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Private villa the Ark

KWK Promes Robert Konieczny

Private villa the Ark
By Michael Webb -

Another debut in 1999 was KWK Promes office in Katowice, which is headed by Robert Konieczny. The 10-person office is best-known for its single-family houses, but it has also designed public buildings, offices, multiple housing and other projects across the country. The most important of these is the award-winning Dialogue Centre at Solidarity Square in Szczecin. Like Koszalin, this Hanseatic port city was part of Germany until 1945 and, after the remaining inhabitants had been deported, the ruins were repopulated with Poles from the east. In 1970, protesting workers were massacred by the police on this site, and the goal of the project was to shape a space that fuses memory and everyday activities, from strolling to skateboarding. A semi-sunken museum of the city’s history and struggle for freedom is wrapped by a sloped public plaza, and entered at the north-east corner. A ramp leads down from the north-west corner, where the museum disappears beneath the paving. Across the street from this invisible presence are the spiky white roofs of the new Philharmonic Hall, which won the 2014 Mies van der Rohe Award. All around are reconstructed church towers and civic buildings: a moving demonstration of how a city can regain its soul. In the rolling hills of southern Poland, an hour’s drive from Katowice, Konieczny has designed a weekend house for his family, which he calls The Ark. When the shutters are drawn, the pitched roof and recessed base of this concrete monolith do evoke a vessel that has come to rest on a gently sloping meadow. The architect set his bar of living and sleeping spaces on three wedges to minimize the foundations and allow rain water and snow melt to pass freely beneath as though this were a bridge. To prevent unauthorized access, he rotated the bar so that it can be entered from only one corner, across a flap that is lowered to the ground like a gangplank. When the shutters slide open the whole house and a recessed terrace open up to...

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