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What should a modern shelter look like?

26 of November '21
Technical data
Type: First degree thesis
Year of defense: 2020
Name: Home of Man. Student hostel in Beskid Zywiec.
Author: Dawid Roszkowski
Wydział Architektury Politechniki Warszawskiej

Maciej Miłobędzki

The architecture of mountain refuges requires above all dexterity in composing in harmony with nature. Limiting to the minimum the space used, matching the surroundings, but also the local culture and building traditions. An attempt to reconcile these factors was made by Dawid Roszkowski in his thesis.

"Home of a Man. A student hostel in Beskid Zywiecki" is the subject of the thesis by Dawid Roszkowski, a graduate of architecture at Warsaw University of Technology. The author's diploma received an honorable mention in the "Diploma of the Year of the Warsaw Branch of SARP" competition for his engineering work.

Interior visualization

© Dawid Roszkowski

The designed building would be used as a mountain hostel located in the Szczytkówka glade in Beskid Żywiecki. "Man's House" would stand on the site of a shelter destroyed by fire. The author's main goal was to create an architecture that would be in relationship with its surroundings, while at the same time referring to the earlier building. At the same time, it was to be a building inspired by but not recreated.


In his design of the shelter, the author refers to the system of "pociyni" - extensions added to the building, usually used for storing fuel and farm equipment. The designed shelter included four symmetrical wings, serving as studios, wood storage or sanitary facilities. The hierarchy of the rooms was reflected in an interesting way - the largest were placed in the most important places, allowing observation of the landscape.

plan of the hostel

© Dawid Roszkowski

It was equally important for the architect to use traditional materials - hewn wood and tar covering the walls. A stone pedestal was also used, a sign of the identity of the old shelter.

The main element of the project, defining its form and relationship with the landscape, is the roof, whose proportions in relation to the walls, as well as the widely overhanging eaves, try to shape the image of squat, horizontal architecture, "blending into the ground." The central keystone of the composition of the mass is the skylight of the inner core, piercing the truss, leading out the ducts, smoke and ventilation. The material covering the roof is tar paper, building, in combination with classical gutters, a rational and pragmatic character of the designed shelter, says the author, Dawid Roszkowski.


The architect, designing the "House of Man," refers to the traditional Wallachian pattern of interior design, based on the assumptions of the so-called "black chamber" - a space in the center opening upward with a chimney outlet. It is also the place of the largest glazing in the chalet. The daily activities of the householders are concentrated in this room. A large table has been placed in the middle of the building to serve as a place for integration of the house users.

visualization of the shelter - detail

© Dawid Roszkowski

The interiors are shaped by screen sequences of walls, separating zones for consumption, spending and sleeping. The layout of the rooms has been adapted to the thermal gradation of the space - concentrating the most heat in the center of the building.

The character of the interiors is shaped by screen wall sequences, gently separating the zones of eating together, spending time and sleeping. The communication space forms the boundary between the tectonics of the central monolith and the wooden shell covering it. The circuitous nature of the interior layout translates into an overall climate shaping strategy, acting on the principle of thermal gradation of successive temperature zones. The space of the circulation circuit between the heated central space and the outer wall is - like the attic - an air void separating the external "cold" zone from the heating core mantle," says the architect about the interior concept.

interior visualization

© Dawid Roszkowski

Questions about the shelter are answered by the author - Dawid Roszkowski.

Wiktor Bochenek: Where did the idea for such a project come from?

Dawid Roszkowski: The issue of a mountain chalet is a fascinating topic, as it seems to combine many issues of particular interest to an architect. First - as in few typologies, the non-commercial, communal function allows the search for fundamental values in shaping the basic spaces of habitation - the small scale of the project, in turn, provides an opportunity for attention to detail, material and other fundamental elements of the architectural workshop. Secondly - the mountain landscape is a kind of extraordinarily strong context, at which architecture becomes a mere accessory in the space of all-encompassing nature. Designing in such a place therefore requires the development of an aesthetic context while maintaining modesty of form and simplicity. Finally - thirdly - with the function of a hostel, its relationship with art and travel culture becomes inextricably apparent - there seems to be a paradox in this aspect - the less we experience nature physically, the more it begins to appear as an idea and value in itself. Individual tourism, focused on the possibility of direct contact with the mountains is increasingly placed above mass consumer tourism, which relies on the commodification of sights and experiences. This gives hope for a return to the now somewhat lost original ideas of hiking, in which direct contact with nature is placed above comfort and luxury.

cross section of the hostel

© Dawid Roszkowski

Wiktor Bochenek: To what extent is it creation versus reproduction? Designing in such conditions requires a proper dialogue with the local culture. How did you conduct it?

Dawid Roszkowski: The designed shelter was placed partially on the former foundations, thus continuing the above-mentioned assumptions, at the same time recalling the presence of the former burned building. The essence of my intervention was to propose solutions that in their assumptions will continue the same logic that guided the builders of vernacular buildings, both in terms of the material used and the principle of shaping the form and construction. On the other hand, I believe that architecture is a kind of testimony to the times in which it is created, so it should not be reduced to reproducing and unreflectively copying solutions and forms from the past. In the project presented here, I tried to express the above ideas, while trying to maintain humility and respect towards the place where it is created.

Wiktor Bochenek: What do you consider to be the most important when designing objects introduced into the natural landscape?

Dawid Roszkowski: I know I'll duplicate a rather obvious answer to this question - each space in the landscape has individual characteristics that are worth preserving, or extracting. Respect for a place, in my opinion, should therefore be expressed through the mutual relationship of architecture and context, a relationship that does not put either of the above above above the other. A deep understanding of this relationship is particularly evident in the multi-level specificity of vernacular construction, whose characteristic both of the alphabet of form and structure and of the relationship of space, material and construction seems to harmonize perfectly with the surrounding nature. These houses are full of pragmatism, both in terms of their forms and their spaces - each spatial decision resulted from the specific needs of their users, while the way materials are used is a testament to the full understanding of them by their builders. The extraordinary wisdom and simplicity contained in this architecture are, in my opinion, the best answer to the given context - an answer that I try to strive for in my projects as well.

Wiktor Bochenek: Thank you for the interview!

Wiktor Bochenek

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