I recently read an article about the housing deficit in Nigeria being somewhere around 16 million units with a large percentage required for low to middle income demographics. The write up brought to light the fact that most housing projects aside from being expensive, cater to mostly 3 bedroom typologies. This creates a gap (and opportunity) for housing of a higher density either as stand alone blocks or a combination of the different capacities.
This project in Slovenia by OFIS Architecture, though in a different climatic context does offer a nice alternative to what our typical ‘blocks of flats’ could look like. They’re mostly symmetrical with a dividing staircase smack dab in the middle catering to 4 – 6 flats of the usual 3 bedroom capacity. This project is however, much, much larger than that and offers 4 floors of apartment types ranging from 1 room apartment (35 sqm), 2 room apartment (69.00 sqm), 2.5 room apartment (89.00 sqm), 3- room apartment (103.00 sqm) as well as underground parking.
The project was planned as a social housing scheme sitting on a site of 58 m x 15 m. The orientation of the building is towards a busy highway, hence, the apartment openings, together with balconies were shifted to become 30 degrees window-wings towards the quieter and southern orientated side. Bigger apartments (3 bedroom) are developed on the front facades and have nicer views and a corner orientation. The apartments themselves are made of economic but quality materials such as wooden oak floors, granite tiled bathrooms and have large windows with external metal blinds. The concept of the structure is made in such a way, that floor plans stay flexible, since the only structural walls in the building are used to create the shell of each apartment. All inner walls are non-structural and can be remodelled to the resident’s taste. The inner – structural façade wall has plaster; the external wall that embraces the loggia is glazed or wrapped into precast panel. These panels are wooden and of three colors that are tracing the vertical zigzag pattern. Balcony fences are either a perforated precast panel or transparent metal fence.
The striking ‘blocky’ facade which has been associated with the game Tetris (hence the name Tetris Apartments) was developed by simply tracing the floor plan organization over the elevation.
One must admit that the approach and end result offer a viable alternative to what we’re used to in residential design and could present a new type of ‘block of flat’.