The immediate context of the project subsumes various historical and contemporary architectural models and urban interventions in the north-west costal region of Belgrade (Serbia). The site in question represents a ‘leftover’ space; a residue of industrial area in a form of a factory built in the 1920s recently planned to be demolished and replaced with mixed-use development.
This project proposes a strategy of urban regeneration and revitalisation within the contemporary context of urban expansion and revival of city coasts. Special attention was given to the small scale architecture, design of micro ambiences and everyday life practices within the housing and urban space.
Three housing rows are designed to be a part of continuous walkways leading to the Danube coast, thus introducing a new line of circulation into the city matrix and moving the public ground on top of the built structure. Unconventional use of city space is interpreted within the housing units as well. The apartments on the ground floor are designed within a grid able to expand and occupy the semi-private ground floor area. Inner space of the apartments is designed to accommodate various, sometimes counteracting activities in respond to new tendencies of merging and intertwining spaces of work and living.
While the apartments on the ground floor level are expanding horizontally, the ones on the first floor level are growing vertically, thus forming ‘duplex’ and ‘triplex’ types of housing units. The project expresses a desire for creating continuous and flexible space without exact boundaries and separations between the private and public, open and enclosed.
Who influences you graphically?
Though I believe that every design requires its own expression, and relays on different graphic representations, all of my projects do share some mutual characteristics. Clear, precise line drawings with hints of colour are the architectural tool I use quite often. Broadly speaking, they are a product of various influences drawn from many, today vastly available, online platforms and blogs (Atlas of places, Socks, RNDRD, The Architectural Review Folio etc.). More directly, these modes of representations are inspired by pioneers of new architectural agenda brought in the 1960s as a response to sterile and uninhabited design representations of heroic modernism. The detailed drawings representing the small scale architecture and everyday life within large urbanist interventions and housing projects by Alison and Peter Smithson are key to understanding and interpreting today’s need for human presence in architectural representations. More recent influence is the practice of Jimenez Lai, whose comprehension of graphic narratives and storytelling through images act as a stronghold for my design process.
What is your take on colour, what defined the choice of a blue and white palette for his project?
Use of two colour palette throughout my work filters superfluous elements that may initially come as a result of design process. This aspect of subsequent abstraction counterintuitively enables each drawing to be interpreted independently of its graphics.
What defined the various drawing through which you choose to reveal and explore the project?
Every project drawing serves a different purpose in order to enhance the visual storytelling I aim to achieve through my design process. The conceptual diagrams represent a point of departure – a more abstract investigation of site, program and project task potentials. The floor plans and sections stand as the most technical part of the project that reveals its mechanical and mathematical character.
More experiential representations are proposed through perspective and axonometric views. Though perspective renders can sometimes be deliberately deceptive and tricky, axonometric views are used as a tool of analysis of everyday life practices from a non-human angle. Altogether, these various representations tend to tell a comprehensive story of the imagined life that inhabits housing units and urban space.
On reflecting on the project as a continuous movement did you ever thing of challenging mediums as maybe film, flip book etc which would have played with this idea?
As previously mentioned, storytelling plays an important role in my design process and representation. With this said, all forms of graphic narrative could be considered to be a part of my designs. Fill books and flip books might have contributed to my project considerably, as the observer could thereby be more engaged in the design process, and experience the space more intimately.
What role do threshold as doors and windows play in the division of the continuous movement inside and outside?
I would argue that the windows and doors represent a mere veil separating the inner and outer space. They are designed, not as obstacles or barriers to trespassers, yet as interfaces between the public and private spaces ready to be breached, changed and dislocated when needed. The shaping of the openings are a result of investigation and reinterpretation of inherited symbols and archetypes contrasting the rational contemporary housing space, thus fragmenting and softening strong lines of this large scale intervention.
What prompted the project?
The shift in dynamics of working and living practices prompts invention of new spatial models – housing models in particular. Through re-composition of the existing models I intended to challenge conventional housing. Project envisions home plan as a template with fixed housing units – elements reduced to enable basic functions within the unit – and horizontally extendable cells – ‘unperformed’ units requiring residents to intervene, thus giving them opportunity to customize the scheme. Finally, the goal was to create an alternative, dynamic housing space, open for small scale changes and reuses, but also contributing to broader cityscape and new trajectories of urban circulation.