Author: Milena Zindović
Construction: 2019 –2021.
The house is located on a very sloped terrain, on a plot that has a large inclination and is oriented towards the Danube waterfront. On the plot there was an already existing weekend house, on an upper plateau, and an old auxiliary house in bad condition on a lower plateau. Both houses were located on already formed plateaus with small retaining walls as security for the sloped terrain. Only the upper – main – house was used for stays, while the lower – auxiliary – house was used as a storage space.
The main project idea was to reconstruct the main house and build a new contemporary guest house in place of the storage space. It was imperative to prevent that the guest house, with its location and size, blocks the views to the Danube from the plateau of the main house. The first stage of the project was the design and construction of the guest house.
The position of the guest house is the same as the auxiliary storage space for several reasons, but the main one was to avoid any substantial disruption of the existing terrain that has already proven to be stable due to the existing greenery and small size of both houses. During construction works the existing slopes were kept together with their greenery, which affected the new house’s size.
The new guest house was not intended only as a weekend house, but also as a year-round comfortable space, but the program is minimized since it will be later complemented by the reconstruction of the main, slightly larger, house. Minimized program allowed for the house to remain small-scale, the total net surface area being 74m2, distributed on the ground floor and gallery, and keeping the rest of the plateau in front of the house as an outdoor seating area.
The ground floor houses the bathroom, kitchen and dining area, a home office and a double-height living room with a fireplace, a total surface area of the ground floor amounting to 45m2. The double height of the living room allowed for placement of roof windows that bring light to the main living area and keep the interior well-lit despite its northern orientation. The living area opens completely to the outside through a large three-piece sliding door, giving to a decking terrace in front.
The staircase leading to the gallery are hung on the back wall, with thin steel plates cantilevering into the main space. Since the surface area is small, the kitchen cabinets and the heating system are located beneath.
The gallery houses the sleeping area, giving out to a 14m2 terrace overlooking the Danube. Considering the ground floor decking opens to the north and is sheltered with greenery, the upstairs terrace allows a choice of outside seating – in the sun with the view, or in the shade surrounded by greenery.
The house follows the plot’s orientation towards the Danube, and practically all windows are located on the front façade. A new reinforced concrete retaining wall was constructed behind the house, in place of an old stone one, to secure the terrain above. This also created a privacy for the guest house in relation to the main house above.
The guest house’s characteristic form was also designed in relation to the main house, to comply with the request of not blocking the main house’s view to the Danube. Therefore, the upstairs balcony is “cut out” from the roof shape, to keep the house the lowest possible.
The windows have out-of-standard large size, since the desire was to connect the interior to the exterior and river as much as possible, without any barriers. The clients’ special wish to wake up with the view of the Danube was granted by the design of the large horizontal window in the gallery sleeping area.
Architecture-wise, the guest house in designed as a contemporary interpretation of the usual weekend house “naïve” architecture, inspired by the archetype of the house with a sloped roof. The result is a contemporary house which still contains elements of typical houses found in the context of weekend settlements – small houses of simple geometry, with sloped roofs and limited number of windows, built by naïve builders. Archetype was then modified in relation to the form and orientation of the house, which are directly conditioned by the difficult-to-access location. The ridge of the roof is oriented parallel to the shorter side of the house, which is counter-intuitive but allowed better exposure of the interior towards the surroundings.
The idea to keep the house’s form simple, almost reduced to a logo of a house, is additionally emphasized by the monochromatic finish of its facades and the use of large openings. The façade is entirely clad in dark gray brick, with the roof tiles in the same color. The aluminum windows are also dark grey, with only the window sides in teal. The rain gutters and spouts are hidden, so to not break the uniform look of the house. With its small size, compact form and dark color, the house virtually disappears in the landscape of the Danube waterfront, which was the clients’ wish.
Photos: Miloš Martinović