Experiment, Mediterranean and classical modern
In 2016 I was entrusted with the task to design a family house for a young married couple with three children. According to the program a dwelling unit with 4-5 rooms and a garage were needed, approximately 170 m2 all together. The architectural “quality indicator” used during the first conversations was the “Mediterranean”. What kind of answer does exist today in Pécs for the request for an atmosphere of a house feeding on Mediterranean?
On the mental map of Hungarian people Pécs is a southern Mediterranean city. Beneath the obvious Roman, Turkish and Bosnian impact there is also a determinate architectural historian connection to the classical modern. Alfréd Forbát, Farkas Molnár and Marcell Breuer came from this city. Moreover, some of them have designed buildings in Pécs. The convoluted formation of the classical modern architecture is linked with the Mediterranean world to several points – think of the Greek and Italian study trips of Le Corbusier, which lead straight to the often white, simple, geometric, cubist forms. His thogths (Five Points Towards a New Acrhitecture in 1926) – columns, roof gardens, free design of the ground plan, ribbon window, free design of the facade – are valid even today, the elevation of the gorund floor may raise more questions. The developments – reinforced concrete, multiple glass panes or new cooling/heating systems allowing large openings – still continues in the present. For the flat roof shocking people in the ages of the classical modern there exist comforting technologies today for the safe construction and its appearance is not an alien any more in our cities. (New energy resources like photovoltaic panels seem practical to place on pitched roofs. However, they do not provide a refreshing view in the townscape. Flat roofs can hide these technoligies the way they are hardly noticed.)
Standing against the declarative, avantgard behaviour of the classical modern this house is an experiment for a reform architecture that is more uncertain and pathfinding opposite to the early confident programs. It approaches the architectural tradition in such a way that it uses statements valid today, but tries to complement the proved deficiencies in the same time. In this case the extreme functionalism of the late classical modern is replaced by a more complex spatial system consisting of elements manifested in Mediterranean patterns like atrium, stairs attached to the side of the house, alley-like foreground, tectonic wooden overhang. These intermediate spaces seem to be unnecessary, however, they are functional needs for completing the small interiors.
The central elements of the house are the dining room inside and the open atrium beyond, both connected to the inner staircase forming a close unit together. The panorama window of the dining room facing to the city is in a view point position because of the sloping terrain. It can be converted into a covered outer space by opening the low sliding window. The living room – like an inclusion – is connected to the other parts of the house through the dining room. Thanks to the 2 meter wide accordion door these two spaces can be used as one or separated from each other – creating the sixth (guest)room.
The atrium is protected against the sun all year because of the southern mass of the house – providing livable outdoor place for a meal even in warm and sunny weather. Its western boarder is an old pine tree (succeeded to preserve), through which the sunset paints a playful light-shadow picture on the white walls. On the north the atrium is divided slightly from the street by a wooden gate – in the alley-like foreground – as a layer, of which transparency and low height let the view of the Mecsek hill forest in.
The size of the atrium is equal to the sum of the area of the inner dining room (16 m2) and living room (14 m2). Without the need for completeness let a few data stand here: parental bedroom: 13m2, three kid rooms: 11m2 each, working room: 8,5 m2 and a storage in the dark basement: 28 m2.
The spatial luxury in this case is not the unreasonably large representative spaces, but involving the environmental landscape to the interiors – for instance with the living room's narrow window facing to the TV tower, or the double winged glass door of the staircase platform exit to the garden – creating visual and phisical connection in the same time. Further element is the bench of the dining room (also functioning as a storage) in the window sill, which is a great place for enjoying the sun in the winter.
As a closing remark it is important to tell that this house could not have been realised without inspiring, open-minded customers and a professional building constructer.