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What should a city house in Warsaw be like?

Wiktor Bochenek
08 of December '21
Technical data
Type: First degree thesis
Year of defense: 2020
Name: Urban home in Warsaw. The search for an open model of residence
Author: Hubert Przybyszewski

Maciej Miłobędzki

Incorporating new architectural solutions into the reconstructed space of Warsaw requires, above all, dexterity in designing in harmony with the surroundings. The reconstructed buildings of the Śródmieście Północ district were Hubert Przybyszewski's reference.

" UrbanHome in Warsaw. The search for an open model of habitation" was the subject of a thesis by Hubert Przybyszewski, an architecture student at the Warsaw University of Technology. The author's diploma won an award in the competition "Diploma of the year of the Warsaw branch of SARP" for engineering work.

The municipal house designed by Hubert Przybyszewski was located at 10 Aleksandra Fredry Street, on a plot adjacent to the Saxon Garden, 19th century townhouses and the National Theater. The building was intended to be a development of the street and not to decompose the street. The environment played a direct influence on the design.

drawing taking into account the structure of the urban fabric with the newly designed building

© HubertPrzybyszewski


The heart of each apartment in the designed townhouse is the central hall, from which six doorways leading to further rooms emerge. In addition to becoming a grand entrance, the hall, due to its size, can be used, among other things, for dining rooms. An important goal set by the architect in designing the layout of the apartments having a hall was to arrange the rooms in such a way that they direct users from the very entrance to the view.

interior projection of the designed apartments

© HubertPrzybyszewski

The author, Hubert Przybyszewski, talks about the project itself

Wiktor Bochenek: Where did the idea for such a topic for an engineering thesis come from?

Hubert Przybyszewski: Actually, I have always been interested in the architecture of habitation. It is the closest to man and responds to his basic needs. It seems to me that the role of the home or place of residence, is still important for each of us. However, I was keen to ensure that the premises created were unconventional and did not have the only assigned function. The search for new forms in relation to different pages of architectural history is a response to the phenomenon of constant repetition of the same - ineffective and unattractive - patterns in shaping projections. A separate, but strongly related issue is the city in the broadest sense. The various elements within it affect how such a complex and living structure works. Studying the relationship between these elements and the possible effects, in addition to simply being an interesting process, can ultimately be the answer to how our cities can be improved. Housing is a very good and graceful material in this regard, not least because it is the basic building block of urban settlements. The Warsaw theme also played a key role here. The choice of the capital was related both to the fact that it is my hometown and I am very connected with it, but also by the fact that it is an extremely complex and interesting place with great potential.

visualization of the facade

© HubertPrzybyszewski

Wiktor Bochenek: Thelocation is very important for this project - what was the process of designing this building like?

Hubert Przybyszewski: The whole process unfolded into two main parts: the context and the idea of the town house itself. They were developed in parallel and overlapped with each other. In the case of the Alexander Fredro Street area, the question of context, both urban, architectural and historical, was insanely important. Therefore, during this time I collected quite a large collection of archival photos, engravings and plans. The wounds in this place, unhealed to this day, had to be filled with something, and the question arose as to what this binder should be, what material it should be made of and what character it should have, so that the rest of the organism would accept the new element as well as possible.

The second part was the work on the clou of this project, namely the residential floors. The shape of the plot and the neighborhood offering extremely attractive frames - that is, the elements of the aforementioned context - directly influenced the shaping of the units. I wanted, upon entering them, to see what is most important in this location, namely the Saski Garden. In this way, the premises were based on a spine nested on a viewing axis leading directly from the front door.

Both these parts of the work were connected by the exploration phase, which, due to the unusual conditions of the plot, focused mainly on buildings similar in typology to income-producing, urban houses. During this research, a considerable amount of analysis of the compositional arrangements of the projections was created, which later provided a lot of interesting information and conclusions.

cross-section taking into account the placement of the building in the urban tissue

© HubertPrzybyszewski

Wiktor Bochenek: What functions does this building perform?

Hubert Przybyszewski: As befits a real city house, there is not just one function here. Of course, there are mainly premises here that can be apartments, but their structure, the format of the rooms and the relationship between them are conducive to arranging in such premises, for example, a design studio or a law office. I have suggested apartments here by default, since there is currently not a single residential house on the entire Fredry Street. Mixing functions in the city center is important both on a micro (one building) and macro scale. The share of residential development, on the other hand, is a key element of a vibrant and healthy urban fabric.

For buildings located in the city, contact with the environment is very important. That's why the first floor, facing the garden and the street, includes two spacious commercial units that enrich the offer for residents. Contrary to appearances, it is quite scarce at this location. It would be an attractor for both the street and the garden, where tables of gastronomy could stand. In addition, on the side of the semi-open green courtyard, a small premises intended by default for social purposes has found its place, where the residents of this house could perhaps create an intimate neighborhood club. The result is a structure that opens as much as possible in the ground floor to the city, while above it offers implicitly residential premises that adapt to other functions as needed.

visualization of the lobby in the apartments

© HubertPrzybyszewski

Wiktor Bochenek: What stands out in the project are the shapes of the apartments, what is this "centrifugality"?

Hubert Przybyszewski: The apartments were built on the aforementioned viewing axis. A sequence of vestibule, central hall and front room was superimposed on it. The shape of the halls themselves is slightly elongated, so that we are intuitively directed towards the park. By default, I envisioned a dining function in the lobby. From here, we branch out towards further parts of the apartment. Due to the central location of the lobby, the movement paths of the various users intersect here, interaction begins to occur. As a result, it becomes a place for momentary daily gatherings or shared meals of the whole family, where residents come from different parts and feast in the heart of their home. By its close proximity to the entrance, it is also a convenient place to receive guests, whether in a more informal way or more formal. The unconventional arrangement of the rooms in relation to each other results in the formation of interesting perspectives, which are practically always terminated by a window or loggia, which would not actually be possible with a standard layout.

projection including directions towards the windows

© HubertPrzybyszewski

Wiktor Bochenek: What was the most difficult part of the design phase, and what are you most satisfied with?

Hubert Przybyszewski: Although I actually knew at the very beginning of the design what kind of atmosphere I wanted to achieve, so that the object would be a continuation of the existing context, working out the final form was a much more complex process. Contrary to appearances, this small plot of land posed a lot of challenges, with which we had to reconcile both technical-engineeringissues and functional-aestheticones. Over time, the individual problems managed to be solved, which was undoubtedly a joy.

What am I most satisfied with? This is a difficult question...I wanted it to be a timeless house that fits into the Warsaw character, bringing something new to the theme of living together and being together in the city. It seems to me that this has been achieved.

Wiktor Bochenek: Thank you for the interview!

elaborated. Wiktor Bochenek

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