sitting and meeting. The bays in front of the entrances into the flats offer comfortable manipulation upon entering the tenement, the bays around the stairway offer through views to the other floors, and green islands outside the windows.
The project works with a varying level of intimacy and openness. Tenement entrances are located on the four typical floors from the common corridor, the ground-floor tenements are entered from the outside yard or the arcade directly from the street. The flats on the typical floors have large windows and own balconies. Each flat comprises a storage booth accessible from the corridor.
All tenements in the main building are oriented to the yard, which supplies them with sufficient sunlight and enhances mutual visual contact of the residents who may, as a result, enjoy a more lively social contact and a feeling of safety.
With the expected price of CZK 65 million, and with the proposed programme on a total area of 3,000 m2, it is possible to build 1 m2 for CZK 21,700. That requires certain chastity. We have translated it into the speech of simplicity and legibility – of shape, material and construction: the modest shape of the building with communication in the yard, which is a projection of communications on the upper floors; through passages into the yard for easy access of vehicles and communication in the parterre; an easily comprehensible, legible and clearly arranged house with an ambition to be an urban house.
With respect to the expected composition of the residents and for comprehensibility, the materials are selected intentionally as well known, confidential. The tradition of craftsmanship, touch, mass, softness and detail are themes played on this level. The modern morphology of accessory elements and infilling of openings give the building an up-to-date feel. With certain delicacy, the project selects the level of detail expressed in the colours of the inner cladding of balconies, or the colour of joints in the facade cladding as well as in the emphasised heads of the solitaire windows. The elaboration of these themes in the more detailed documentation would lend the building a stable and timeless character.