Urban Cubes by KLab Architecture

April 12, 2012

KLab Architecture have designed the Urban Cubes building in Athens, Greece.


Description from the architect:

In Cyclades the “Chora” the main village used to be mainly on a hill or a mountain in order to be protected from the pirates that were ruling the seas in the past centuries. The white cubes are built on top of each other allowing ventilation and sun to access every part of the house. The same houses very dense were creating the defensive walls of the “chora”.

Until the mid 80s, Athinian buildings had a certain typology at least the vast majority of them that was constructed in the 50’s-60’s and 70’s. Multistory buildings that had floors of identical size, which housed various apartments and which were fronted by a small narrow balcony that was running across the façade, while the top floor had two or three penthouses which were recessed from the bulk of the core building frame providing larger verandas for the richer inhabitants of the last floors.

Pagrati is a densely populated district located on slopes and hills and built through a system where the owner of the land transferred the plot to the contractor in return for a number of units in the designated building to be constructed on the plot. Such practice called “antiparochi” has created Athens. It was mainly concentrated in commercial areas, so outside the district central zone  buildings resulted sometimes of smaller height and size  and which usually housed one or two families. The ever changing provisions of the Building Code regarding permissible height and ways of counting building areas has resulted in a mosaic of styles and constructions of residences in the area where “urban cubes” building exists.

We defined our new apartment building as a paradox. It resembles that of an urban village, similar to the ones in Cyclades but rather, a vertical one, an urban antidote.
Every apartment building is a small village within itself. It is a unique society where every inhabitant is so different from the other. In “urban cubes” each floor reflects this individuality as one floor differs from another but lies under the same society rules, all in all being signified by a white cantilevered cube hung by the retaining exposed concrete walls. Our party walls made by exposed concrete with few small openings are used metaphorically as the defensive walls of our village.

We were interested to provide a new building that reflects an elevated standard of living. To cater to the different expectations of multiple users we chose to have a variety of floor plans and representing different layouts represented through the use of “boxes/cubes” thereby giving a visual appearance of casual sculptural sophistication that interacts with the city in a novel way.

The plot is long and narrow with a frontage on two perpendicular roads on Filolaou street a main street in Pagkrati. The plot is divided into two parts housing, two separate units with apartments which are conjoined  by the common party wall which in the center becomes the circulation of the building, stairs, elevator and corridors. The vertical courtyard that is formed provides natural light to both sides.

The apparent austerity of concrete coexists with the curved staircase that separates the two exposed concrete party walls. Small openings which give light to the apartments are part of an elaborate plan so as the party walls cease to be blind, but are designed to be consistent and work as the form is based on the unseen interesting back facades of apartment buildings of the 60s and 70s that were almost not have been designed at all and made by chance.

The building’s floor plan is U shaped with the uncovered part splitting the building in two parts which allows the creation of 14 bright and open apartments.

Viewed from the two roads Arryvou and Olympiadou the building creates 2 towers. The building has been extricated from the surrounding urban sprawl and breaks away from the saw cut typically Athenian section producing a dynamic playful façade.

Visit the KLab Architecture website – here.

Photography by B. Louizidis