In Brno, a Crisp and Inviting Social Housing Complex

In Brno, a Crisp and Inviting Social Housing Complex

With an urban population of nearly 700,000, Brno is second only to Prague as the largest city in Czechia. And while the architectural splendours of the capital commands the lion’s share of global attention, the Moravian metropolis is a design destination in its own right. Renowned for its gothic and baroque heritage, Brno is also home to Mies van der Rohe’s legendary Villa Tugendhat, as well as a growing series of notable contemporary designs, ranging from a reimagined brutalist bus depot to a sun-filled gallery and yoga studio carved from an industrial shell, and a stunning winery just beyond the city proper. On Bratislavská street, local architects CL3 introduce another modern standout.

A street-level view of the building from across the road

Situated just outside of the Brno historic core, the understated new social housing complex (known by its address as Apartment Block Bratislavská 51) adds two dozen new homes to a compact, 702-square-metre urban lot. Commissioned by the municipality of Brno, the publicly-funded development fills out a vacant lot on a block defined by 20th-century apartment buildings.

While the seven-storey, 2,614-square-metre building meets the scale of its pre-war surroundings, it’s also a quiet architectural highlight. Distinguished by its crisp white façade and deep, subtly angled loggias, the apartment block is a simple and streamlined presence. Intended for both low-income residents and people with reduced mobility, the accessible suites feature open layouts, light-filled interiors and generous sheltered loggias.

Made possible by the building’s single-stair configuration, the efficient layout accommodates four residences per floor, with the circulation spaces all accented by a deep shade of solid red. From the ground floor entry to the corridors, floors, stairways and individual apartment doors, the bold hue is a notable contrast to the otherwise restrained palette of white finishes. The compact shared spaces are brightened by a circular skylight, which creates a surprisingly airy ambiance in a tight setting.

Completed with a modest construction budget of just €1.5 million, the project also features an elevated second-storey outdoor amenity space for residents, which sits atop nine spots of sheltered ground-floor parking. A model suite — outfitted by celebrated local interior designers Holky rády architekturu — demonstrates the qualities of the simple, light-filled interiors, with floor-to-ceiling curtains used to demarcate varied spaces and inject pops of solid colour. It makes for a space where simplicity is a virtue, and where the crisp white finishes bring the bold monochrome accents to life.

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