Architectural studio founded in 1999 by Robert Konieczny and Marlena Wolnik in Katowice.
One of the studio’s earliest designs was for the competition for the Temple of Divine Providence, and was awarded third place (2000). The architects proposed an ascetic, conical tent-like structure with openings in the surface, which were assigned important dates from Polish history. The light coming through the holes and dispersed by the prism at the top of the cone (exactly on the day of the anniversary) would create a rainbow inside.
The formal simplicity and original, consistently implemented idea visible in the design of the temple characterise other projects by the studio as well. An example would be the project for the expansion of a building belonging to the MM Petro company (from 2004-2005). The inspiration for the headquarters of the company operating on the fuel market came from benzene, an eco-friendly fuel additive. The hexagonal cross-section of the building refers to the model of this compound. The project foresaw gradual upward elongation of the front of the existing building. Its lower part would be discontinued, creating the effect of ‘ascent’ from the ground. The glass façade is deeply recessed, allowing for the placing of a canopy marking the entrance. The long shape of the building and the cut bottom make it look like a huge pipe with a flowing fluid. This effect, like the cross-section of the building, is supposed to correspond to the profile of the company.
KWK Promes specialises in residential architecture. One of their earliest projects of this type was a single-family house in Katowice (designed in 1997, constucted in 2000). The plot was crisscrossed by veins of water, so the house had to stand on the ‘healthy’ part of it, and the rest of the estate was planned as a garden. This determined the triangular plan of the building. Its outline resembles the form of a hand protecting a flame – a domestic fireplace.
In 2002 the architects completed another project in Katowice – the House from the Silesian Land. The land where it was designed is characterised by tectonic faults. The existence of such a risk provided inspiration for the shape of the house, which looks like uplifted layers of soil. This project was followed by House with a Capsule created in Ruda Śląska in 2004. It is laid out on a square plan with a capsule in the middle incorporating a bathroom, kitchen, pantry and a fireplace. Next to the entrances there are nets full of wood, which have both a decorative and a utilitarian function (they hold the heating material for the fireplace).
An important and characteristic feature of the houses designed by KWK Promes is the lack of clear boundaries between interior and exterior space. An example of a project that integrates these areas is the OUTrial House in Książenice near Warsaw, completed in 2007. Its most outstanding feature is the unusual atrium, which, instead of an inner courtyard, constitutes a grass roof. As in the case of an atrium, it can only be entered from inside the house – the roof is connected to the living room through a ramp. At the same time it serves as an outdoor garden, smoothly incorporated into the rest of the building. The structure is simple and minimalist, and the white plaster walls are glazed with large windows, bringing plenty of light inside. Due to the modest colours, what stands out is the shape of the house, which is the result of the play with architectural types characteristic of the studio.
Equally original solutions have been developed for the Open House in Żory (finished in 2005). The main objectives of the project were to make reference to the brick house belonging to the investor, which had stood on the site, and to increase the living space that had previously been available. Therefore, the new building was built within the outline of the former, and the extra space was achieved by arranging the rooms in a manner reminiscent of open drawers of a chest allocated to the household members and adapted to their individual needs. The building was finished with plywood and clinker brick, alluding to the previous home of the owners.
As with other projects by KWK Promes, the Safe House near Warsaw, completed in 2008, was designed to closely match to the requirements of the customer. In that case, the main request was to create a space, which gave a sense of security. The fences and the walls were made of grey impregnated plywood. Windows were placed only on the side walls; the façade is devoid of them. They are controlled electronically, so that the inhabitants can cover them with plywood panels, creating an integral whole with no openings. Thanks to these measures the building gives the impression of an armoured fortress, clearly fenced off from the surrounding environment.
The sophisticated formal experiments and innovative solutions testify to the quality of the designs by KWK Promes. Most importantly, each of them is a direct and logical result of a keynote idea accompanying the project, as well as the investor’s wishes. For the architects from Katowice the creation of functional forms is not an empty overused slogan, but a consistently applied principle of design.
As Robert Konieczny says:
Good design begins with a keynote, a good, logical idea, carried out consistently until the final touches to the drawings have been put. (...) The function, form, design, material solutions and details should all be derived from this idea. (...) It is important to minimise, synthesise, get rid of unnecessary items, which obscure the original idea.