Prospective buyers prioritize non-conventional solutions in apartment hunting

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Urban residents who are in search of a new home are becoming increasingly picky and want to find an apartment that would give them absolute comfort and homely feel. Architects do their best to meet this demand. As a result, new apartment building trends are clearly on the rise throughout the world. We are witnessing the emergence of an interesting and captivating architecture featuring distinct elements and tailored to different groups of occupants including children, families, senior citizens and people with disabilities.

There is also a clear trend towards reviving public spaces surrounding apartment buildings. They are transformed into active zones which attract local residents and serve as community cohesion areas. Architect Saulius Pamerneckis who has designed a number of apartment buildings and commercial projects agreed to tell us more about modern apartment building trends currently observed on a global scale as well as in our country.

- What worldwide architectural trends do you notice in general when it comes to new modern apartment buildings?

- In recent years, polifunctional centres that comprise both residential and commercial uses in a single complex have been rapidly gaining popularity. This has proved to be particularly effective in central urban areas. People living in apartment complexes go to work in the morning giving way to employees who work in the same complexes. This is beneficial for all as there are fewer problems with car parking and better distribution of transportation flows within the area.

A considerable emphasis is also placed on outdoor areas and areas immediately surrounding apartment buildings. Apartment building developers invest a lot of money to make sure that occupants want to spend their free time within the complexes. I have noticed that the creation of an internal space within a new complex helps to build a community whose members are willing to take part in joint events and communal efforts. These architectural solutions enable occupants to socialize and act as a positive driving force for establishing closer relationships.

- Do you see the same trends in Lithuania? Are we lagging behind or catching up with the global trends?

- In today’s internet age with a rapid and extensive spread of information and people travelling and getting first-hand experience of what life in other countries is like, architectural trends in Lithuania are almost catching up with those observed globally. In fact, it is a bit easier for today’s designers to realize their ideas as people are more open to new things that we offer to them. Clients-developers take interest in new architectural trends, embrace different non-conventional solutions and are willing to implement them.

Perhaps our country lags behind somewhat when it comes to the use of alternative energy sources. Solar or wind energy system installation is on the rise globally. While this trend ensures lower housing maintenance costs, it also requires large initial investment, driving up apartment prices. This probably explains why this is not a very popular solution in Lithuania.

- You have designed Žvėryno Panoramos apartment complex in Vilnius. What was the inspiration behind this unique project?

- This housing complex is located near the esker formed by retreating glaciers. When exploring this area, what caught my attention was a heritage from the glacial period and I wanted to represent it in architecture. I designed a housing complex the buildings of which resemble pieces of ice with sloping tops. This helped to create an interesting silhouette with sloping roofs which form a playful pulse-like line. I wanted this line to be dented rather than a simple horizontal one. Looking from more distant panoramic viewpoints, this complex of apartment buildings is perceived as the end of the hill and the apex of the hilltop. All the shapes transition smoothly from shorter to taller ones. It feels as if the vibration of the silhouettes melts the entire housing estate. Different heights and volumes were selected to highlight the perspectives in the first and the second plan. It is an unusual concept for an apartment building complex/housing estate.

- What challenges did you encounter when implementing this project?

- You won’t come across many new apartment buildings with attic floors with the exception of the Old Town areas. This project included a variety of non-conventional solutions used for the upper floors. For example, terraces of different sizes on the sloping planes of the roofs and interior spaces with a mezzanine level. The apartments on the upper floors even resemble spacious lofts where occupants have more freedom to express their creativity in designing their interior spaces.

One more challenge was designing the roof planes of the building volumes. Since the roofs in this project are mono-pitched and highly visible, they seem like a fifth façade when observed from more distant perspective points. We did not want to overload them with various utility structures and chimneys.

- What types of materials were used for the project?

- For this project we chose time-tested and tried materials which possess good qualities in terms of quality, durability and longevity. We used plaster, concrete, monolith, wood, tin-plate, glass and metal in the building of this residential complex. These materials were incorporated both in the buildings and in the outdoor areas. All of them come together to form a harmonious whole. In general, the housing complex features a calm, light and modest aesthetics characteristic of the Scandinavian style.

- What makes Žvėryno Panoramos project stand out among other apartment complexes?

- The building volume arrangement in this project is based on a point pattern principle. It is unique in that there are spaces left among individual buildings opening up viewpoints for occupants. The see-through internal areas provide a greater sense of comfort and create a homely atmosphere as occupants do not feel like they are trapped in an enclosed well. This feature is not usually present in apartment buildings as they are often based on a perimeter zone model with enclosed courtyards.

The entire residential complex forms a unified silhouette of building volumes. Each apartment in this project has a large balcony which blends harmoniously into the overall volume composition. Also, the apartments are designed so that occupants can enjoy striking panoramic views of Vilnius.

When designing Žvėryno Panoramos complex, a special attention was given to setting up outdoor spaces in between the buildings. Trees, flower beds and other landscaped areas, minor architecture, outdoor gym and playgrounds create a warm and homely atmosphere within the complex. Shaded sitting areas and benches are not only great places to sit and relax but also serve as communal gathering places.

Real estate development company Realco expects to complete Žvėryno Panoramos project by the end of 2019. It is a unique complex of apartment buildings featuring non-conventional solutions such as roof-top terraces, high ceilings, mezzanine apartments and unconventional layout. These apartments drew immediate interest from buyers after they were put up for sale. This shows that residents are eager to find interesting and non-conventional solutions when it comes to new housing. They want something different and wish to turn their apartments into cosy oases.

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