When it comes to housing, one of the main problems people are facing in most urban areas today, often places of constant growth and raising housing demands, is a need to choose an apartment typology over single-family houses not because of their desire, but out of necessity. Their main concerns can be summed up as following:
- Typically, in people’s minds residential buildings often imply ‘a life in a box’, without living quality, feeling of belonging and identity; a lack of natural light and a view;
- Proximity to the neighbors resulting in the lack of privacy, both visual and acoustic
- The insufficient physical space in various forms for a life of comfort.
In our approach, the idea was to carefully analyze these issues and respond by using them as a base point of transformation into resources, and furthermore into qualities, thus bringing a new vision of a collective housing typology.
Urban context, specific terrain conditions and plot shape gave a possibility for unique approach, with reflection and response to the named issues.
Curved street, very steep topography and three-century-old trees – all conditioned the initial shape. Due to specific context (small-scaled housing units on one side and large-scale apartment block on the other) splitting the main volume into six vertically shifted blocks adjusts the building to its surroundings. The density is preserved, and so is the feeling of belonging, identity, human scale. By splitting and shifting, volumes now allow for the natural light, open the panoramic views towards the landscape and create the visual contact with the sky.
The punctual vertical communication allows for the transversal apartment configuration with three-side orientation. Indoor common space encourages social interactions, and gives a sense of community living while preserving the peace of others.
Our overall aspiration was to ‘marry’ current housing needs and issues with specific site conditions; to design a collective housing building that offers people a sense of belonging, identity and community.
Materials and Structure
The building is made of a massive structure of reinforced concrete, faced with a ventilated facade made of triangular aluminum panels. The thermal insulation of the walls consists of mineral fiber. The openings are filled with three-layered glass in an aluminum frame. The large glass elements are specially coated with anti-UV film to prevent the building from overheating.
An important aspect of the energy concept of the building is the orientation; the large openings appear mainly on the south and eastern facades, whereas the north facade is mostly closed. According to Luxembourgish laws the building is classified as a low-energy building (Class B-B). A centralized ventilation system as well as solar panels for hot water production are also included in order to optimize the energy efficiency of the project.
The used façade materials have been chosen in order to allow for the minimal maintenance.
Image Credit Steve Troes Fotoge