LJUBLJANA – In Jože Plečnik´s Ljubljana, ancient Roman civilisation meets the grassroots, Slovenian folk meets the cosmopolitan fin-de-siècle in an intrepid, liberated synthesis not found much elsewhere. Local firm OFIS has carried this spirit into the recently-completed project down the street from the iconic architect’s stone pyramid in the city centre. The Villa Criss-Cross was a private commission calling simply for a single-family residence that could maximise living – while minimising service – space.
From an existing wall along the street front, a new concrete cube extends into the lot. Voids alternately carved into the top and bottom corners form entrances, patios and terraces. The modular, metal cladding consists of rectangular panels with a conspicuous, diagonal bracing from which the project’s name derives. A single ‘X’ truss in the ground-floor patio area anchors and establishes this motif. Equally aesthetic and functional, the criss-crosses attempt an abstract reduction of the eclectic textures present in the neighbouring, historic villas. The resulting identity of this home, project team member Andrej Gregoric claims, stands out from its counterparts as timeless and open to interpretation. The envelope defies the sobriety of its beige colour palette with sporadic recesses and a double-perforated texture that suggest lightness and transparency.
Exposed concrete along the interior frame wraps light timber partitions and floors. In the absence of a cellar, black mesh cabinets echoing the exterior provide ample storage. Built-in furniture throughout the plan further optimises space. Perhaps in the manner of the aforementioned pyramid, levels precede walls in dividing functions – with the ground floor hosting communal spaces, the first floor serving as the children’s living space and the second storey accommodating the parents.