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By The Way House

A Ribbon as Wrapper

KWK Promes Robert Konieczny

The best houses are the product of a dialogue between clients who have a clear idea of what they want and architects who find creative ways to satisfy those needs. In Poland, that is still something of a novelty. For decades, most people were assigned a minimum of space in shoddily built apartment blocks. Much has been achieved in the past 20 years, but only a privileged few can commission an architect to design their living space. So Robert Konieczny was surprised to receive a call out of the blue in 2000, just after establishing his firm, KWK Promes, in Katowice. As the architect recalls, “my private number rang and the caller said: ‘Mr Robert, I have a beautiful plot and I want you to build a very cool thing there. I invite you to see it and I will be happy to pay as much as you wish for your time. If we cannot come to an agreement, you can keep the money; if we decide to cooperate we will treat it as an advance’.” For a fledgling practitioner, who had yet to realize his bold ideas it was an irresistible offer, and Konieczny agreed to meet. The caller was a developer who had bought a large riverfront plot that sloped down to a river. “It was a foggy day and the trees and water were shrouded in mystery,” says Konieczny, “I got excited at the idea of positioning the house on an escarpment overlooking the entire site, and we adjourned to the owner’s apartment, which had a similar view.” There the difficulties began. The client began sketching a house that would be an exact replica of his apartment, with its conventional layout and banal façade, leaving the architect no room for invention. He insisted that he was entirely happy with what he had, and simply wanted to exchange this space for a replica, raising the living room off the ground to provide an added level of security. Konieczny was about to take his fee and bow out, when inspiration struck. He realized that there would need to be a drive...

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