Cultural-tourist complex, Mokrin
MOKRIN (RS) - Studio AUTORI reinterpret 18th-century heritage through contemporary forms and materials.
Mokrin is a small town in north-east Serbia, situated on the vast Pannonian Plain in the province of Vojvodina. It is a typical Vojvodina town with a spatial pattern dating from the 18th century. Such towns are characterized by a clear-cut linearity, applied to streets, plot plans and the arrangement of houses on the plots. The new Terra Panonica cultural-tourist complex is situated on one of the bigger housing estates. Although it does not include objects of special historical or architectural value, as an ensemble the estate does represent a certain cultural value and the traditionally arranged, freestanding houses have a distinctive character.
An invited competition resulted in the young architects of Studio AUTORI being selected to design the cultural-tourist ensemble. They faced a challenging task because of the manifold demands of the developer and his Terra Panonica company, which is engaged in marketing authentic local produce and food, in modern design packaging, and developing new trends in high-end tourism. The architects were required to design offices for the company and educational facilities, and to treat the existing complex of buildings with respect. The basic idea was to offer an interconnected cluster of facilities for culture, art and the exchange of knowledge and experience, accommodating participants and visitors, in particular young professionals from the region.
House B is the first of the five buildings that make up the complex to be realized. It occupies the site of a family home dating from 1878 which had to be demolished due to its dilapidated condition. It will be used for workshops and seminars relating to projects in the field of art. The emphasis on creative work inspired the architects to reinterpret the previous building in a contemporary way. The only reference to the vernacular architecture of the region is the shape. The roofing and facades of the steel-frame house are entirely clad with dark-coloured fibre cement panels. In contrast to the facade, all the interior surfaces are white, except for the pale wooden partition walls-cum-storage that divide the workshops from the offices. Both rooms are flexible open-plan spaces that can be adapted to suit changing requirements. Communication and openness are motifs for the interior of House B, as well as for the organization of the ensemble of buildings, which are arranged around a courtyard. The street facade of House B replicates the facade of the demolished house in its proportions and openings. The rear elevation is more open, and its irregular arrangement of windows provides those inside with different experiences of light and space, depending on their location within the house.
The architects' approach is direct and clear: a reinterpretation of heritage through the use of contemporary forms and materials. In so doing, AUTORI have freed themselves of everything that is redundant or merely decorative. Theirs is an approach that is becoming increasingly popular in Europe today, and has been called the New Simplicity. What they have designed here is also functional and sustainable, like the special piece of furniture in House B. It is a bench made from wooden beams that were a part of the roof construction of the demolished house. They are all that remains of the earlier house, salvaged to continue living in a reinterpreted way.
House A, a 1925 family home, is currently being converted into accommodation for visitors. Three more (new) buildings are scheduled for construction next year. They will house wellness functions and a swimming pool, a showroom for the company's products and a café with common recreation space for the visitors.
When completed, the ensemble will be understood and enjoyed as a contemporary entity, offering easy connections between a range of functions, accessible from an open patio-like central space. It is hoped that this contemporary makeover of a traditional ensemble will set a strong example for the revaluation of vernacular architecture, and for giving talented young architects an opportunity to enrich the built environment.
June | 2011 | Serbia | Vesna Vučinić