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Stilt house from 1960s. Modernism in Stróża

03 of January '24
Technical data
Name: Stilt house
Investor: private
Location: Poland, Stróża
Designer: Natalia Horak
Photos: Michal Ramus
Area: 70 m2


  • original design
  • modernization


In Stróża—a small village in Malopolska, nestled in a beech grove stands a larch stilt house. Unusual for the area, the structure, built in the 1960s, is an example of modernism architecture. Created by a grandmother-investor with a vision, the cottage had been in the family for years, and now her granddaughter Natalia Horak—an interior designer and set designer—has modernized it, while preserving the original character of the interior and the building. What is the story of the cottage? We invite you to read an interview with the designer.

Modrzewiowy domek na palach to przykład architektury modernizmu Domek na palach

The stilt house is located in Stróża

Photo: Michał Ramus © Natalia Horak

The wooden summer house, located on a hill, towers over the area.

Our Frank Lloyd Wright version of the thinking house levitates on two reinforced concrete legs between tall beech trees, and their surroundings create a soothing, mysterious mood. Nature even invades the interior through the large windows," says Natalia Horak.

Taras „lewituje” na dwóch wielkich stopach Większy remont przeszła współczesna dobudowa, która dostała nowe przeszklenia i dodatkowy kominek

The contemporary extension underwent a bigger renovation, getting new glazing and an additional fireplace

Photo: Michał Ramus © Natalia Horak

Under the large terrace you will find a place for a fireplace and barbecue, and in the cozy interior—a lot of nature, both the one peeking through the large glazing and the one present in the form of wood and stones. Attention is drawn to the hammered brass sheet metal fireplace in the living room, the original slatted lamps and the Hałas dresser. The designer refreshed the interiors and complemented them with period furniture. The house gained only one new element—a glazed bedroom, giving the impression of sleeping in a forest setting.

Domek na palach, rysunek elwacji

Stilt house, 1970s facade drawing

© Natalia Horak archive

interview with Natalia Horak

Dobrawa Bies: Today we look into a 1960s cottage that has undergone extensive modernization, but one that respects its history. Please introduce our readers to the origins of the building? Was the owner your grandmother?

Natalia Horak: Yes, Grandmother Alicia, from a family of women who lost their husbands in the turmoil of war. Hence they had to take over many men's tasks quite quickly. Grandmother Alicia was also a doctor without borders and an honorary citizen of the city of Kraków. In a word, she was a woman with many passions and vision. It was she who hired an architect to design the bungalow, referring to the bold at the time (1960s) and innovative modernism. The very notion that its terrace „thrusts into the landscape,” "levitating" on two large feet, makes it quite unique. The rest of the block is planted in a beech grove among the trees. The cottage was intended to serve friends and relatives, but very soon it was taken over by children—the children of the so-called summer residents of Kraków and the surrounding families formed an inseparable gang.

Część dzienna z kominkiem wykończonym blachą młotkowaną

The living area with a fireplace finished with hammered sheet metal

Photo: Michał Ramus © Natalia Horak

Dobrawa: As you have already emphasized, the summer house is an example of quite unusual architecture, even contemporary. How did you approach the interior design? What did you have to do to „refresh” them?

Natalia Horak: Actually not much, the thorough modernization was more about the heating system, plumbing, the functional layout of the kitchen and a complete change of the bathroom. Everything else has withstood the test of time unscathed and is an authentic fabric from the 1960s. Larch walls, ceilings and floors, a stone masonry fireplace finished with hammered copper sheeting or slatted lamps are originals. The contemporary addition underwent a bigger renovation, getting new glazing and an additional fireplace. It's kind of my dream of a bedroom with a forest view and a fireplace.

Przytulne wnętrze wykończone drewnem Duże przeszklenia zapraszają naturę do wnętrza

Large glazing invites nature inside

Photo: Michał Ramus © Natalia Horak

Dobrawa: Did you encounter any difficulties during your work?

Natalia Horak: Same :) A house on a hill is a guarantee of a view and construction hassles.

Dobrawa: The cottage is intended for rental—how do guests feel about it and who are they mostly?

Natalia Horak: To tell you the truth, they are very different. During the vacations I hosted a family with children (from the States) and grandparents (from Europe), who came for more than three months and created their multi-generational temporary home there. There was also a couple who write children's stories, and they sought respite and inspiration at the lodge. There are quite a few mountain hikers or cyclists looking for a base camp. There are partygoers, of course—I still recall a visit by a church choir on tour, which, celebrating the birthday of one of its choristers, shot confetti. A year later, you can find this confetti here and there.

Przeszklona sypialnia

The glassed-in bedroom is a new part of the cottage

Photo: Michał Ramus © Natalia Horak

Dobrawa: And what is your favorite place in the cottage?

Natalia Horak: The armchair by the fireplace, I don't think I need to explain why :) I also like the walking route up the river valley, which I visit regularly with my dog. I know it quite intimately and like to see how it changes over time, through the seasons.

Dobrawa: Thank you for the interview.

Kuchnia Kominek w sypialni

The kitchen and part of the bedroom

Photo: Michał Ramus © Natalia Horak

interviewed: Dobrawa Bies

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