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Our Homes in the Valley

 urban housing concept


master diploma project

prof. dr hab. Weronika Wisniewska

Urban design concept of the housing estate in Lodka and Majowa river valleys in Lodz

A core idea of a project stems from a strong belief that human and natural environment are inextricably bound up with each other. Careful drawing studies on site, supported with physical model studies helped to define qualities of a new urban setting.

The site of this project has significant layer of spatial memory saved in the topography. The Lodka river valley running through the city has shaped the development along its valley since Middle Ages. Later in 19th century the urban pattern of industrial sites with adjacent parks has occurred. Today the water stream runs mostly in underground channel. Thanks to my sketching practice in situ and careful study of maps the spatial importance of the topography has become foundation for the design.

The proposed housing estate is perched on the top of the valley hillside so as to complement the existing urban structure on the one hand and to preserve as much as possible of an open landscape on the other. The clear boundary was created with a path freely following the topography. In that way, new residents could benefit from distant views and a natural green scenery with a recreation potential for a whole neighbourhood.

The public space consists of several courtyards linked with each other and with the path. It could offer a safe and attractive space for social activities. Existing trees and a few proposed places for new facilities or services could enrich a quality of a public life. The possibility of retaining rainwater on site helps to create environmentally sound residential neighbourhood.

An important idea was to provide a wide array of housing opportunity for a variety of different residents. Therefore, the proposed housing estate consists of basically three types of buildings with a distinctively different features. The arrangement of housing typologies is aimed to support  a spatial orientation in the estate by defining a porous structure that offers closing and opening views.

The belvedere like buildings with broad green terraces are freely aligned with the path. They offer the largest flats with an unconstrained contact with the natural scenery. Next three buildings aligned in a row offer small affordable flats arranged along the access decks. The tower like buildings with a significant height form  an unique silhouette of the proposed housing estate. Their shape is supposed to both integrate architecture volumes into a valley landscape and to provide preferable distant views for residents.

Much effort has been given to evoke a sense of being at home in the city, which stems from the understanding of inhabitants’ natural circulation paths. It required a series of spaces with varied degree of privacy ranging from the very public streets to the very private apartments. To enhance the experience of passage, the spaces like courtyards, alleys or front gardens has been designed in a sequence with natural threshold signs like entry trees in front of the courtyard or gates to the semi-public garden.

This idea in an urban scale has its relevant solution in the design of the flats, where the inner space is linked with the broader landscape thanks to loggia and the arrangement of rooms. From the entry hallway to the living room the outside views slowly emerge so as to connect the privacy of the apartment with the public surrounding. Every housing unit has diagonally aligned rooms with adjacent loggia or balcony.

Presented urban housing concept supports the idea that the quality of life is inextricably linked to the quality of the surrounding. The proposed solution is believed to respect its natural context and memory of the place while offering a true dense but sustainable neighbourhood.

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