For a 42-unit housing project in Thessaloniki Greece, Bade Stageberg Cox was interested in designing light-filled apartments that didn’t compromise privacy or heat gain. Using a limited palette of regionally available materials, the design focused on abstract qualities of space and light to create silent building forms.
The zoning rules of suburban Thessaloniki limit the size of multiple dwelling unit buildings to a maximum area of 500 square meters separated by a minimum of 5 meters. Arranging the dwelling units in three story tall buildings aligned along the street edges creates cubic architectural forms that simultaneously define the street edge and free up interior space on the site. Each apartment within the three story building is manipulated to have a minimum of three exterior exposures and can be entered on different levels of the sloping site. Each apartment has its own outdoor space.
The resulting cubic forms were selectively carved to allow controlled light and fresh air into the apartment interiors. Using EcoTect to analyze solar gain, corner terraces and openings were designed to provide controlled daylight into each unit while maintaining privacy. Light bounced from adjacent building walls increases the interior light levels without the heat gain from direct sunlight. Shading devices can be operated to control daylight in warmer months. Where possible, units have double height volumes that may be used as thermal chimneys with low windows on the windward side and high windows on the leeward side to naturally ventilate the apartments.
By articulating the openings, the buildings do not have a ‘front’ or ’back’ and visually join in perspective to define the complex of units and interior communal space. Openings to the street, both between the buildings and across the site, are revealed as one moves through the space.
The building shells are constructed of concrete masonry units with cast in place concrete frames and lintels. Cuts in the concrete perimeter wall are sheathed in sustainably forested sawn cedar. Flat roofs are planted.
The landscape design was influenced by Jorge Borges’ story, The Garden of the Forking Paths, considered the first ‘hypertext’. Paved pathways provide access to the entire site while forked pathways of stone and gravel offer shortcuts and access to more private areas of the site. The multiple layers of plantings and pathways provide a landscape that may be ‘read’ in multiple ways.
AWARDS: Domes International Review of Architecture: Best Project Years 2009-2011
PROJECT TEAM: Timothy Bade, Jane Stageberg, Martin Cox, Leonidas Trampoukis, Eleni Petaloti