Atelier Štěpán probes into introverted living through the Internal Landscape Villa

Designed as a minimal villa where light and people can move freely akin to a “fish in the water”, the Internal Landscape Villa is influenced by the Greek Atrium Displuviatum.

by Anmol AhujaPublished on : Oct 31, 2021

Vitruvian principles, though regarded timeless in architectural language, theory, and application, are a vastly interesting inspiration to take for architecture in a contemporary context. Needless to say, this is especially true since modern architecture operates on a completely different set of constraints; wherein Vitruvian ideals remain more an object of academic research, or a rather subconsciously adapted set of principles that seep into design via curricula. However, it is their interpretation in this structure by Czech Republic-based Atelier Štěpán that comes across as impressive. In terms of architectural communication, what may be described as a courtyard and an outwardly sloping roof with a circular orifice on top assumes definitively interesting proportions when cited to be inspired from the Greek Displuvatium typology of atria. Spatially, this elevates the house from a ‘machine’ to an ‘organ’ for comfort and well being.

  • The relatively smaller size of the site and the surrounding morphology of residences proved to be exciting challenges for the team of architects | Internal Landscape Villa | Atelier Štěpán | STIRworld
    The relatively smaller size of the site and the surrounding morphology of residences proved to be exciting challenges for the team of architects Image: Courtesy of BoysPlayNice
  • The villa’s design is highlighted by an outwardly sloping roof with a circular orifice, eliminating the need for gutters and eaves for drainage | Internal Landscape Villa | Atelier Štěpán | STIRworld
    The villa’s design is highlighted by an outwardly sloping roof with a circular orifice, eliminating the need for gutters and eaves for drainage Image: Courtesy of BoysPlayNice

Located conveniently near the city’s historical centre, while also being flanked by large parklands that are believed to influence microclimate, the project bears “fragile” connections with numerous commercial and educational centres, along with other cultural hubs in the Nový Jičín. Interestingly, and in accordance with a personal hypothesis delving into how most innovation in modern residential design stems from a sense of constraint pertaining to urban morphology or the general living condition, the large orificial roof and several other ocular openings in the house are a response to the client’s brief and wish to live “largely in open air”. The brief, while also proving to be challenging since given a relatively small plot and complex town planning regulations, paved the way for the defining element of the Internal Landscape Villa. I wanted to try and create an inner disposition in which people can move naturally, where they can swim like a fish in the water. The kind of relaxed living where you subconsciously anticipate where everything is. The natural flow of the daylight is most important”, states Marek Jan Štěpán, founder and principal architect at Atelier Štěpán.

  • The villa’s elevation showcasing its subdivision across three distinct levels | Internal Landscape Villa | Atelier Štěpán | STIRworld
    The villa’s elevation showcasing its subdivision across three distinct levels Image: Courtesy of BoysPlayNice
  • The villa’s entrance at the street level | Internal Landscape Villa | Atelier Štěpán | STIRworld
    The villa’s entrance at the street level Image: Courtesy of BoysPlayNice
  • Access to the external atrium through the higher end of the street | Internal Landscape Villa | Atelier Štěpán | STIRworld
    Access to the external atrium through the higher end of the street Image: Courtesy of BoysPlayNice
  • External wooden screen providing a peek into the central green atrium | Internal Landscape Villa | Atelier Štěpán | STIRworld
    External wooden screen providing a peek into the central green atrium Image: Courtesy of BoysPlayNice

Apart from lending an impeccable natural context to draw from, the site also features a gently sloping terrain which the house’s design utilises to its benefit. The villa’s basal slabs are thus horizontally divided into three different platforms: the entrance at the street level, the main living platform set a little less than a full storey’s height above that, and the external atrium, further set at half a metre above the main living platform. The entrance platform is nearly fully done in concrete and contains utility rooms. The main living platform, as its name would describe, comprises other social areas and living/resting spaces, constructed with hints of timber, orthogonal to each other. Both these areas trickle into a central grassy atrium that serves as the inner core, the nucleus of the house. A sauna with a small plunge pool, lined along a similar circular outline, closes the atrium, acting as a divider between the atrium and the street. 

  • The central green atrium acts as the very core of the house, its spatial nucleus | Internal Landscape Villa | Atelier Štěpán | STIRworld
    The central green atrium acts as the very core of the house, its spatial nucleus Image: Courtesy of BoysPlayNice
  • A sauna with a small plunge pool, lined along a similar circular outline, closes the atrium | Internal Landscape Villa | Atelier Štěpán | STIRworld
    A sauna with a small plunge pool, lined along a similar circular outline, closes the atrium Image: Courtesy of BoysPlayNice

“The residence in Nový Jičín is a variation on a classical Greek atrium house, specifically Atrium Displuviatum, which means atrium without eaves/gutters as described by Vitruvius in his Ten Books on Architecture. It is an atrium with no columns and the rainwater is directed away from the atrium”, explains Štěpán on his inspiration for planning the villa as an inward looking residential landscape for introverted living. Among the interior spaces, the most significant areas of the villa in terms of a traditional spatial hierarchy are “compositionally emphasised”. Similar to the circular opening atop the courtyard, a large circular skylight above the dining area dramatises the space, originally adorned in timber and hints of concrete. Similar openings also light up distinct areas of the house, including the living area and the stairwells, activating them with an almost stage-like drama that plays beautifully off the exposed concrete, particularly. Additionally, the bedroom is artfully treated with a large, romanticised motif of Lysá Hora, a peak in the Czech Republic, spanning an entire wall of the bedroom in teal.

  • Similar smaller sized circular skylights add dramatism to the interior spaces | Internal Landscape Villa | Atelier Štěpán | STIRworld
    Similar smaller sized circular skylights add dramatism to the interior spaces Image: Courtesy of BoysPlayNice
  • The interior areas are mostly finished in locust timber panels with hints of concrete | Internal Landscape Villa | Atelier Štěpán | STIRworld
    The interior areas are mostly finished in locust timber panels with hints of concrete Image: Courtesy of BoysPlayNice
  • The rooms on the lower floor are primarily comprised of exposed concrete | Atelier Štěpán | STIRworld
    The rooms on the lower floor are primarily comprised of exposed concrete Image: Courtesy of BoysPlayNice
  • The bedroom bears a large, romanticised motif of Lysá Hora, a peak in the Czech Republic, done in teal  | Internal Landscape Villa | Atelier Štěpán | STIRworld
    The bedroom bears a large, romanticised motif of Lysá Hora, a peak in the Czech Republic, done in teal Image: Courtesy of BoysPlayNice

Apart from the thoughtful conceptual planning and response to the terrain of the site leading to a natural subdivision of levels in the villa design, a subtly balanced material palette comprised mostly of concrete and timber underlines the villa’s interior design. The architects describe this camaraderie between the two materials rather simply, stating that “the bottom is made of concrete; the top from timber”. Structurally as well as cosmetically, timber proves to be a composite addition to the house in the form of cross laminated sections and cladding in locust timber. All the fenestrations in the villa are triple glazed units framed in aluminium. Furthermore, the interior floors are finished in unpolished concrete or oak, lending a richness to the interior palette, a step forward in the pursuit for Hygge. The outside terrace consists of locust boards and a grassed area, resulting in an extension of convivial spaces in the home, beyond the eponymous central.

  • Internal Landscape House: Site Plan | Internal Landscape Villa | Atelier Štěpán | STIRworld
    Internal Landscape House: Site Plan Image: Courtesy of Atelier Štěpán
  • Internal Landscape House: Basement Floor Plan | Internal Landscape Villa | Atelier Štěpán | STIRworld
    Internal Landscape House: Basement Floor Plan Image: Courtesy of Atelier Štěpán
  • Internal Landscape House: Ground Floor Plan | Internal Landscape Villa | Atelier Štěpán | STIRworld
    Internal Landscape House: Ground Floor Plan Image: Courtesy of Atelier Štěpán
  • Internal Landscape House: Section showcasing the levels of the house | Internal Landscape Villa | Atelier Štěpán | STIRworld
    Internal Landscape House: Section showcasing the levels of the house Image: Courtesy of Atelier Štěpán
  • Internal Landscape House: Section showcasing the central green atrium | Internal Landscape Villa | Atelier Štěpán | STIRworld
    Internal Landscape House: Section showcasing the central green atrium Image: Courtesy of Atelier Štěpán
  • Animation showcasing axonometric views of the villa’s levels | Internal Landscape Villa | Atelier Štěpán | STIRworld
    Animation showcasing axonometric views of the villa’s levels Image: Courtesy of Atelier Štěpán

Project Details

Name: Internal Landscape Villa
Location: Janáčkovy sady, Nový Jičín, Czech Republic
Architects: Atelier Štěpán
Principal Architect: Marek Jan Štěpán
Design Team: František Brychta, Lukáš Svoboda, Tomáš Jurák, Hana Arletová, Hana Myšková
Built-up Area: 330 m²
Usable Floor Area: 351 m²
Plot Size: 505 m²
Contractor: Tomáš STRAUB

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