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More than the sum of the components

27 of July '21

From the 10/2018 issue of A&B: presentation of the artists' home and studio

On adjacent plots of land enclosing a quiet street in a residential neighborhood of Krakow, two buildings were constructed for the artist couple and their children: a residential house and a studio. They open directly onto the Malopolska landscape, above the fields adjacent to the back border of the plots.

Architecture is a field that combines many seemingly contradictory elements. On the one hand, without engineering genius, there would be no technologies to realize the boldest visions of designers, on the other hand, without a touch of madness and understanding the world through the prism of beauty, the achievements of previous generations and contemporary realizations would be completely soulless. However, it is not easy to come to terms with the idea that the artistic element would disappear irrevocably from this field. It is even more difficult to imagine a world without visual arts.

For the adequate development of artistic creativity, however, certain conditions are needed. It is not about the predisposition of the author, his sensitivity, life experience, empathy, but the physical and literal possibilities provided by the space, available media or even the time conditions necessary to experience the work. Yes, for true genius there are no limits, and difficult material, life or even psychological circumstances sometimes favor the creation of groundbreaking, unorthodox and deeply moving works. And so Michelangelo carved David from a damaged block of marble, while his detachment from the outside world and lack of a potential audience did not prevent him from creating one of the most controversial series of paintings on the walls of the now-defunct House of the Deaf. At a time when the institution of patronage is being replaced by sponsorship, the artist must take care of the conditions suitable for creation on his own, not limiting his abilities.

Photo: Jakub Certowicz

An example of the fact that such conditions can be created in Polish reality is the realization by Piotr Brzoza in one of the quieter districts of Cracow. On the edge of an intimate street lined with single-family houses, two buildings were designed to house, respectively, a residential area (the building on the western of the twin plots) and a studio for a couple of artists and their children.

Although the buildings are separate and technically independent of each other, it is evident that the structures interact with each other and form a coherent, thoughtful composition. The disconnectedness of these components is emphasized by the geometric dissimilarity and material distinction of the facades - the "brutal" finish of the studio and the more subdued in expression gray plaster of the house. It is impossible not to notice, in addition to the obvious functional division, a certain metaphorical value of such a distinction, suggesting the exuberance of the creative process and the tranquility with which a house should undoubtedly be associated.

Photo: Jakub Certowicz

The backdrop for this unusual layout is a striking view of the slope to the north of the project and rich greenery contrasting with the grays of the cubic elements. Unique and very telling is the openness of the entire layout, so unusual for domestic residential (and non-residential) development, often enclosed by appropriately repulsive fences. The impression created by such "hospitality" is simply unprecedented, especially when the development is located in such an interesting space.

As the author himself noted, the aforementioned view is "the greatest asset of the place where the buildings were built, it is naturally a leading theme in the organization of its interiors and elevations." This thought was consistently used in the design process, and both buildings are, as far as was reasonable and possible, open to the environment, which almost enters the interiors, in a varied but very conscious way. The treatment of the windows as picture frames, particularly striking because they are made of wood, seems particularly interesting in this context. They have been framed with great care: they are of varying size and proportion, and emphasize the artistic passion of the residents.

Photo: Jakub Certowicz

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