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How to bring natural light into the interior? Urban villa designed by INOSTUDIO architects

Ola Kloc
15 of March '21
Technical data
Name: city villa
Location: Poland, Wroclaw
Studio: INOSTUDIO architekci
Authors: Magdalena Wolska, Zbigniew Gierczak
Cooperation: Monika Glowacka
Calendar: 2020/2021


254 m²

Thenarrow plot and its problematic location in relation to the sides of the world, the high buildings in the neighborhood and the surrounding trees limiting the access of natural light were quite a challenge for the architects from INOSTUDIO studio, who undertook the design of a single-family house for investors for whom the natural lighting of the interior was the most important.

minimalist block among villas

On a plot of land in Wroclaw surrounded by villas, the architects proposed a minimalist, three-story single-family house covered by a gabled roof. This seemingly simple block, in order to fulfill the investors' dream of natural interior illumination, was varied by a cutout running through the entire height of the building - from the opening in the roof that lets light in, to the rectangular atrium where a tree was planned to be planted.



© INOSTUDIO architects

The garage, located on the lowest, partially underground floor, is visually cut off by the white facades of the upper floors, thanks to which the main part of the house, although at first glance monolithic, acquires lightness. The minimalist facade of the building is decorated with glazing that emphasizes the entrance and light wooden cladding. The facade on the garden side, meanwhile, is almost entirely glazed - on the first floor through large sliding doors leading from the living room to the terrace, and on the first floor through windows and balcony doors.


cross sections

© INOSTUDIO architects

how to illuminate the interior?

Ola Kloc: What was the priority for investors?

Magdalena Wolska: For the investors, it was very important to obtain a building body with a minimalist appearance that fits well into the street. However, the priority was access of sunlight to the living space. The investors described the situation on the plot and the problem to be solved, which was important to them, as follows:

Direct access of natural light to the house is very important for us. The plot has an eastern exposure (garden from the east). On the southwest side, near the border of the plot, there is a tall villa, about fifteen meters high, which quite severely limits the amount of light entering the plot in the afternoon. In addition, there are tall trees on the west side, which obstruct access to natural light. In contrast, much more natural light is available on the upper floors. It is important for us to try to find a solution that will allow natural light into the living room in the afternoon.

So in the project we tried to find design measures that would respond to the requirements of the Investors and the problems of the plot.

The minimalistyczna street-side elevationminimalistyczna street-side elevationminimalistyczna street-side elevation

minimalist elevation from the street side

image: studiotiimo © INOSTUDIO architects

: The house will be built in a villa-like neighborhood, on a narrow plot of land where there is currently a flat-roofed, semi-detached house from the 1980s, Did the surroundings and the existing building influence the final shape of the new block, and how?

Magdalena: In the case of this project, the plot and its surroundings had a huge impact on the shape and appearance of the newly designed building. The existing building on the plot, a typical 1980s cube, was located between two beautiful villas with pitched roofs from the early twentieth century. With the agreement of the investor and the architect, a zoning decision was requested for a new building with a pitched roof, recognizing that a building in this shape, would better complement the frontage and fit in more with the surrounding development. The width of the plot also determined the shape of the building. Quite an extensive functional program of the Investors and a narrow plot imposed on us the shape of the house: narrow and long. However, the elongated shape of the building was varied by cut-outs in the body: an undercut entrance, a "hole in the roof" with an atrium and a hidden terrace carved in the roof, accessible from the Investors' bedroom.

The przeszklona elevation on the garden side elevationprzeszklona elevation on the garden side elevationprzeszklona elevation on the garden side elevation

glazed facade on the garden side elevation, on the side elevation, on the southwest side a vertical cutout was designed

vision: studiotiimo © INOSTUDIO architects

: You broke the minimalist, white block with wooden cladding, what effect did you want to achieve through this?

Magdalena: The house is kept in a minimalist style when it comes to its body, details and materials. The materials used on the facades and roof were intended to emphasize its restrained character. However, the choice of materials was also influenced by a typically practical design aspect, namely fire regulations, proximity to plot boundaries and neighboring buildings. The exterior materials, on the side of the building plot boundaries, had to be noncombustible, so we used white plaster on the facades and white sheet metal on the roof. However, to "insulate" the facades, where possible, we used wood cladding in a non-obvious beveled arrangement.

atrium surrounded by wooden claddingatrium surrounded by wooden claddingatrium surrounded by wooden cladding

atrium surrounded by wooden cladding

vision: studiotiimo © INOSTUDIO architects

: What was the most difficult part of this project?

Magdalena: The most difficult part of the project was solving the problem of illuminating the living space with western sunlight. So a large "hole in the roof" was designed on the southwest side, which on the lower floor turns into an atrium with greenery. This treatment allows one to catch the natural light available on the roof. Western sunlight can penetrate deep into the atrium, so that in the living room, which is in direct contact with the atrium, we have access to direct sunlight, but also indirect - reflected sunlight.

The przeszklone atrium is part of the living areaprzeszklone atrium is part of the living areaprzeszklone atrium is part of the living area

The glazed atrium is part of the living area

vision: studiotiimo © INOSTUDIO architects

: What are you most satisfied with?

Magdalena: We are very satisfied that with the compact body of the building, its proportions, height, narrow front elevation, we were able to fit into the street and existing buildings. And, of course, we are very pleased that we managed to solve the burning problem of the plot and, at the same time, of the building, that is, the daylighting of the house's living space on the west side.

Ola: Thank you for the interview.

Ola Kloc

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