Poland continues scooping international awards for jaw-dropping architectural designs
Selected by what many describe as ‘the Oscars of Architecture’, staff at the Warsaw-based 77STUDIOarchitectury are celebrating after their 35.35 project was recognised by the prestigious European Property Awards.
Awarded in the ‘single residence Poland’ category, the luxury house will now advance to the next stage of the competition and will be judged in February against its European contemporaries.
Gazing over the Wisla River, the stunning house was constructed so as to slot seamlessly into the surrounding rural landscape. Topped with a grass roof, and almost disappearing into a hunched fold of land, the project has already been widely praised for the harmonious way it blends with nature.
However, neither is it short of luxury trimmings, with the residence owing its name – 35.35 – to the infinity pool that has been built precisely 35.35 metres over the nearby river.
Yet as striking as this glass-fronted wonder is, it’s just one example of the residences that are setting an entirely new European benchmark. At a time when an increasing number of Polish developers and architects are coming under scrutiny for their anonymous, and almost dehumanising concepts, another wave of architects are providing a counter-balance thanks to their often pioneering projects.
In this respect, few studios have been more prominent in leading this revolution than Kraków’s BXB. Founded by Bogusław Barnaś in 2009, the studio’s lead architect has since been named as one of world’s best young architectural talents by Wallpaper* and won a string of awards to his name.
Among these were AMP’s ‘project of the year’ for a barn conversion modestly titled ‘The Polish Farmhouse’.
Marrying modern design principles to rustic heritage, it was the vision of Barnaś that saw five tumbledown buildings saved from demolition and transformed into an award-winning property.
“When creating the individual barns of The Polish Farmhouse, we were guided primarily by the interplay of light and shadow, terrain, existing greenery and infrastructure,” Barnaś told TFN.
“The client understood the power of architecture. He recognized that quality doesn’t mean loud and ostentatious statements, and the end result was a house that has a purity and depth to it that feels comforting and calm.”
Also going viral, ‘The Lesser Polish Eaves Cottage’ (named in 2021 at the Global Architecture & Design Awards as ‘the world’s best private residence’), similarly fused traditional influences inspired by the scenic village of Lanckorona with dynamic, stylistic accents aimed at maximising the property’s mountain views.
But perhaps trumping all of these prior projects is BXB’s ‘Cave House’, an ecologically-minded residence that is to be built as if to hover over a wooded hollow through which the main entrance will be accessed.
Inspired by the legend of the Wawel Dragon, and topped by a flowery meadow, it stands to become one of the continent’s most innovative dwellings - mindful of function, aesthetics, ergonomics and energy efficiency, it is a project that seeks to mix the end user experience with the need to protect the planet.
As such, even the creation of a below-ground car tunnel was planned to negate the need to clear snow in winter whilst also increasing the natural footprint of the plot.
Neither have other studios been slow off-the-mark when embracing original solutions.
Hailed by the style bible Wallpaper* as among the ’50 Most Electrifying Young Studios in the World’, Mobius have also earned international acclaim for a raft of houses such as the 400 sq/m Circle Wood just outside of Warsaw.
Built around a tree, it’s arguably among the planet’s best examples of how nature can be integrated to complement luxury architecture.
Likewise, the studio’s Dune house, a magnificent 1,500 sq/m property on the banks of the River Narew, was recently named at the European Property Awards as the ‘Best Single Family Residence’, a title credited to the effortless way this Bond-like structure was created so as to nestle into the undulating fields.
“The direct and non-stereotypical designs of the studio allow for the implementation of spaces that reflect the individual characteristics of clients and their lifestyle and desires,” explain the studio. “Each project is characterised by an original approach to shaped architecture, the form of which is an expression of emotions that result from relationships with people, place and nature.”
This symbiotic relationship echoes strongly throughout the principle philosophies of Poland’s more modern-minded studios, and is amply reflected by the international success of ‘From The Garden House’ by Robert Konieczny’s KWP Promes.
“In this case the owner of the land came to KWK Promes with a garden design already at an advanced stage of execution, the only thing missing was a house because the client wanted to have a beautiful garden right away,” says Konieczny.
“Usually it happens in reverse order. In the beginning, you make a project, build a house, and finally create a garden. In this case, it was completely different. But as crazy as it seemed, we took on the challenge.”
Appreciated by Archello, who named it as one of their top international projects of 2021, the house has since become a common sight on design portals eager to heap praise on Konieczny’s style.
Yet whilst connecting to the natural world seems almost an obvious step in the countryside, Polish architects have also demonstrated that cities, too, can also do the same.
In this regard, Katowice’s Franta Group have led the line, not least with their much-awarded Villa Reden. Set in Chorzów, this upscale, low-lying apartment building has been singled out for the way it has aligned itself to nature.
“We wanted this apartment complex to be viewed as more than just an investment,” says Maciej 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.
“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.”
Astonishingly, this project though stands to be usurped by Franta’s latest work, the Żorro tower block in Żory. Currently under construction, its design promises to reimagine the aesthetics of the faceless apartment blocks the town is known for by slashing the typical cuboidal form to instead present a structure consisting of stepped-like terraces filled with cascading greenery.
Rooted in ecological awareness, the plans have been made with not just visual aesthetics in mind, but also environmental concerns. Cancelling the need for air-conditioning by providing ample shade and protection against sunlight, and creating their own micro-climate through the sheer number of balcony gardens, Żorro promises to be one more Polish effort that will give the architectural world pause for thought.