When it came to architect Robert Konieczny of “Robert Konieczny -- KWK Promes” designing his family home on a verdant hillside near the village of Brenna in southern Poland, he unwittingly constructed a unique and thoroughly modern structure that seemed to be inspired by a very old-fashioned one -- the ark. However, as he underscores in the video of its construction, "That was entirely consequential."
What isn't at all consequential are the various construction and design elements that were incorporated into the building's construction (which was completed in 2014). They are all the results of careful problem-solving, as building a home on the side of a hill -- and a working pasture -- isn't a task to take on without careful consideration of the practical, daily challenges such a tricky, albeit beautiful, location affords.
Neither is it left entirely up to the architect: "My wife opposed the idea of a one storey house; it was all about providing a sense of security," he says of her reaction to his initial plans. Not to be deterred, Robert merely put his thinking cap on and came up with a unique solution; to pivot the entire building so that only one corner was actually in close contact with the ground level. The rest of the home rests away from the hillside, reaching the full height of a first floor dwelling, on the far side, which houses the bedrooms.
The stunning views were, naturally, one of the determining factors in beginning the project; the initial idea was that the house would envelop them, and even, show the views off as if in a frame. And the wide window walls, stretching out on either side of the building, do just that. That being said, this design detail brought up the valid issue of safety for Robert's wife. The problem was solved through a unique, 10 meter long, retractable wall that could slide into place in front of the windows like a shutter when needed, as well as a “drawbridge” that could be pulled up or let down, almost reminiscent of a real boat!
Living on a green hillside seems ideal until of course it starts to rain. This being Poland, it tends to do that a lot, hence the green hillside. The result is that all of that lovely and fertile soil turns to mud, which just can't help but do its thing… slide down said hillside. The problem-solving solution to that predicament? To think of the house as a sort of "bridge" resting on stilts which allow the free flow of any excess water (and mud) that feels the need to go surfing down the incline.
Meanwhile, thanks to the building's poured concrete shell and closed-cell-structure foam insulation -- which was left untreated to become an interesting, textural element on the inside walls -- the house (and all its occupants) remain cozy and dry no matter the degree of precipitation. The sloping "inverted roof," along the base which mirrors the home's real roof above, was also added in order to add a "rigidity to the building" thanks to the tension and structural support it provides to the construction.
The surrounding pastoral fields are embraced as the house's ideal garden landscaping. Hence, the final touch to this thoroughly modern ark have to be the grazing horses, sheep, cows -- and even slinky foxes -- that Robert encourages to come and "mow" the garden grass directly outside the wide windows. After all, an ark just isn't an ark without an accompanying flock of animals.
Konieczny's Ark © Robert Konieczny KWK Promes.