Ivan Vitić, Residential Blocks 1 and 2, Vis, Island of Vis
1 – 1952/1953 – partially executed
2 – 1961 – a project
Residential Block 1
In 1951 and 1953, Ivan Vitić realised a series of contemporary residential objects in Dalmatia, ranging from individual houses to residential blocks. Their important characteristic is their well-conceived spatial positioning. The residential block built in Vis between 1952 and 1953, on the island of the same name, is considerably different from other residential projects, on the one hand in its modernist concept, and on the other in the critical interpretation of its regional context. In comparison to other projects, this one stands out as a contradictory construction of a residential block on a previously unexplored architectural location, which was imposed on the architect. For this reason, the block was only partially built.
In the project we can recognise the architect’s sensitivity in relation to the specific character of the amphitheatre-like topography of the landscape, to the Mediterranean terraced space of the Vis Bay, and the atmosphere generated by this environment in relation to construction on a smaller scale. Therefore, the architect consciously declined from making larger residential blocks or row-houses, proposing instead fragmented smaller configurations of open-composition groups.
In the northern part of the Vis Bay, between the last houses of the city and the monastery with a cemetery, the construction of eighteen apartments, divided into four buildings of different dimensions in free configuration, was envisaged. Only the largest building, with eight apartments for navy officials, was realised.
Out of single, equal-storey elements with two apartments each, by arranging and adding an inserted ground-floor element with the function of a storeroom, different spatial configurations, similar to traditional building on the island, were realised. The buildings consisted of a series of fragments, ranging from independent units to two units forming an L-shaped space, or even four elements forming a U-shaped yard. Their form and mutual relations create a series of clearly articulated areas, from private to semi-public and public areas. This disposition formed a small residential entity, adjusted not only to the scale of existing buildings, but also to the conditions for establishing a social life of a community with the characteristic habit of living in the open. For this purpose, the architect constructed a self-standing brick barbecue.
All the apartments can be individually accessed from outer areas, even on the first floor, which is accessed by means of a console construction, an outer one-armed stairway, and the terrace of the connecting ground-floor part, which is characteristic of the Dalmatian residential house type. Residential units are shaped in a very modern way, with divided day and night parts, featuring a belt of service rooms defined/developed along the entire breadth, and a loggia that provides shade for the daily living area. The synthesis of the regional and the modern also shows in the materialisation of the envelope treated as an abstract surface, shaped by contrasting the massive stone wall with the perforated plastered one. In this architect’s work it is possible to trace this kind of approach to indentation of the building volume and the treatment of its surfaces already from the time of his first residential projects, like his 1945 project for family houses, with characteristic L-shaped volumes and outer access to the terrace of the lower wing, the sketch for an unknown house (1946), the Bunko house in Mimice (construction project), the family house in Knin (1951), the Sekulić house, and the executed residential blocks in Šibenik, as well as the Spaventi house in Lapad, Dubrovnik (1962).
Residential Block 2
Eight years after the realisation of the first block in Vis, Ivan Vitić worked on a project of ideas for filling up the void between two existing houses along the quai, in the old part of the city of Vis, next to the winery. The project, which was unfortunately not executed, reveals an intelligent concept that, by setting up three new volumes, leads to the formation of a small square that would function as a link to the new neighbourhood and at the same time enable access to the street behind the quai.
The new volumes are shaped strictly geometrically, in concordance with the neighbouring buildings. The only visible difference is in the shaping of the roof truss, where the architect managed to introduce a special feature into the project by inverting a pitched roof to the inside, in the form of butterfly wings. Different residential typologies are presented in three volumes with a classic, centrally placed stairway, a transversal stairway, and a gallery access showing different levels. As an addition to the dominant residential program and as a presentation of a contemporary program element of the location, on the ground-floor of the central, largest volume is an “American Bar” with a ten-metre-long counter.