Apartment with a Tropical Garden by Arhitektura

Apartment with a Tropical Garden is a modernist home located in Ljubljana, Slovenia, redesigned in 2022 by Arhitektura.

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The renovation of a small apartment for a young professional is located near the city center of Ljubljana, in one of the green modernist neighborhoods that gradually began to surround the city center after WW2. The distinctive quality of this modernist apartment is in its spatial freedom as it only features two load-bearing walls, thus enabling completely arbitrary scheduling of living programs. The simplified ground plan now offers more optimal use of the living space while also clearing the overfilled, unnecessary content of the previous owner.

The client is a young professional, who in his spare time enjoys traveling around the globe, and collecting various local artifacts. While at home he enjoys playing musical instruments and listening to old vinyl records, preferably those with groovy rhythms. The existing apartment was too divided and restrictive for his rhythm of life. By demolishing all the non-load-bearing walls, we formed a blank slate into which we inserted a spatial element featuring a bathroom with a toilet and a kitchen. The result is an apartment that has no hidden corners and closed-off sides.

Despite having large glass surfaces, the apartment does not have much light due to its northern orientation. It was additionally taken away by the parapet made between the unheated winter garden and the living room. In order to let more light in, we removed the parapet and installed a large frameless balcony window in the place of the existing glazing. Through this almost invisible membrane, the living room connects to the new green heart of the apartment. This new tropical garden with evergreen vegetation is a place of contemplation where the client moves away from the hustle and bustle of everyday living to enjoy a cup of tea or smoke the shisha pipe. Whilst enjoying the beverages he is still visually connected to all living parts of the apartment.

The living room and the kitchen are two inextricably linked spatial elements, as the client’s life is closely connected with the enjoyment of cuisine, music, and art. The new layout is designed for easy implementation of various social scenarios; from hosting parties and dinners to jamming with modern and folk instruments, accompanied by rhythms from the record player.

The floor in the apartment is covered with bright micro cement. Due to the mentioned spatial use, we were looking for a material resistant to wear that brings a feeling of lightness to the apartment. The elements of interior design are contemporary and made from ash and walnut wood. Various details are inspired by folk elements – we have used rattan liberally as it is an element that conjures up the atmosphere of hot tropical evenings, which brings to mind the client’s travels.

Important components in shaping the atmosphere of the apartment are tropical perennials and a collection of sculptural works carefully collected by the client on his travels. For the purpose of this renovation, we collaborated with the ceramic studio New Objects to supplement the client’s collection with various contemporary art pieces. In search of a balance between the designed elements in the apartment, ranging in earth tones from concrete, and wood to clay, we tried to co-shape the atmosphere with the seemingly controversial placement of various metal elements, such as Hay’s SLIT table and chair C2210 designed by ARHITEKTURA, thus creating a little bit of a design counterpoint.

Photography courtesy of Arhitektura

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- by Matt Watts