A client's stubbornness and an architect's creativity have been reconciled in the form of a truly unique home in central Poland. The By The Way house is born out a landowner's wish to build an adaptation of his existing home, which the architect saw as rather ugly so he decided to build it inside a looping driveway to conceal it from view.
Founder of KWK Promes Robert Konieczny is no stranger to left-field thinking. His previous creations include a superhero-like home with a subterranean car tunnel underneath, and an underground museum topped by an undulating public space, declared the World Building of the Year at the 2016 World Architecture Festival.
The By The Way project began in 2008, when the owner of a plot of land by a river approached Konieczny to build a new home on the site. During that first meeting, as the client began sketching out what he wanted the house to look like, Konieczny noticed that he was simply drawing his existing apartment, in which they happened to be sitting.
"It got worse, he showed me a catalogue with some terrible examples of architecture, saying that this house should look like this," says Konieczny.
The architect gently suggested that the owner look for somebody else to redesign the home, but the owner was determined to get his man. After some back and forth it became clear the owner wouldn't budge on how he wanted his home to look, so Konieczny and his team came up with a solution.
"We thought, since we have to plan a driveway to the house anyway, let's wrap this ugly building, which is disconnected from the garden, with a way," he says. "Then let's lead the way from the first floor down to the garden."
The result is a ribbon-like track that begins as a driveway at the top of the property. It winds through an orchard and down to the house, where it turns upwards 90 degrees and becomes a wall. It then bends back over the house and around it again, enclosing the first floor inside a kind of double loop-the-loop.
Out the back, the way continues as a balcony overlooking the river and then gently slopes downwards and into a path that winds through the trees and down to the riverbank. This entire way presents visually as a single strand, but is technically made of different materials, with light concrete used for the driveway, a light membrane for the roof, and a rougher, grippier concrete for the steeper pathway down the bottom.
The enclosed first floor is the primary living space and sits above the treetops to offer clear views of the river and hillsides. Fault lines in the ceiling from the folded band conceal lighting elements, ventilation and air conditioning systems, with the interior deliberately kept minimalist to avoid distracting from the splendid surrounds.
The ground floor beneath is home to a garage, gym and guest rooms. And because it sits below the encompassing arms of the loop, the architects were able to use glass for the walls to maximize light and the connection with the garden. The interior spaces are separated with dark wooden wall panels, chosen for the contrast they create with the bright, white concrete.
You can hear from Konieczny and more on how the By The Way house came to be in the video below.
Source: KWK Promes
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