The architect's home turf is often the space that serves as a true manifesto of the creator's own individual style and perspective, marrying form, function and fantasy. Culture.pl presents a dozen or so of the most intriguing homes of the past century - designed by the architects themselves for their own personal pleasure.
Romuald Gutt – The Professor's Colony
The Professor's Colony (Kolonia Profesorska) is a unique spot on Warsaw's architectural map. It is a cluster of 18 single-family homes designed by the masterful professors of the Architectural Department of the Warsaw Polytechnic for their own living quarters. Its architects and residents include Karol Jankowski, Antoni Jawornicki, Marian Lalewicz, Oskar Sosnowski, Czesław Przybylski and Kazimierz Tołłoczko. These urban villas were created in a courtly style, characteristic for the interwar pursuit of national identity in a newly-independent Poland. One home, however, stands out from the rest - that of Romuald Gutt, designed instead with a functional bend and an ornate façade of grey cement brick, a material typical of the architect's work. This is among Gutt's first modernist projects and a manifest of this new vision for design.
Barbara & Stanisław Brukalski – Avant-garde Stirrings
The Brukalskis' private residence and studio is the first avant-garde architectural project in Poland and proof of the couple's membership of the new progressive elite. Located in Warsaw's green Żoliborz district, the same neighbourhood in which they designed several residential complexes. Their own home features a characteristic façade with a neo-plastic tendency and a terrace on the flat roof. The structure represents the "international style" inspired on the outside by the Dutch De Stijl and on the inside by Le Roche, Le Corbusier's Parisian mansion. The couple had met the French architect at the CIAM international architectural conference, which he was leading. In 1937 the Brukalskis' home won a bronze medal at the Art and Technology in Modern Life International Showcase in Paris in 1937.
Bohdan Lachert – Machine for Living
The most striking example of Corbusian influence is the villa designed by Bohdan Lachert and Józef Szanajca in Saska Kępa, the "French" district of Warsaw. The three-family home is built upon a series of pillars, with a flat roof, open floor plan, plain façade and horizontal layout for the windows. The new form of the structure and the use of concrete as a foundation and a building material endowed the building with an experimental character that was ahead of its time.
Bohdan Pniewski – Earthy Vision
A modernist villa nestled within one of Warsaw's greenest parks, it not only represents a significant chunk of Polish history, but also demonstrates the use of various stone materials (alabaster, marble, sandstone) in a single project. Designed by one of the greatest architects of the 20th century in Poland, it replaced a classicist palace designed by Szymon B. Zuga for the brother of Poland's last king, Prince Casimir. At the turn of the century, it is said to have housed a masonic lodge. In 1933 it was purchased by Bohdan Pniewski and transformed into a functionalist urban villa, maintaining elements of the 18th-century of the structure on the west side and building up the rest of the façade with an irregular pattern of stones. One of the corners features an inscription: "SCANDIVS/ DDAR/ FX/ TAMRC+", a code referring to Pniewski's rebuilding of the masonic temple and his taking up residence within it. After his death, the building became the site of the National Academy of Sciences (PAN) Earth Museum. Inside, the marble retains a spatter of blood from a soldier of the Warsaw Uprising, a "souvenir" of World War II.
Zofia & Oskar Hansen – The Open Form
The house is situated in the village of Szumin, in the picturesque Mazovia region of Warsaw, along the Bug River. For architects Zofia and Oskar Hansen, it initially served as a holiday home, a getaway from their place in Warsaw, an extension on a townhouse. In the 1990s the owner of the building decided to demolish the extension, forcing the architects to make their permanent home in Szumin. The structure is a perfect example of the Open Form theory propounded by the Hansens. It was built in stages, starting in 1969, by all those who made use of the property. Locals supposedly call it the "sheep stable" for the unusual shape of its roof.
Jan Szpakowicz – House in the Woods
Known for his work on the Stegny residential development in Warsaw, for his own home outside of the city Jan Szpakowicz took a more experimental turn. "I wanted to live on a bit of wooded property, without being separated from it by a fenced-in building. Hence the concept for a series of nine structures connected at the top that formed a house in the woods, which included the exposed space around them", said the architect himself. The result is an example of a radical approach to space and the individualist, idealist designs of the 1960s, whereupon function came second to the idea of form. It required its owner to make peace with a number of inconveniences, such as the small bedroom space or the bathroom as the focal point of the entire house. Today it can be interpreted as a reaction to the uniform and overbearing standards set for mass residential construction in Poland during that era.
Jadwiga Grabowska-Hawrylakowa – Best of 1984
As the first woman to get her architectural degree from the Wrocław Polytechnic after the war, Jadwiga Grabowska-Hawrylakowa made a name for herself creating "Manhattan" - a characteristic cluster of residential blocks along Grundwald Square. She received an honourary prize from SARP (Association of Polish Architects) for the project in 1974. As for her private dwelling, she spent 22 years in the Scientists' Home, which she herself designed, together with Edmund Frąckiewicz, Maria Tawryczewsk, and Igor Tawryczewski, 1957-60. One of its characteristic features was the "built-in" furniture. Humbly, she never referred to herself as a co-designer of the building, but simply as "the professor's wife". At the end of the 1970s she and her husband Maciej Hawrylak began constructing their own single-family home and they continue to live there today. In 1984 it won the SARP Home of the Year Award.
Przemo Łukasik / Medusa Group – Bolko Loft
Przemo Łukasik of the Medusa Group decided to make a home in one of the most atypical places - a coal mining complex ("White Eagle" in Bytom). The house on concrete pillars, hovering eight meters above the ground, is one of the most often cited examples of the revitalisation and adoption of post-industrial structures in Poland. In 2004 the Bolko Loft was nominated for the prestigious Mies van der Rohe award and received the 2nd prize in the Leonardo 2007 International Competition for Young Architects in Minsk. The trade publication Architektura-murator named it one of the 20 most important and iconic architectural projects in Poland constructed after 1989. The building is considered a trademark and manifesto of the Medusa Group, which specialises in the revitalisation of post-industrial properties.
Piotr Śmierzewski / HS99 – H9
Piotr Śmierzewski's private home is a lakefront property on the edges of the city of Koszalin. It boasts its own number - H9 - like all the properties built by the HS99 studio, headed by the architect. Its form is reminiscent of a brick container in the form of the letter "S", contrasting against the surrounding architecture built in a more traditional rural style. It represents the HS99 design credo, which is based on discipline and a rational spirit. "The Swiss don't keep designing a new watch from scratch. They work on it for centuries and improve upon it bit by bit", said the group in an interview with the Polityka weekly. Polityka awarded the group its own Architecture Award for the new site of the University of Silesia Library and their Scientific Information Centre and Academic Library (CINiBA ) in Katowice was named Building of the Year by Archdaily in 2012. Śmierzewski designed H9 in collaboration with Dariusz Herman.
Stefan Kuryłowicz – Something Old, Something New
The private home of the founders of one of Poland's biggest architectural firms - Kuryłowicz & Associates - is situated in the historic city of Kazimierz Dolny along the Vistula River. At first it inspired a considerable degree of controversy as the modernist form didn't fit in exactly with the city's quaint traditional landscape. And yet the structure, located a certain distance from the historic centre, does attest to local traditions of building in the area, referencing the light-coloured stone used to construct homes for centuries. As it "climbs the hill", the home of Ewa and Stefan Kuryłowicz is eco-friendly, heated using a pump deep in the earth.
Roman Rutkowski – Fonder with age
The architect and critic chose the Krzyki neighbourhood of Wrocław to build his minimalist home. Roman Rutkowski's project references on one hand the area's "hexagonal" structures which originated in the 1970s, and, on the other, its traditional suburban villas. The raw wooden exterior weathers and changes its character from year to year, set off by the raw interiors - concrete flooring and wood particle board on the walls and cieling.
Agnieszka Zając, Artur Toboła / GRID – Urban Stable
The structure is an unexpected addition to the otherwise traditional landscape of the historic Osobowice district in Wrocław. It's composed of two independent buildings adjoined by a wooden terrace - one a living space and the other a workspace. "The building is based on a prewar farm building we wanted to buy", says co-designer Agnieszka Zając. That connection is referenced in the materials used: wood, brick and plaster. It won the 23rd edition of the Piękny Wrocław architecture competition as the "Most Beautiful Single-family Home".
Robert Konieczny – Konieczny's Ark
The boat-shaped home teetering on a hill in the Beskid Mountains was designed by one of the most recognised, prize-winning firms in Poland - KWK Promes. The concrete building boasts two roofs - the second situated beneath, giving the impression that the house is floating above the valley. In practice, the upside-down effect facilitates the draining of water during rainfall. "The house is like a bridge" says its architect Robert Konieczny (who designed it in collaboration with Łukasz Marciniak). "The building touches the ground at a single point, the bedrooms are on the upper floor". The architect also built a snazzy home for his mother - the House with a Capsule (2004), which won first prize from SARP and the Grand Prix for Silesian Architecture of the Year 2006.
Anna Misiura, Łukasz Kabarowski / KMA Kabarowski Misiura Architekci – High-contrast House
The design duo built their dream home/studio in the countryside on the outskirts of Wrocław. Its form is based on the letter "L", with a minimalist white block contrasting against the darker panels of the lower façade. Another contrast comes at the rear, with the seclusion of the front exterior broken by wall-to-ceiling windows with a view of the garden.
Author: Agnieszka Sural, 2.12.2013. Translated by AMG 4.12.2013