This is a project by Atelier Thomas Pucher + Bramberger [architects] and it is located at Tartu, Estonia. It was submitted to Architecture News Plus (ANP) by Atelier Thomas Pucher. Project's program: Apartment building. There are twenty six images for The River/Jõekaare Residential Tower.
Jõekaare Residential District is a project that came out as the winning scheme of an invited international competition, in 2006. The site is located on a former industrial area in the southern suburbs of the 100 000 inhabitants’ City of Tartu. It is characterized by its exceptional position on a peninsular of the central Estonian Emajõgi river; overlooking the spectacular landscape of a natural reserve at its opposite side.
The River Tower is the first realized building of the scheme, the construction ended in August 2008. When finished, expected in 2014, a total of nine buildings with 440 apartments and approximately 1 000 inhabitants will be settled there.
Urban Concept: A Neighborhood
Due to the suburban position of the site it was necessary to design a distinctive neighbourhood where people can appreciate the advantages of their individuality but also enjoying a sense of community and a sense of togetherness.
Responding to the situation given by the urban and natural environment, we developed two types of buildings. While the one along the riverside represents the villa type (The River Tower), the other, facing the city, tends to be a more urban type (The City Slab). The orientation and position of the buildings is designed in order to enable an optimum of view and privacy for all apartments but also creating a central public plaza in between, ideal for community interaction and for children’s play.
The Buildings: Stacked Villas
The river towers themselves can be described as ‘stacked villas’. This design combines all of the economic and ecological advantages of living in an urban apartment house with the benefits of a suburban single-family house: its spaciousness, flexibility, stand-alone privacy, its setting and views, and the sense of private property. However, the construction and maintenance costs are much lower, and families in particular can enjoy the maintained garden and thriving community location.
All buildings are organised in a very clear and compact way. Each building is conceived as a box with an optimum volume-surface ratio. The lobby, with the staircase and its thin, spiral atrium occupies the centre of the building. The apartments are distributed around this centre like a ring with a clear separation in two zones: an internal service ring that contains entrances, wardrobes, toilets, bathrooms, saunas, and sometimes kitchens. All infrastructural elements are compressed in this area, providing economic distances for installations as well as an effective noise barrier to the lobby.
The second zone is the external living ring, orientated in order to obtain the maximum exposure the landscape. It accommodates bedrooms and living rooms, separated by lightweight walls without any load bearing elements. Thus these rooms can be easily changed or reshuffled to suit the owners’ wishes.
Large terraces open onto the river and stunning countryside; they are designed to be entirely private from neighbours. With their flipped — thus irregular — edge they are liable for the characteristic form of the buildings.
Because of the ring-shaped organisation of the floors a second way of flexibility is provided. There is always one room per apartment which is placed at the partition wall to the neighbouring apartment. By switching this room either to the one or to the other apartment it is possible to change the sizes and types — and therefore the mix — of apartments inside each tower. These “joker rooms” provide a high flexibility and keep the option to change apartment sizes even after the completion of the buildings.
Facade: The Appearance Of The Buildings
While the building volume itself is very compact and straight in its organisation, only the edge of the surrounding balcony is slightly inclined and mirrored on each floor. This simple gesture leads to a spacious 3D-effect for the building volume and gives shape in a light and vibrant way. The light on the facade provides different shadows and gives it a poetic but also generous appearance. Visually it reduces the buildings compact masses and softens the spaces between the buildings. It fits well between the meadows and trees of the landscape environment.