Fancy ‘holiday-inspired’ Chorzów apartment block named BEST in Europe and the whole of Asia
Having already received a slew of awards, an apartment complex in Chorzów has gone a step further after being named the best residential project in Europe and Asia at the annual Eurasian awards.
Designed by the Katowice Franta Group, Villa Reden was the only Polish nominee to participate in the final stage of the awards and successfully staved off competition from projects in Israel and Italy to claim first place.
Chaired by the globally renowned Daniel Liebeskind, the jury included some of the greatest contemporary architects in the world, among them Doriana Fuksas, Eric Van Egeraat, Yosuke Hayano and Piero Lissoni.
In a statement published on social media, the Katowice-based architectural studio expressed their “shock and happiness” at receiving “the best gift in the world”.
Describing the award as the greatest accomplishment in their history, Franta Group can reflect on a year that has seen Villa Reden take the world’s design media by storm.
Prior to this latest accolade, the development has claimed honours at the Iconic Awards 2021, the DNA Paris Design Awards, the European Property Awards and the World Design Awards organized by The Architecture Community.
Explaining the success of the project, Maciej Franta, CEO and founder of the Franta Group, told TFN: “We’ve seen hundreds of thousands of apartments constructed across Poland these last few years, but speaking generally these were being bought and built as investments.
“With Villa Reden, we wanted to take a step back to the beginning and think more about the pleasures of living.”
Doing so, Franta and his team sought to identify just which aspects of life people derived the most enjoyment from.
“We wanted this apartment complex to be viewed as more than just an investment,” says Franta. “For that, we asked ourselves where and how do we get the most pleasure? From there we started thinking about holidays and vacations in the forests and the mountains. Primarily, we wanted to express those same feelings and channel them through this building.”
To meet that brief, generous balconies were seen as key. Franta said: “We were inspired by the kind of balconies you see in the Alps, and we wanted to enable residents to be able to reach out and touch the trees or to string up a hammock.”
Challenges, though, were ample, with the most prominent being the location itself.
“Context is crucial in architecture, and in this case it was definitely very unusual,” says Franta.
“On one side of Villa Reden you have a historic black, wooden church. On the other, there’s a concrete water facility. Then you have inter-war houses on another flank, and then finally concrete apartment blocks dating from the 1970s – and to top it all off, all of these elements are then interspersed by thick banks of trees.”
With such disparate but intriguing neighbours, Franta Group sought “to connect this harmony of differences and join them together in one central point.”
Blending in effortlessly with these surroundings, Villa Reden has slipped seamlessly into its environment through its use of consistent colouring and materials. Moreover, its irregular shape has also won plaudits for the manner in which it has allowed the structure to be absorbed by nature.
“I think we’ve connected well to the greenery around us,” says Franta, “and the simplicity of the building set against the trees has created a contrast that works perfectly.
“Looking at it from the outside, people aren’t always sure if this isn’t actually a small boutique hotel, and again I think that shows we were successful in creating something other than a standard residential block.”
Defined by its irregular polygonal shape, the form of Villa Reden was specifically adapted so as to ensure the largest tree in the vicinity would not be cut down.
Heavily influenced also by the rounded architecture of the inter-war modernist era, the result has been a spectacular building that feels emphatically organic and coherent.
Nonetheless, as boundary-pushing as the project was from the outset, the ensuing international publicity has proved a pleasant surprise.
“We work tremendously hard to stand out from others,” says Franta, “but even so we only really started to realize that we were onto something really different when construction first began.
“When you’re looking at computerized images it’s hard to imagine what something will look like, so it was only when Villa Reden began going up that we figured we should enter into some competitions. Even so, although we suspected we might get a few distinctions, never did we dream that we’d win seven first prizes!