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Textile shades protect balconies and apartments

Exteriors, Features | May 1, 2008 | By:

A compact cluster of low-cost apartments soaks up sun and sea on the Mediterranean.

Slovenia has a southern coast on the Adriatic Sea that neatly tucks in between Italy and Hrvatska east of Italy. Although it faces northwest and therefore doesn’t quite get the intensity of sun that a Valencia, say, or Monte Carlo might, Slovenia’s coast is on a branch of the Mediterranean (specifically the Gulf of Trieste) and shares its climate. Izola is one coastal town that favors the atmosphere, and a recent development takes advantage of all the climatic conditions. Designed by the young architectural firm Ofis arhitekti out of Solvenia’s capital Ljubljana, the Izola apartments shown here are set on a hill with a view of Izola Bay on one side and the surrounding coastal hills on the other. Thirty small apartments of different sizes—varying from studio flats to three-bedroom units—provide low-cost housing for young families. The winning entry for a government-run housing competition supported by the Slovenia Housing Fund, Izola apartments are small even by Slovenian standards. However, Ofis principals Rok Oman and Špela Videnik designed the units so that no structural elements intrude on the interiors and have provided each with a veranda that is intimate, partly connected with its interior, and naturally ventilated.

Ofis’s original proposal won for economic, rational and functional reasons, but its design genius is in the ratio between gross vs. saleable surface area and flexible plans. The government contract stipulated that the building cost no more than 600€ per m2 of net surface area.

Textile shades protect the balconies and apartments from prying eyes, yet with semi-transparent fabric, owners enjoy full views of the bay. Perforated side panels permit cross breezes in summer, and vibrant colors from the fabric shades create different atmospheres within each apartment. The small rooms are visually bigger than one might think because the fabric shades create a perspective effect that connects interior with exterior. —BNW

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