North star is not only the brightest star on the northern hemisphere traditionally used for high seas navigation. It is also newest residential project from young Slovak architectural studio Nice Architects. The idea was to bring light into surrounding locality and create an iconic, easy to remember and original building, pure with the volume as an opposite to the patchy and chaotic surrounding development.
It is located in the centre of Senec, well known Slovak summer hub. City with patchy streets and pleasant holiday atmosphere. Lies in the vicinity of the main square opposite the school garden and the local astronomical observatory. Proximity of the observatory and exact south-north orientation of the main facade gave the inspiration for its name. Site is in the quiet street but just stone throw from the hustle of the central square.
Building is positioned on the triangular site within the mixed block of the residential houses and public functions. With its 4 stories height and 250 sqm footprint, it is naturally blending to the local environment. Public functions like a small shops and café on the street level are strengthening connection to the main square.
Residential part of the house is designed with access stairs and lift in the east corner of the building with corridor leading to the 3 housing units on the each floor, counting 9 apartments in total. Size of each apartment is slightly more than 50 sqm which is suitable for starting families, couples or single professionals. Apartment’s windows and balconies are facing directly to the west and are giving opportunity to enjoy beautiful sunsets over the school garden.
Zigzag placement of the balconies on the west facade is creating additional flexibility to the building layout and adding. Top corner of every balcony is exposed to the south and allowing sun to penetrate deeply to the interior of the flats. Extruded shape is also isolating the flats from the noise of the street down bellow and framing view on the school garden. Overall appearance of the building is rapidly changing during the day when sun is creating iconic play of the shadow and sunlight. Snow white facade paint is just emphasizing contrast between shadow and sunlit areas. Ground floor is made by gradient of monochrome stripes colored from black to white with primary function as a protection against sprayers. Moreover it supports idea of rising of the star.
Simplicity of the design is also reflected in the used materials and construction techniques. All load bearing walls and partitions are from brick strengthened by reinforced concrete ceilings. Balconies are also from brick cantilevered on concrete plateaus. This simplistic construction system allowed skilled local workforce to participate on the construction.
Housing with social apartments was designed as a cheap / low cost project (around 500 E/m2), also as a low energy consumption building /B category/. On the other hand it offers standard of living better than a typical apartment house. Housing was successful also from the commercial point of view , while all apartments were immediately sold out.
Location: Senec, Slovakia
Site area: 313 sqm
Built-up area: 250 sqm
Apartments: 470 sqm
Public functions: 144 sqm
Architects: Nice Architects – www.nicearchitects.sk
Team: Tomas Zacek, Sona Pohlova, Igor Zacek
Photos: Tomas Manina