Tamás Perényi, Tamás Niczki, Zsófia Dankó, Boglárka Szentirmai (2013)
Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Department of Residential Buildings
Table of Contents
Containing 12 lines of buildings, this social housing estate was built right after the war in Poggioreale, a suburb of Naples, on a site owned by the client, the Social Housing Institute. The stairwells of the tiered buildings are accessible from the terraced street at the height of the first level. The varied designs of the ground floors are the results of both necessity and the demand for rooms with different functions (portico, concierge service and apartments for larger families). The new buildings had to be follow-ups, using the foundations and the ground floors completed in the 1940s with housing levels different from those of the buildings designed earlier. Each block contains 25 apartments each with 2, 3 or 4 rooms. From an architectural aspect, the residential complex is an integral one of good standards. The facade is rhythmically articulated by enclosed ribbon windows at various parapet heights and visually concluded by the expressively designed terraces on the top floor.
Turning towards the main street with a mass cut in two parts down the middle by a narrow vertical cleft, the building contains 2 large apartments on each general floor. Above the ground floor, the two blocks, clad in rustic and smooth travertine, are retracted in every direction, so the housing levels seem to float above. The lightweight appearance of the upper storeys is enhanced by the materials used (the facade is enveloped in white glass mosaic) and the wrap-around ribbon windows. The designs of the lateral balconies, the efficient positioning of the stairwell, combined with refined claddings and finishes and other precisely executed details – all contribute to the highly expressive character of the building divided in two parts.
This free-standing, twin pair of 26-storey towers actually reinterpreted urban housing projects with their combination of glass and steel and the expression of skeletal frames on the facade. Placed at right angles to each other, the two buildings face Lake Michigan and the inner city. Logically designed, the steel skeleton of the towers offers a perfect solution to both the plan system and facade design. Carefully selected for the structural pillars, the window profile creates the beautiful texture of the steel-and-glass skin. The two high-rises have identical outer structures and geometries, but different interior designs. What they have in common is the lift and the stairwell designed as their inner core. The northern block contains 8 two-room apartments per level, while the southern one features 4 four-room units.
Of the buildings referred to as Unité d’Habitation (“collective house”, literally meaning “housing unit”), five were completed between 1947 and 1960. The most famous of them is this residential building in Marseille. Like a city built vertically, it is 165 m long, 56 m tall and 24 m wide and contains 337 apartments of various sizes. Unite d'Habitation has a characteristic facade design, being a concrete-coffered high-rise structure raised on 17 pairs of R-C pilotis. Le Corbusier adjusted the sizes of the duplex dwelling units to Modulor, an anthropometric scale of proportions he devised himself, his motto being that “the house is a machine for living in" basically meant to offer residents all the modern conveniences. The circulation system of corridors only penetrates in between the prevailing duplex units on every third level. The 7th and 8th floors house communal spaces (shopping, entertainment and amenities). The architect designed the roof to contain a look-out point, an open-air theatre stage, a gym hall, as well as a nursery-plus-kindergarten. Residents, however, felt the apartments too tight. The internal streets of shops on the 7th and 8th floors did not work out quite well, and children living here preferred to play in the parks outdoors. Although the collective house in Marseille failed to live up to expectations, it has evolved into a ground-breaking, definitive design of multiple-family housing.
The architectural philosophy represented by Asnago and Vender is reflected in this building on Via Faruffini in a most authentic way. Their design method refers to a process of abstraction, resulting in the formal clarity of strict rationalism. The multi-layered character of the architectural devices applied deliberately on the street facade, the playfulness of alternating solid and open surfaces, and the rhythmic layout of apertures – all contribute to a versatile and yet integral design. A unique formal constituent, the metal grid fixed outside the third and fourth storeys, is a purely artistic detail lacking function. The building is not a homogeneous one; its irregularities reflect the designers’ ambition to make it an expressive, “passionate” work of architecture. The bottom level of the corner building houses public space containing offices. On each floor, three larger dwelling units, both corner and transitional types, join the vertical circulation core at the focus of the mixed-use building.
Following the classical configuration, this high-rise building was built near the waterfront in Barcelona. The bottom two levels contain shops that are open via glass surfaces, while each of the upper six floors houses an apartment. The attic holds two studios and a terrace. Unique features of the house are the floor plans and the facade design. The interiors of the dwelling units are defined by an intricate system of walls breaking the planes at oblique angles to create exciting apetures, practical foyers and the impression of spaciousness. Open on three sides, the building features a facade reflecting the interior design with solid surfaces and the undulating dynamics of adjustable wooden louvers. Because of its materials and forms, Casa de la Marina is a fine example reinterpreting the traditions of the Mediterranean by blending them with a Modernist vocabulary of forms.
This building boasts an integral and characteristic streetscape, although relevant construction regulations only allowed for a 5-metre-wide front garden. The rhythm of alternating open and closed balconies contributes to the unique overall impression of the facade design. Besides the playfulness reflected in forms, the facades and the palette are key factors in the architecture. Wall surfaces feature chrome yellow ceramic mosaics, the cornices are wrapped in grey marble, and the plinth features a plain matte marble ceramic mosaic. As a distinguishing feature of Italian Neo-Realist architecture, the kitchen and the dining room were integrated to allow the living room to function as an independent space. However, Perogalli designed this building with a reduced-size (3.2 m²) kitchen without a dining room. The latter function is contained as part of the living area.
This multi-use high-rise contains the offices of H. C. Price and other companies as primary tenants, as well as apartments on its 19 storeys intended as income-raising ventures. The scheme is yet another one by Wright that reflects his organic approach. The structural design incorporates the tree-motif with its centrally positioned core representing the trunk, while the cantilevered floors projecting out from it are like the branches. The outer skin of the tower is made up of curtain walls hung from the floors to lend the facade its distinctly light appearance. The structural cores containing the four elevator shafts and the interior walls perpendicular to each other divide the levels into four segments – three of which are suited to house offices, while the fourth was to house a duplex apartment. Nowadays, the mixed-use building functions as an art centre and also contains luxury dwellings, which are as highly regarded as one-of-a-kind.
Gio Ponti is known as a master of both architecture and design. When working on this project, generous spatial connections were the first on his priority list. The nine-level structure at 49 Via Dezza contains Ponti’s own apartment and studio, too. Ponti’s careful attention to details when dressing his spaces, designing the interiors according to an integral concept, certainly shows in the furnishing and the accessories equipped with concealed lighting fixtures, the elm-wood wall panelling, the diagonal ceramic floor-tiling, and the white ceiling that is in harmony with all the elements. His unique and innovative solutions are the high-standard design of walls pierced by apertures to create borders between interior and exterior. To open up the facade towards Via Dezza, he used generously-sized windows in a versatile layout to enhance the exterior with refined playfulness.
Located on Harumi, an artificial island in Tokyo Bay, this grand-scale building along a north-east and south-west axis contains apartments which were popular with the affluent upper middle-class then. The easy access and proximity of the amenities and services it offered made the dwelling units even more attractive. Massive steel and R-C structures were justified by the need to resist earthquakes and exposure to climatic extremes. Floor plans drew inspiration from the modern architecture of Le Corbusier’s Unité d'Habitation in Marseille. Single-level and duplex apartments are contained along the full length of the building with access only on every third level from the circulation corridor. The smaller units, which face southeast, are housed on the circulation level, while transitional apartments that occupy the full depth of the building are accessible from the same level via small staircases either downward or upward.
Torre Velasca, a 106-metre (26-storey) skyscraper, towers above the Gothic buildings of the old city core. To respond to the historic fabric of Milan, designers borrowed the forms of medieval guard towers. As a result, the lower part of the building is narrower, while the upper cantilevered section extends out. This design was also justified by mixed functional demands. The lower, narrower levels contain offices, businesses and exhibition spaces, while the upper (wider and more spacious) ones house apartments. The positioning of the slender building stem in the middle of the site allowed for a large, open-space pedestrian plaza around it. Adjustment of the development to the historic context is enhanced by the stone-cladding of the facade. The exterior mass features versatile textures defined by the play of apertures that pierce the walls alternating with transparent and reflexive surfaces.
Bakema’s scheme for this high-rise, high-density housing project was realised as part of the international building exhibition, IBA (Interbau), in 1957. The 16-storey local-acess tower has a split-level design creating a complicated fabric of single- and two-level apartments. Housed on two different levels, the 6-metre-wide duplex units face west and east along an internal stairwell. The entrance level gives access to the kitchen and the spacious living-room, while the next floor contains the bedroom, bathroom and study. The spatial system thus created allowed for only six internal circulation corridors and mainly transitional apartments, which optimizes ventillation and light conditions. The loggias along the facade feature a clear and logical system that is a projection of the playful floor plan of the building.
When commissioned for this project, Goldberg had to design the complex so as to stop the urban exodus (a suburbanisation tendency) affecting Chicago. Thus, the scheme is a response to this issue of city planning and treats residential- and commercial-use zones as closely integrated, functioning as a lively independent “city within a city” all day long. Besides offering 360° panoramic views, the round, reninforced concrete towers house an internal circulation core which creates a secure structure, resisting even strong gales. The bottom third of each buildings contains an 18-level parking garage with a continuous, helical ramp. The upper two-thirds of the structures feature 450 flats ech, in a combination of studios,as well as one- and two-room residences, thus totalling 900 apartments.
Ernő Goldfinger was a prominent figure of post-war British architecture. In the 1940s, the government launched a reconstruction program to replace the loss of approx. 4 million demolished homes. High-rise construction was a priority, and Goldfinger was a genuine specialist in this field. Widely known, his 27-storey Balfron Tower and 31-storey Trellick Tower are rated now as protected buildings representing English Brutalist architecture. Housing small tenement dwellings, Trellick Tower was both dangerous and discredited in the 1970s. Since then, it has evolved into an iconic landmark. Balfron Tower, the smaller constituent of this tower composition, is connected on each level to a narrow service high-rise that houses the elevator and ancillary services.
An experimental project, Habitat ’67 was realised for Expo '67, the world exhibition in Montreal. The architect strove to design affordable apartments and thus opted for prefab technology. Designed in a stacked, modular system, the dwelling units (sized 11.7 × 5.3 × 3 metres) are connected in a loose, seemingly random pattern. Careful designing created three pyramid-shape structures with a self-contained lift core. The top floors are connected via open circulation and access bridges. The kitchens and bathrooms of the 15 various apartment types are prefab constituents. The dwellings are two-, three- and four-room units, the majority of them duplexes with roof gardens. Although the project has been criticised for bad cost-efficiency, its ideological-conceptual background is exemplary by all means.
Designed by the Smithsons, a married couple, this council housing complex built in Poplar, an East-London residential district, is made up of two new Brutalist-style buildings. Embracing the extensive garden, the buildings stretch north-south along the site bordered by main roads on three sides. To optimise light condition, one is 10-story, while the other is 7-storey. The longish facade turns towards the city with a wide circulation corridor that could function as an inner street and thus a meeting point and recreation area in line with the designers’ intention. The flats themselves are a mixture of single-level apartments and duplex maisonettes in both buildings. At entry level, the apartments feature the kitchen and dining area; the bedrooms and the living area are accessible either up or down the stairs.
Kisho Kurokawa is a prominent architect of Metabolism, which is the most prestigious Japanese movement of Modernist architecture in Japan. According to the Metabolist vision, a city is a system of buildings made up of interconnecting, mobile and flexible constituents. As Kurokawa argues, architecture must spur the evolution of the individual with its spaces and means. The Nakagin Capsule Tower is an exemplary design of capsule architecture, a kind of modular construction. Owing to its high-tech equipment, the capsule is a kind of minimal space with the potential to guarantee the individual’s every essential condition. The owners can have their private modular units assembled to their liking before they are plugged into the central core, which is shared with the other occupants. The towerhouse was constructed by integrating 144 pods or capsules (temporary, residential or studio) that are manufactured off-site and then fixed one by one to two vertical R-C cores. The cantilevered hanging capsules of the service-circulation skeleton can be replaced and rearranged.
A characteristic condominium with unique tones, Olgiati’s architecture features a wall surrounding the interior like a skin, combined with a body of sculptural forms. Blending traditional and modern architecture, the architect created his own individual visual vocabulary of forms. His façades have generous openings as entrances, as well as loggias, small windows and recesses to accentuate the exterior shell design. A free-standing fire space and designed cooking area intensify the three-dimensionality within the interiors. Its complex forms lend the building a characteristic appearance. As an exciting solution, the transversal roofing of this multi-apartment building evokes the character typical of detached houses. Highly efficient space utilisation reduced construction costs, which are surprisingly low, just like in Olgiati’s other projects.
Much like a monumental fortification, Bofill’s building towers above a suburb of Barcelona. It is indeed a development that deviates from the traditions of the housing project genre as such. The basic idea was a vertical maze system, allowing occupants to open or close circulation between the apartments and communal spaces on demand. Made up of 18 towers, the building mass contains 446 residences in total. The towers are gradually stepped to lean and bend together creating the 7 interconnected interior courtyards, suited to function as the venue of a variety of activities ranging from playing games and sports to screening films in public. With a few exceptions, dwellings face both outwards and into one of the internal courtyards. Their floor-plan is based on 30 m² modules creating single-level studios or duplexes, the size of which range from 1 to 4 modules respectively.
This building is part of the high-density development fabric of Sevilla. Local regulations strove to reduce housing density in the inner city, which in this case meant that 25 % of the site had to be left undeveloped. Designers positioned this zone in the focus, and thus opted for an irregular curved internal courtyard inspired by the Mediterranean patio layout. The building contains 12 apartments altogether (three dwellings per level) with approx. 100 m² of floor space. The flats completely occupy the space between the patio and the adjacent buildings and are open towards the street, the courtyard and two air-shafts. Responding to local climatic conditions, the roof-level patio is shaded to protect against overheating in summer.
When rebuilding Haus Tschaler, Olgiati responded to the sensitive faculties of the existing building. The sculptural body is manifest in both the exterior and interior of the house. The architect created dynamism and refined tension inside by relying upon an optical play of lights and carefully designed façade openings. His solutions of interior remodelling and spatial organisation are exemplary; the inner space and outer forms are kept in harmonious equilibrium. Through the proportions and order of apertures, as well as the articulation of the façades, the building creates its own unique paradigm appropriate for the existing architecture. The face-lifted house is a characteristic blend of historic and traditional components with modern motifs.
Containing 114 apartments, this complex designed by Jean Nouvel offered novelty in multiple ways, as opposed to traditional social housing projects. His innovative approach is manifest in both spatial formation and materials. The two apartment blocks house 17 different variations of single-level flats, duplexes and triplexes. His design priority was to contain spacious and light interiors, while keeping to a cost-efficient budget. By using a simple structural skeleton (R-C frame) combined with prefab technology, he minimized construction costs, which in turn allowed for larger dwellings. Free-standing stairs and transparent surfaces allow for transparent apartment interiors, while the terrace with folding doors on the southern façade exposes the living spaces to intense daylight.