Apartment building in Ostrava, Czech Republic | Жилое здание в Остраве, Чехия

Competition, 2018

The new building form plays a key role in 'mediating' between the existing smaller, and more expressive facades, along Rijina and Kostelni Streets and the more 'foursquare' contemporary buildings to Biskupska Street. The site had remained fallow for a long period time due to a large access portal to the city water and services infrastructure network and this project seeks to resolve the competing needs and activities. The massing of the folded and sculptural primary facade 'unwinds' in scale and becomes more relaxed to the East and, in doing so, invites the neighbours into an ensemble composition. Furthermore each corner is 'held' by a tower-like element that unites city block in a confident and engaging way without bombast. Wherever possible public and commercial activities open onto the street with the main residential and commercial entrances flanking a generous passage to an intimate and semi-public landscape courtyard.

The expressive massing means that each apartment benefits from an oblique view along the street and furthermore the resulting shallow plan depth means the living spaces are flooded with natural light from the large full height opening windows. The larger opening to the lower floors allow appropriately scaled shop windows and office windows to address the street and accommodate larger scale openings to the city infrastructure and carpark/service entrance as part of the composition. A series of small, yet verdant, roof gardens of perennials and shrubs nestle between the folds in the massing and can be enjoyed by residents and the wider public.

View of the Biskupska Street elevation showing the open nature of the building and the materiality of the facade

Elevations of the new building in historic context of Ostrava

In parallel to the positive and generous gestures in the building massing we have prioritised the quality of the apartment plans and the level of daylight; wherever possible all inhabited rooms are dual aspect. This is particularly important where the site constraints limit the floor to ceiling height to 2.5m. Three stair and lift cores serve the building, two of which are connected to the landscape courtyard that contains internal and external amenity spaces. All staircases pass though the commercial spaces and give means of egress only in the event of a fire: a dedicated accommodation stair is located within the commercial entrance. The staircases and communal lobbies to the apartments are glazed and mean that all ‘front doors have a direct relationship to the trees and courtyard beyond.

Around a central living space, benefitting from views to both the street and courtyard, the other living spaces for each apartment are organised. Towards the street a generous, kitchen and dining space, not quite a separate room although a screen can be added, enjoys views along the street. To the rear a good size bedroom looks out to the trees in the courtyard. The apartments are entered from by a small lobby with cloakroom and toilet. The paired and generous bathrooms, a key element in creating lifetime standard accommodation, is located in the centre of plan, sharing the communications riser with the kitchen. On each floor three single aspect studio apartments take benefit from extended length of facade and shallow plan to ensure no loss in quality compared to the larger apartments. The residential plan with a central spine of servant spaces means that there is significant potential to change the apartment type ‘mix’ without any loss in quality.

Ground, first and typical floor plans

View of a typical apartment showing the generous daylit kitchen and living spaces

View of the main entrance and commercial spaces

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