A Little, but Enough

author Tomislav Pavelić
project Extension of the Family House in Trešnjevka, Zagreb, Croatia
written by Frano Petar Zovko

In the last decade, due to the economic and ecological crisis as well as the perception of the built environment as their common denominator, the rational use of material and spatial resources has shifted from being a specific challenge of the discipline to being the central topic of the discourse on architecture. Design practises have faced the issue of generating a paradigmatic shift and producing architecture, especially residential architecture, which responds to the current crisis and the insecurities of the future. The idea of cost-effectiveness is, however, deprived of the mechanisms of collective, planned and comprehensive resource management, caught in the bafflingly complex web of production relations that are important not only for construction but the life of a building after its completion as well. Finally, it is faced with the systematic necessity of growth related to capitalist economy. It is thus not unambiguously defined but scattered into a spectre of thematic and methodological lines that allow the expressiveness and uniqueness of the project by developing the logic of its premise or context. On the other hand, there is an opposite direction in which the space for manoeuvre and experiments is quite reduced – perceiving cost-effectiveness as a way of life, anonymity and complying with the commonness of a contemporary city, in which every house is a compromise between the budget and the standard.
Tomislav Pavelić designed the extension of the family house for an extended family member. It is located in the northwest part of Zagreb’s Trešnjevka neighbourhood, in the dense network of narrow residential streets that spread from Zagorska Street, where workers’ homes from the mid-20th century, surrounded by yards, garages and workshops are mixed with (still rather rare) oversized spatial footprints of transition urbanisation, thus creating a contradictory, yet incredibly intimate and lively environment. The extension leans on the northern half of the semi-detached house built in the late 1950s and occupies a niche created by the difference in the depth of the connected houses, which gives an impression of completion rather than the extension of the building’s blueprint.