Sun Site | Letovice

Magdaléna Buzová, Zuzana Lamačková, Pavel Hodek, David Menšík, Radek Prokop, Petr Skrušný, Jr., Petr Skrušný, Sr., Petr Wachsberger
ZAN studio
Traffic engineering:
Martin Novák, David Werner
Landscape design:
Tereza Vařejková
Menšík Skrušný
Architektonika 3000
Urbanism, Villas, Raw houses

The overall concept of the site is based on the unique secluded location of the land on the north side of Letovice. These plots are exceptional not only for their location, completely in nature, adjacent to Letovice forests, streams and meadows, but also for the very hilly terrain sloping not only to the watercourse, but also to the very center of the residential complex. These facts have enabled a proposal that attempts to break the stereotype of a satellite city and create a residential complex evoking the urbanism of a small town.

The Italian mountain town of Monte St. Angelo became the inspiration for this proposal on a large scale. This town’s urbanism, a seemingly disorganized grouping of many small family houses, actually follows a well-thought-out practical system based on historical experience. This transcript was mainly reflected in the central part of this ensemble, which contains several types of terraced houses.

The first group consists of terraced houses that respond to the terrain with their spatial plan, which halves the floors to two height levels and thus gives rise to an interesting play of internal and external volumes, manifested on the facades and terraces. This arrangement, together with the alternation of a half-storey larger houses with smaller ones and elevation differences in terrain with a receding modular unit of four houses, completely disrupts the stereotype of long terraced buildings and thus creates a panorama resembling the roofs of southern mountain towns.

The second group are classic terraced houses, which are located in steep terrain and thus create a terraced structure, which is supported by regular insertion of individual volumes and thus forms another interesting expression, otherwise in the form of very similar family houses.

The entire central area of this complex is connected not only by the aesthetic character of individual houses, but also by the linear continuity of all buildings. This enabled the creation of a unique courtyard unit, which consists of cascading gardens of houses and thus uses the height differences of the gardens to ensure privacy. The integrated block is disrupted only by the parking lot at the place where the block narrows and the three-house building forming the elevated corner of the block at the entrance to the complex, together with the majestic linden tree dividing the ring road.

This imaginary urban core of the complex, creating denser and more economically friendly housing, is bordered by the already mentioned road, which is crowned with buildings of a completely different nature. In the hilly terrain rising around the core, there are buried villas that use the terrain to create large terraces serving the entire strip glass facade. These are separated, apart from the height differences from the rest of the development, by a blockade of greenery, both on the lands of the villas, and green strips with ash alleys.

On the sloping northern lands of the outer ring there is a fourth typological species appearing in the area and there are vertical triple-houses, which are located under the whole complex and use the sloping land to create a unique layout system based on living rooms and kitchens open to the southern gardens from the second floor. These larger residential units form a panorama bordering the very beginning of the complex.

In the steepest northern slope, directly at the entrance to the complex, there is a multifunctional building with a rental space and a kindergarten above the watercourse, which is a monument announcing the presence of a residential complex.

The ring road serving exclusively the Sun Site residents is untraditionally designed as a residential zone with an emphasized part of the road for pedestrians. This effect was achieved by using paving blocks in a beige shade emphasizing the change in the surface and purpose of the road. By a similar principle, all access roads are separated from the rest by cobblestones in a dark shade, which in principle separate the pedestrian part from the beginning of the private zones. This ingenious play of surfaces is followed by parking spaces located in the complex, which bring greenery to the entire area in the form of grass surfaces created from blocks evoking sparsely laid paving blocks.

Material and formal affiliation was a fundamental interest of the project due to the overall coherence of the architectural expression in the scale of detail to urbanism. All buildings are plastered with white paint. This is reflected in all the retaining walls of a complex terrain situation. Probably the most important connecting detail was the perforated white-plastered brick, which is reflected both on the parapets and railings of the terraces, as well as on the fences and dividing walls between the plots of the project’s core. This small detail unites several typological species and brings the already mentioned Southern style to the project. Another unifying element is the modulation itself, which allows the use of one type of French windows and entrance doors for buildings of terraced houses, raumplan houses and three-story houses. The railings of all French windows and balconies in the complex are made of welded strip. It is made in anthracite shade, as well as windows, garage doors and all plating elements. The idea of ​​the project was to merge with the terrain and link to geographical conditions. The appearance of the roofs of all buildings, which with their extensive vegetation complete the impression of merging with the surroundings, also responds to this. Together with the unified road surfaces, the expression of the area is consolidated and a pleasant urban environment is created.

A completely separate unit is a villa development on the outer ring of the complex. In contrast, it separates from the terraced development by its horizontal arrangement. Despite the fact that it follows the whole sensitive combination of colors and materials, it responds to changes in the environment and its importance by different ordering and merging with the steep terrain, which allowed the villas to bury and contrast large terraces serving the entire glass facade of the house. These terrain conditions made it possible to create terraced overflow pools and other interesting elements in the context of the surroundings for the most expensive villa variants.

Another completely unique part of the complex is a multifunctional building with kindergarten towering on the northern slope of the complex. Like the villa development, it has a horizontal composition offering, through strategic vistas and a glass facade, views of the valley with a watercourse. The exterior view of the building, which serves as a gathering area in front of the kindergarten and multifunctional space, is tactically complemented by a cross-section into the roof plane with a small linden tree responding to the monumental linden tree of the very beginning of the complex.

A settled but very tectonically interesting building on the outer ring of this area is a three-story house with three vertical apartments. It also works with the terrain and places the entrance, garage parking, cloakrooms and technical facilities in the basement. The roof of the entrance from the northern façade is formed by the balcony of the dining room and a large terrace overlooking the valley recedes modularly above it. On the second floor, the floor with the living room and kitchen reaches the ground level, which leads to the small gardens on the south side of the building. On the south façade, a simple grid of classic windows used in the complex is repeated, and the southern bedroom is complemented by a small balcony on the top floor.

Last but not least, the houses in the center itself are also interesting. Raumplan houses using the opposite direction of the change of terrain, which slopes from the west to the east facade of the house. The access to the building is placed at the first floor. The living room with kitchen is half a floor from the entrance, where the view of a small courtyard garden with retaining walls in complicated terrain appears through a large French window. On the higher floors, there are several bathrooms, bedrooms and children’s rooms according to the wishes of the resident. On the top floor with a large east or west terrace, lined with perforated brick, there is a large room, taking advantage of the height differences of the large clearance, which ends the house. The alternation of materials is also supported by the difference between the two versions of the house, one of which is half a floor lower and the difference of one bedroom helps to break the stereotype of the rows of houses. The facade of the house is simple again. It uses a simple grid of opening French windows, which can be seen throughout the complex, and fixed windows extended according to the golden ratio.

The smallest form of independent living is terraced houses on the west side of the center. They are set in steep terrain, which does not manifest itself in the depth of the building and it was therefore not appropriate to use a half-storey system. The facade of the house reflects the layout of the house and uses a similar system of openings as larger terraced houses. These buildings have a different use of perforated brick, which in the case of raumplan houses forms the railings of a large terrace, and is reflected in the parapet of the house.

The unifying element of the perforated brick, in addition to the parapets and railings of the terraces, is also reflected in the core itself on the walls dividing the access roads to the terraced houses in terrain differences. In addition to the shed, there is also the main electrical service panel hidden in these walls, so that important exterior elements are brought to the border of the plot.