Villa Radovic is located in Senjak, the residential area of the city, regulated by urban planning at the onset of the 20th century as a zone of family dwelling. The Senjak plan is based on the concept of a garden city at the time of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. With the change of the political order following the WW2, it has been neglected since it did not fit into the urban concept of the new socialist community. In the transition period from socialism to neo-liberal capitalism, in the late 1990s, and in the first decade of the 21st century, Senjak and neighboring Dedinje, finding themselves within the frames of the spatial conception from the beginning of the 20th century, suffered diverse effects of the commodity treatment of the built space. On the other part, they remained the only urbanized city entity convenient for the construction of detached single-family buildings, with the potential of high spatial standard. Using the existing urban grid, structure and infrastructure within the conditions of the new and versatile requirements, heavier traffic and construction of larger buildings, along with the strict legal regulations, it is inescapable that they affect the move forward in the typology of family buildings. The new structure there inherits the regulation and building elements of the old one, and thus the impression is of a layered quality of the space/spatial structures, which sometimes is clearly and sometimes indirectly visible. Manipulation with layers, provides this urban space with heterogeneous spatial and public character and makes it a continuously changeable mechanism. In line with the “as-are” conditions, with the design of Villa Radovic a pragmatic designing approach has been conceived and applied, determined by the restrictive conditions of the building practice (regulation, client requirements and scope of investment), as well as the inherited culturological characteristics and the determinants of the modern architectural discourse.
Medieval understanding of the street, as the element of urban structure, and which is determined by the traffic, infrastructure and small density dwelling, conceived on the principles of a garden city, was problematized by the change in the existing urban structure. The street, being the boundary between the private and the public, was no longer the determinant of the family building, or it was no longer an acceptable model and type of dwelling in this and such context. Open as per its form, the traditional relation of the building towards environment is indirectly placed towards the new and contradictory conditions of the environment. The inherited parcel dimension and the system of social regulation have conditioned forming the buildings of compact form. The behavior of the investors in the unstable transition conditions and rigid taxation frames require that the buildings of this type are understood as merging the object-capital and object of dwelling. With such mixture a new, non-defined relation between the mono-function and multifunction has been established, with a goal of spatial and economic flexibility. The exterior spaces of the house, the access, garden and backyard have been formed as an expansion of the interior space which becomes progressively more introvert, whereas the interspace, in the architectural and public sense, has been reduced to minimum. The neighborhood as an entity vanishes, and urbanity gets closer to the building, more as the number of individual entities than as the system of relations which would make it a public space. Greater traffic frequency, which is characteristic for the family dwelling zones, requires rationality and almost suburban character of the still/dormant traffic of the minimal dimensional frames. Accepting car as an integral part of the modern family life requires a change of block regulation in respect to the times when the street used to be a spatial and public expansion, which accepted the functions and activities that could not have been realized in a dimensionally modest parcel.
The new urban condition has introduced a new approach and change of the accepted typological patterns into the built space, and such typological transformation, by introducing and combining the new elements, denied the existing differences. Thus the typological form, instead of a number of characteristics, becomes a type of time cross section through the use and spatial and public condition.
The traditional type of a detached single family house has radically been transformed in harmony with the new conditions, and the spaces, instead of representing the designs, they are rather defined by the notion of occupancy. The transformation of type alters the degree of publicity, forms a new entity, abolishing some of the old elements and adding the new elements and functions of diverse types, accentuating the program and the potential of the space. The role of the entity is to establish links, to mitigate differences and to morphologically establish itself.
Program and Type
The house is spatially organized through idealized division of family dwelling uses into the levels: work – flat – night – sports. The use and functions are distributed around the vertical center, and depending on the links among the functions, the spaces as per the vertical have been positioned according to the publicity degree, and further progress in respect to the position within the entity and orientation within the context. The relation between the exterior space of the ground and garden, and interior space, along with the regulation conditions, defines the distribution of functions. The flat on the ground is treated as integration of exterior and interior, with an emphasized privacy, which has determined that the fence, being the boundary of the exterior space, be replaced with the new frame – the walls, the envelope of the flat. The program equality of the flat and the garden defines a number of actions of harmonization of the entity and the space publicity degree. The work space on/in the ground represents and artificial public base. Enclosedness is used as an advantage, with the connection with the delevelled side yard which has been formed almost as an atrium. According to its character the side yard is more like a bending of a street and entrance plateau, than the necessity of the spatial program.
The dominant flat space consists of living room with drawing room and the dining area, spatially integrated with the building garden. The degree of integration has been orientated, controlled and accentuated in line with the space quality. The building night zone is on the floor, and is made of segregated spaces which by vertical center are connected with the flat – the building lower level. It has been formed as a pragmatic house part, including all necessary functions, with the privacy level gradation. The second floor is intended for sports activities, and represents the interpretation of the ground program, separated at the position of broad views and hidden sights. The flat is motivated by the activities of the living area being the major function, whereas multifunctionality has been introduced into other parts of the house in line with the individual uses and possibilities of their transformation. Sub-organization, in respect to the average living requirements and spatial boundaries of the realistic, makes the expansion of the elements of the basic standard.
From morphological standpoint, the building is a remix of structures and language of the buildings of the Belgrade Modern, the pioneer excursions of the Serbian architecture to the Modern age, surrounded by slums and eclectic classicism. The integrity of cube, as the carrier of the neutral, abstract form and normative operativeness from the beginning of the 20th century makes the conceptual core and spatial outcome of the architectural expression. The cube monoform, against inscription of meanings, is the interpretations and material resistance, strength and stability, which in meaningful term, is in contradiction to the contemporary subject. The decomposition of cube by materialization in line with the program and character of the interior space marks the tectonics and the role of the elements of form. Spatially, the composition is dominated by the building physical frame, separated from the house basis over the detached flat-yard, which makes yet another transformation of thematic references – from the house on the stone base to the floating solid. Instead of the regression of the concept of Ville Savoye – rendering architecture to the relations which are not the fiction of life.
The limited building contour forms an envelope, a membrane, which changes the architectural expression as per items within the entity on which it is. In vertical disposition, the contour and membrane are variably positioned towards the building tectonics. Membrane represents a complex, a separate entity, with a role of supporting the uniqueness of form and integrating the diversities of the pertaining elements. It is a continuous plane, a simple contour of the necessary volume – a single side open cube. The rhythm of the architectural elements the multiplication of which would make the form inconsistent, has been converted into a slower, more powerful rhythm of large sized strokes.
The illusion of the relation towards the exterior is defined by framing on the own and “borrowed” scene. The frames are positioned so that from the building, through superimposed positions of controlled and autonomous openings, which are graded and the number of which becomes increased with the advance of the building along the vertical, the series of the selected neighborhood images are perceived. The membrane itself, closed from three sides, opens up emphatically towards the garden and the south, which determines the standpoint towards the context.
The intention behind singling out of the individual, simple elements of form, as an entity with new superior characteristics, is not to represent a personal philosophy but to enable those elements to achieve their manifestation in respect to the conditions they emerged in.