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Avala House by TEN is a fully-glazed house supported by slope and triangular column in Belgrade
Serbia Architecture News - Jan 11, 2021 - 11:48 8866 views
Named Avala House, the 156-square-metre house is a private residence situated in a pastural landscape on Avala mountain near Belgrade in Serbia.
A local craftsman, who is the owner of the house and works on interior refurbishments and domestic maintenance, commissioned TEN to design, develop and build the house by using local materials and construction techniques.
"The central premise of the project was to include the future owner in the process of making by specifying only available local material and construction knowledge, with design decisions on durable structures and surfaces to be repaired," said TEN.
"This challenged the norm of architecture being a complete conceptual product, delivered to the site via the client, but instead opened the process as a genuine conversation on the process of construction, the future use and practical and necessary maintenance," added the architects.
"The house is a case study on how design effort can turn sufficiency into a desirable form for living," the studio continued.
Arranged in a simple layout - which basically sits on a square plan measuring 16 by 16 metre square, the architects placed all functions within this plan that offers views from every direction.
The house is a single-story space built over an existing southward inclining orchard garden. It is organised by a 3.2 metre grid frame, measuring 16 by 16 metre square, with an interior cut out of 9.6 by 9.6 metres revealing the terrain below. The surrounding surface forms both the inhabited area of the house and delimits the building perimeter.
The frame utilises 80 millimetre square steel tube profiles welded in place and fixed to the structural minimum of three foundation points on the terrain.
These points define the arrival area on the ground plane, and the positioning of two large concrete forms –like boulders in the landscape – dedicated to both an outside garden staircase and a storage space with a garden bathroom.
The sloping terrain continues between and underneath the house, offering a shaded outdoor living space, and introduces the landscape, trees and natural ground cover into the central space of the building.
The main floor above sets a new datum within the topography of the existing slope overlooking the surrounding forest. The open structure embraces the immediate landscape while setting a new clear geometry and strong architectural outline.
The plan is developed on the outer grid as a sequence of four terraces interlocking at corners to offer a new horizon for dwelling. Each terrace holds a different surface material, providing possibilities for a variety of use.
The boundaries of the steel frame are constantly challenged by these alterations in material (a hanging net, sheet steel, pre-cast concrete, the open frame) or through the performance of its movable elements.
These allow the house to undergo a total transformation of scale and atmosphere. The opaque wall facing the central interior space is made of 10 large pivoting steel doors, allowing the living area to shift from a singular indoor space of 50 square metres to embrace the 156 square metre volumes of the four outdoor terraces.
The large stretch of glass on the southern facade of the frame extends the living space to the rise of the distant hills.
The customised sun shading closes this expanse, giving a singular interior space, discretely partitioned by a series of floor to ceiling full-length curtains defining the sleeping area from the kitchen, dining, sitting, and bathroom.
As the architects highlight, "in its open state, the main living is one in plan, dedicating the entire space to a single program if desired."
"The house inverts the priority of building a traditional protected shelter in nature, by allowing various scenarios of exposure to nature within the building."
Every element of the house emphasises the performance of structure and space, providing either weight or lightness at specific points, expanse or contraction at others.
This is exemplified in the visible joints of the main steel frame, the connections to the bearing points, the exposed bracing and raw material finish. All details are revealed. There is a kind of directness that makes the house accessible to all.
The architects summarized that an effective conversation with the client allowed to identify material resources, workshop skill and capacities within the range of the immediate region.
"It also brought about novel solutions like the in-situ casting of the exposed concrete foundations with recycled steel sheets," the studio explained.
"The accuracy of the formwork was determined by interior joiners, the casting with a self-compacting concrete mixture developed in dialogue with local subsidiaries and contractors."
The architects also emphasized that "This not only contributed to the local economy but through experimentation in the procedure of construction, offered new applications for local construction skills."
"Left exposed, this reveals the proof of labour and skill in the forces driving construction, while the formal expression demonstrates the human factor in the production of dwelling."
"This extends the dialogue originating from the pioneers of Yugoslavian Modernism – a movement instrumental in the transformation of society through the local adaptation of progressive technologies and self-determination in design and construction," they added.
In the same way, the making of Avala House in the form of the ideal contemporary home uses everyday materials, formed personally by the skills of local makers to create a product of regional significance.
Ground floor plan
TEN is a Zurich and Belgrade based architecture studio founded in 2019 by founders and core members of TEN association. The focus of the projects of the studio is based on producing new realities, by means of buildings, urban proposals, algorithmic design, materials research and prototypes with a range of collaborators, institutional partners and private clients.
Name: Avala House
Project Authors: Nemanja Zimonjić MSc ETH Arch, Ognjen Krašna, Jana Kulić, Dr. Miodrag Grbić
Structural design: TEN
Landscape: Ganz Landschaftsarchitekten
Gross floor area: 156m2
Address: Kragujevacki put 82e, 11000 Belgrade
Execution & main contractor: Client
Construction cost: Undisclosed
2019 Start on site
2020 Completion on site
All images © Maxime Delvaux
All drawings © TEN
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