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Drenova affordable housing development
4 residential buildings with
80 condominiums
retail spaces + 4 garages
Rijeka, Croatia

1st prize winner
of architectural and urban


consttruction afordable housing

Renderings of project for design development stage drenova afordable housing
  housing afordable drenova
  housing drenova spacerdrenova afordable housing

drenova afordable housing zoka zola
view from south showing 3 out of 4 buildings

1 st prize competition entry 2008
Zoka Zola, Interpolation affordable housing, model
view of site showing 4 new buildings

Zoka Zola, Interpolation affordable housing,diagram of interpolating buildings and contours
diagrams showing mathematical interpolation of contour lines into building shapes

The competition

We won this invited and open competition for affordable housing in Croatia in August 2008. Construction is started in September 2013.

Jury comments:
“This project is important to architecture for its discussion about the edge of the city. It will set new standards for architectural quality for the national affordable housing program.”

The requirements

The requirements of this competition were to design 80 condominiums in 3 - 5 buildings each on its own newly formed lot. In addition we were to provide 120 parking spaces, some commercial spaces, a children’s playground, park areas and fire lanes to reach each condominium. The condominium sizes and each room areas were specified. City zoning and building codes were to be applied.

The Site

The topography of the site is like scrambled papers; 15’ over 15’ of dip in one direction, than 10’ over 20’ rise in another direction and so on. On the highest elevation there is a small circular wetland. The entire site is a habitat for a dense forest with wild and varied in species.

Is this piece of land appropriate for building such a dense development?

If this pice of land is to be used for the requireddensity development, the topography and forest have to remain a key element of the development.

Zoka Zola, Interpolation affordable housing, underneath buildings lifted ground floor
open ground floor

Zoka Zola, Interpolation affordable housing, staircase

Zoka Zola, Interpolation affordable housing, view from forest
view from north

Zoka Zola, Interpolation affordable housing
view showing transparency of the building

Zoka Zola, Interpolation affordable housing, model
view from southeast

Zoka Zola, Interpolation affordable housing, floor plan

garage plans for each building + ground floor of the site (including wetland and fire lanes)

Zoka Zola, Interpolation affordable housing, model
close-up view showing buildings aliignment with site contours

Zoka Zola, Interpolation affordable housing, apartment floor plans
typical floors 2-5

The Concept

We call the project “INTERPOLATION” which in architectural vocabulary usually means insertion of a building in a tight and mature city fabric, but this time we mean Interpolation of a building INTO THE NATURE
Our strategy was to find locations on the site where land is at the same elevation as the two surrounding streets and from there to follow the topographical contours with the building. This strategy was the only way to ensure minimum disturbance of the topography, which in this case means the minimum disturbance of the soil and consequently of the forest. But since the topography of the site was so extreme, we had to mathematically “interpolate” the topographic curves that we had chosen to reduce them to four point polylines that formed a building shape with two “bends” and three variable lengths between the polyline points.

The buildings are lifted off the ground with empty ground levels from which the entire site and its surrounding, which is the edge of the city, is perceivable to every inhabitant. In the same time subterranean condominiums are avoided.

By choosing to place the buildings perpendiular to the edge of the city every condominium gets a view of the city and the forest.

An additional objective was to give all condominiums a view of the Adriatic Sea. Our building typology of double sided units and lifiting the buildings off the ground allows a view of Adriatic sea from every condominium. For people of costal cities in Croatia, the view of the sea is the most prized non material element of their dwelling.

Zoka Zola, Interpolation affordable housing, interior view with afternoon light
view of the apartment with the afternoon light
Zoka Zola, Interpolation affordable housing, diagram with sea views and forest views
diagram showing views to the mountains and the sea

Zoka Zola, Interpolation affordable housing, cross ventilation through unit
cross ventilation of apartments

Zoka Zola, Interpolation affordable housing, interior with morning light
view of the apartment with the morning light

Zoka Zola, Interpolation affordable housing, panoramic view of site and new  buildings
panoramic view of site showing how the buildings interpolate into nature

Zoka Zola, Interpolation affordable housing, cross section through site and all buildings
west-east section through the site showing very irregular topography



©Zoka Zola 2007
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Client: City of Rijeka
Design: Zoka Zola
Dorothea Schulz, Vuki Backonja, Kate Casey, Fred Grier, Adi Kohn, Blake Smith