Inspired by the environment, as well as texture, everything in the subterranean HAMAM jazz lounge has a tactile dimension. It is unexpected, raw, and like an abstract painting, or more appropriately, like the sound of jazz, it is ever-changing and wide open to interpretation.
Although met with scepticism by area critics for its uniqueness during its initial stage of planning, it now serves as a local hotspot for inspiration. With its mere presence alone it has catalysed creativity, encouraging other architects and artists in the Balkans to think outside of the box and for the good of the community.
Co-Owner of HAMAM and 4M client Dardan Islami said,“It is a place where you truly experience the energy, and the sound of the music. You feel the city within the floating mud panels on the ceiling, the carved walls, and through the recycled materials.”
Different from the copy-paste building culture in Kosovo, the innovative and sustainable design uses local materials: straw, mud, wood, and concrete, as well as the labour and expertise of skilled local craftsmen. At the same time, the design incorporates industrial elements to mirror the edginess of the urban capital.
Created with imagination and ingenuity, the architects left existing walls in place but scraped all layers of tiles. A collective memory of eight months of labour is engraved into the walls of the 3000 sq ft lounge as the carvings of the workers’ hammers, and tools are permanently imprinted into the concrete. The client’s main concern was not an aesthetic issue, but an acoustic one. How to enhance sound quality without disturbing residential neighbours within a confined concrete basement?
4M Group used their offices in London to experiment with various materials. They discovered that dried mud suspended on cables provided a cushion for sound waves, reducing noise and cancelling echoes. Fifteen local workers were employed to create hundreds of mud panels for the ceiling, which hid the dim ceiling lights and wires. Chairs, cushions and tables designed by 4M and were handmade by local artisans, wood and leather makers. The grand metal doors were corroded for several weeks prior to installation. A second set of doors were installed at the entrance. They were made out of reclaimed oak and were installed by local specialists.
What was once dead space in a dingy car park, with challenging design and acoustic dilemmas, has been transformed into a vision of fearlessness that communicates with the local heritage and further integrates and enhances its context within its environment and community.
Size: 3,000 sq ft
Duration: Eight months
Opening: January 1, 2011