The Warsaw district of Żoliborz is almost entirely an urban conservation area, including buildings which are not listed, built after 1939. Whoever plans to build anything here is bound to face difficulties on the part of both the controlling administration and the neighbours, often wary of new investments or even minor changes to existing buildings and their surroundings. A half of a semi - detached house recently inherited by a couple with three children, is at first sight an archetypal icon of a house with a simplified body characteristic of the co - operative housing of the 1950s, with perfect proportions and a gabled roof. It is not standard, boring architecture, even its location is unusual – the other half of the semi does not adjoin it with its side but rather with its back, the building entering a slope which runs alongside the street. It emphasises the scenic value of its elevated front facade, especially when seen from the long perspective of the perpendicular street.
The investors had a problem with finding an architect – they needed an extension of a mere 35 square metres (allowed by the development plan), which for most designersmeant little work on the one hand, but an unpredictable amount of time wasted on applying for permissions in authority offices on the other. On accepting the commission, I suggested using the potential of the place by giving the extension the character of a stage by means of a simple solid structure, resembling an outward - directed megaphone whose wider end opens to glazed rooms with two narrow galleries. The galleries and rooms situated behind them – a loggia, dining room and upper – floor bedroom – could be closed with folding curtains. The side walls have practically no openings except for the descent to the garden from the loggia, which is an outer connector between the dining room and the salon. After dismantling the stairs leading from the street to the elevated ground floor, the entrance to the building was now on the level of the former cellar. The extension is blended with the existing building by simple means like e.g. new tin trimming, uniform windows and mineral plasterwork on the outer walls. The question is: till what extent the inhabitants will be open to the street life outside?
architecture / autor: Jakub Szczęsny
structural design: TKM Karolak