The Kamenice Villa: City Meets Country Charm
Nestled in the midst of lush greenery, a charming residential project calls out from the heart of the tranquil village of Kamenice in Central Bohemia, Czech Republic. This project designed by NEW HOW architectural studio comprises two beautifully designed villas that serve as a welcoming gateway to the village center.
The Kamenice Villa Project is a place that combines the best of urban and country living. Architects David Zámečník and Filip Havliš, the founding members of NEW HOW architectural studio have predominantly worked on residential and commercial architecture in mountainous area. The greatest success of the architects to date has been their winning the international architectural competition for the New Cottage of Kežmarok in the High Tatra Mountains, Slovakia.
The village of Kamenice has lately experienced an influx of residents and the associated construction boom. The original village is being urbanised and urban-type architecture is emerging, especially in the center of the village. The proposed plot is located very close to the center of Kamenice village, next to the main urban axis of the village – Ringhofferova Street. The surrounding development has a diverse character – there are family houses, cottages, and apartment buildings. On the north side, the plot is adjacent to the main pedestrian route that runs through the entire village. The two villas thus create an imaginary gateway to the center of Kamenice.
“The shape of the plot is trapezoidal with longer sides parallel. The shorter ones, towards the roads, diverge. We used this geometric motif in the basic urban composition of the proposal and placed two almost identical square-plan buildings on the plot, with their external facades parallel to the shorter sides of the plot. The buildings themselves are rotated by 13 degrees from each other. An irregular communal space with original mature trees is created between them. The principle of rotating the buildings is also reflected in the shape of the curved parking space, the roof, and the funnel-like widening access road.” explains David Zámečník.
In terms of urban operation and function, the site is divided into longitudinal strips with different functions. Along the eastern perimeter, a road leads to the parking lot. On the other side of the parking lot, there is a pedestrian walkway that traverses the entire site from north to south, connecting Ringhoffer Street to the pedestrian walkway on the north. The western strip of the plot is the widest and is used for private housing.
The central space with original mature trees evokes the feeling of a park between two residences and creates a semi-private space serving the community life of the residents. Private front gardens are designed in the peripheral parts of the residential zone, in direct connection with the ground-floor apartments.
“The central idea of the project was how to place two apartment buildings in an environment of mature greenery, which would not exceed the surrounding buildings and would be in harmony with their surroundings. Two similar villas with square floor plans and diagonally pitched roofs sensitively respond to the surrounding buildings and establish a universal principle in the unorganized development of the village’s wider center,” elucidates Filip.
“The dynamic facades and the wooden cladding evoke a civilized and welcoming expression of the new buildings, materially connected to the surroundings and nature. The villas are designed as single-staircase buildings – a typology where all apartments on a floor are accessible from one vertical communication space. Both villas have three floors, with the top floor as an attic. There are eight apartments in each villa, ranging in size from 2+k’ette to 4+k’ette,” he added.
The horizontal structural elements of the buildings, such as strip footings, ceilings, and balconies, are constructed using monolithic reinforced concrete. In contrast, the load-bearing walls are made of brick blocks. As for the roof structure, it is finished with a grey PVC membrane and comprises wooden rafters, which are supported by steel purlins.
The external walls are insulated with mineral wool, coated with plaster, and then completed with vertical wooden slats made from Siberian larch. The covered parking space is constructed using steel profiles with trapezoidal sheet metal roofing, and the roof is designed to be an extensive green space. Furthermore, the access road to the parking lots is thoughtfully designed using concrete grass blocks filled with fine gravel.