UNStudio wins competition for a new mixed-use residential development in Romania
By Josh Niland|
Monday, Jul 25, 2022
Romanian developers IULIUS group have recently announced their selection of a design from UNStudio in a shortlisted competition to deliver a mixed-use development called Palas Residential to the historic city of Iasi.
The firm’s plan beat out others from MVRDV, Foster + Partners, and Zaha Hadid Architects and will occupy a site adjacent to the Palace of Culture in a rapidly regenerating, new commercial district in Iasi’s central core.
The jury commended its visual connectivity and site-considerate design, stating: “The volumetric solution is the most flattened of all the proposals, constructing a plan that relates to the city skyline, which is at the same time an amplification of the Palace of Culture Square. It thus offers a 360-degree experience of the Iasi skyline and urban landscape. A double-height space also functions as a buffer between the volumes at the base, at the level of passers-by, and the residential canopy. The overall appearance is marked by the metaphor of geological stratification."
Its volume is split into three parts by a transparent public level called the horizon that serves as the building’s physical extension to the city and is surrounded by a plinth and biophilia-lined sky residences which form the rest of the program.
Per the studio: “This massing concept is driven by the topography of the site and by the different characteristics of the areas above and below the development. This contextual response forms the main gesture and concept for the articulation of the building in terms of both geometry and materials as well as program. As such, each part of the building has its own unique design, character, and program.”
“The lower part, the plinth, is located between the two ground levels and is designed as a more ‘earthy’ space in terms of the materiality of the apartments. This plinth forms the ‘rock’ on which we place the transparent horizon layer that creates a visual extension of the park and houses spaces for cultural activities. The sky residences layer contains the most apartments. It is designed as a combination of wood-clad slabs and folding glass. This part of the building levitates above the green strip of the horizon layer.”
The studio's founder, Ben van Berkel, says: “Our vision is to create a space that bridges time to '[combine] communities and dissolves social barriers' in context with the neighborhood of St. Andrews and Palace Square.” A press statement also indicated their desire to frame the development as "an attempt to redefine the relationship between public and private spaces, while simultaneously serving as an example of how we can redefine the relationship between contemporary architecture and historical city centers.”
Palas Residential will be UNStudio's first built project in Romania.
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