Avala House
by TEN

The Avala House is a residence situated in a pastoral landscape on Avala mountain near Belgrade, Serbia.

Designed by TEN, the house is a single-story space built over an existing southward inclining orchard garden. The surrounding surface forms both the inhabited area of the house and delimits the building perimeter.

It is organised by a 3.2m grid frame, measuring 16 by 16 sq.m, with an interior cut out of 9.6 by 9.6 meters revealing the terrain below.

The frame utilises square steel tube profiles welded in place and fixed to the structural minimum of three foundation points on the terrain.

These points define the arrival area on the ground plane, and the positioning of two large concrete forms –like boulders in the landscape – dedicated to both an outside garden staircase and a storage space with a garden bathroom.

The sloping terrain continues between and underneath the house, offering a shaded outdoor living space. The main floor above sets a new datum within the topography of the existing slope overlooking the surrounding forest.

Introducing the landscape, trees and natural ground cover into the central space of the building.

The plan is developed on the outer grid as a sequence of four terraces interlocking at corners to offer a new horizon for dwelling.

Each terrace holds a different surface material, providing possibilities for a variety of use. The boundaries of the steel frame are constantly challenged by these alterations in material or through the performance of its movable elements. These allow the house to undergo a total transformation of scale and atmosphere.

The opaque wall facing the central interior space is made of large pivoting steel doors, allowing the living area to shift from a singular indoor space of 50 sqm to embrace the 156 sqm volumes of the four outdoor terraces.

The large stretch of glass on the southern facade of the frame extends the living space to the rise of the distant hills.

The customised sun shading closes this expanse, giving a singular interior space, discretely partitioned by a series of floor to ceiling full-length curtains defining the sleeping area from the kitchen, dining, sitting, and bathroom.

The house inverts the priority of building a traditional protected shelter in nature, by allowing various scenarios of exposure to nature within the building.

Every element of the house emphasises the performance of structure and space. All details are revealed.

This is exemplified in the visible joints of the main steel frame, the connections to the bearing points, the exposed bracing and raw material finish.

The central premise of the project was to include the future owner, a local craftsman, in the process of making by specifying only available local material and construction knowledge. The house is a case study on how design effort can turn sufficiency into a desirable form for living.

This challenged the norm of architecture being a complete conceptual product, delivered to the site via the client, but instead opened the process as a genuine conversation on the process of construction, the future use and practical and necessary maintenance.

Title Avala House
Authors TEN (Nemanja Zimonjić, Ognjen Krašna, Jana Kulić, Dr. Miodrag Grbić)
Contributors Ganz Landschaftsarchitekten (landscape)
Surface  156m²
Location Belgrade, Serbia
Client Private
Year 2017–2020
Photography Maxime Delvaux, Milos Martinovic, Relja Ivanic

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a project powered by Itinerant Office

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