Warsaw architects wow with ‘fairytale cave house’ inspired by Kraków’s Wawel dragon
Influenced by tales of ‘the Wawel dragon’, a private house on the outskirts of Kraków stands to become one of Poland’s most ecological residences whilst simultaneously incorporating aspects of local myth and history into its design.
The work of the critically acclaimed, Kraków-based BXB Studio, the project has been aptly titled ‘the Cave House’ and will be built as if to hover over a wooded hollow through which the main entrance will be accessed via a gently curling stairwell.
It will be this space that most directly references Wawel’s legendary dragon, a fire-breathing beast that once resided in a den underneath Wawel Hill.
However, other nods to the city’s mascot will be found via dynamically-laid bricks on the southern façade that will be patterned to evoke associations with the dragon’s scales.
Moreover, this use of brick will similarly refer to the city’s rich architectural traditions, not least the kind of brickwork found adorning the fortifications of Wawel Hill itself.
To be constructed near the Wolski Forest, a leafy area offering sweeping views of downtown Kraków, its entrance will spiral from a shaded forest landscape cut through a natural green route under the building and “overhanging an undulating slope that will hide underground floors”.
Known as ‘the Cave’, it is this central area that will act as a static ballast for the rest of the building as well as the structural basis for the internal stairs.
Filtered by the Cave’s microclimate, air will be circulated inside through an external chimney that has been designed to suck air from the outside to support the house’s natural ventilation.
According to Bogusław Barnaś, the studio’s founder, this will resemble “a large, contemporary spatial sculpture that will support a representative staircase leading to the first floor, and then, to a multi-hipped, zig-zag green roof.”
Covered with a flowery meadow, and boasting also an observation deck, this biologically active rooftop will boast a jacuzzi, outdoor kitchen and a discreetly hidden solar farm.
“We are dealing with a multi-storey arrangement of green areas,” Barnaś said, adding that road infrastructure and garages will also be hidden underground so as to emphasize the natural glory of the surroundings.
According to Barnaś, these environmental considerations were at the vanguard of the design process. He said: “This is a building whose unique and innovative design is a derivative of ecological, functional and spatial ideas and the principles of the so-called human-centric biophilic design, i.e. architecture focused on human health and well-being.
“These two issues, modern design and eco elements, become an inseparable, coherent unity here. Moreover, they refer to local traditions, the history of the place, the nature of the surrounding landscape and the principles of sustainable development.”
Mindful of function, aesthetics, ergonomics and energy efficiency, it is a project that seeks to harmoniously blend 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 maximising the natural footprint of the plot.
Equipped with the latest intelligent home solutions, these will include irrigation and rainwater utilisation systems, heat pumps, natural ventilation and the use of solar energy.
Barnaś said: “Through a rational architectural structure the building interacts with the environment, the direction of the world and flora and fauna.”
Set to become one of the country’s most innovative residences, and certain to achieve global recognition, neither will it be short on luxury touches.
The living area, for instance, will be defined by its modernist, fully-glazed interior. The first floor, meanwhile, will be formed from smaller rooms the interiors of which will have a cottage-style aesthetic complete with gabled roof vaults.
Furthermore, the Cave area will have surreal glazing which has already been christened ‘the Dragon’s Eye’.
Barnaś said: “It optically connects the space of the garden with the internal swimming pool – this fairy-tale, surreal skylight will reflect in the mirror surface of the soffit, which will multiply the spatial and visual effect of the mysterious forest cave.”