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POS – Social Housing
Krapinske Toplice, Croatia 2003


Krapinske Toplice, a thermal town in Croatia set in an idyllic, hilly landscape, is an ideal destination for Zagreb (40 kilometers away) residents wishing to leave the city for the country. In order to partially curb the postsocialist single-family housing boom, the town is in need of special attractions, such as that provided by the POS housing program initiated in 2001: multi-story housing with split levels, sometimes spanning three floors, providing (frequently direct) garden access at a socially tolerable price. The architects furthermore strove to blend the building’s appearance, evocative of rural monopitch roofs and wooden fences, into the surrounding area. While the outer gestalt is more or less simply accepted by most residents, the appropriation of the spacious interior is enthusiastically undertaken, with the building modifications demonstrating a tendency to attain not only enhanced privacy but also extra area through landings and balconies. Thus, for instance, the originally transparent boxes, projecting as semi-private buffer zones into the galleries, were covered to afford privacy, while the stair landings and sitting alcoves have remained favored neighborly gathering areas.


Angelika Fitz


Multi-story housing in terraced style as an alternative to songle-family housing

Iva Letilovic & Morana Vlahovic





Foto: © Bewohnerinnen und Bewohner von Krapinske Toplice, 2008

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Heterotopia Instead of Utopia? A Subsidized Residental Building in Toplice Krapinske Toplice, October 2008

The not very large town of Krapinske Toplice is located in a valley of the picturesque Hrvatsko Zagorje1 landscape, a region in northwest Croatia well-known for its springs of therapeutic thermal water. In the little town itself and its surroundings, there are as many as five hospitals and rehabilitation centers, with a tradition that stretches back to antiquity, with medicine and health tourism comprising the main branch of the economy employing most inhabitants. Krapinske Toplice, like most settlements in Hrvatsko Zagorje, does not have a pronounced urban physiognomy, being a rather loose, straggling conurbation along the main roads. For that reason, one town tends to lead into the other, and the whole of Zagorje gives the impression of being one large, dispersed village with the occasional accent, like the odd fort or Baroque manor house of the gentry. The center of Krapinske Toplice is taken up by a large complex of pools, with a bizarrely designed corrugated roof contour, already nine years into the building process without any conclusion to the construction in sight. The pools, which during socialism were a popular gathering point for visitors from the entire region, fell prey during the privatization process to a local entrepreneur who has shown no particular initiative to complete the facility for marketing the substance that constitutes the core identity of the town and is probably one of the most important sources of revenue for the local community. At any rate, neither Krapinske Toplice nor a few eclectic facilities from the Austro-Hungarian period are distinguished by any particularly interesting architecture.


Nevertheless, when you are travelling by car from Zagreb, after you have turned the bend in the road where a sign with the name of the town stands, after a hillock, there is a sudden view of a dark brown horizontal building, visible from a somewhat elevated position that reveals the body of the house in all perspectives. The impression left by the building is ambivalent and somewhat strange, oscillating between a relatively neutral, ordinary appearance and a certain amount of the drama of a well-composed volume cut into the ground. The timber-colored rendering and the shed roof suggest a link with the local context and the tradition of rural construction. On the other hand, the long volume with a regular rhythm of French windows in standard format is situated perpendicularly on the slope, and it seems as if the building is anchored into the ground, while the gable, turned towards the valley, appears eager to take off. The counterpointing of the prismatic body of the building and the landscape is simultaneously emphasized by the geometry and yet toned down by the color, while the neatly arranged chimneys poking out of the roof suggest a residential purpose. This is a multi-residential building by architects Iva Letilovi´c and Morana Vlahovi´c, who, while they were designing and building in 2001–2003, had only just turned thirty.  ...

Maroje Mrduljas


for entire text see catalogue

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