When architect Adam Pszczolkowski, of Desea Architects, set out to design his own family retreat in the community gardens of the Rakowiec district in Warsaw, Poland, he looked to nature and the aesthetics of a vintage Swedish radio. "It may sound funny, but the design was strongly inspired by an old Tandberg transistor radio," Adam says. "It’s a simple, horizontal box with eye-pleasing proportions and wood laminate sides. The gardens inspired the interior, which is finished with raw plywood that will age naturally."
The 376-square-foot family home is defined by its rectangular form and massive windows that flood the interior with light and make the structure appear as if it’s woven into the lush gardens that surround it.
"The house is built on grounds we rent from the city of Warsaw as part of the family partitions allotment," the architect says. "The site is part of community gardens that have been a tradition in polish cities for over a hundred years. They were designed by urbanists as recreation areas, and city dwellers can rent a small portion of the gardens as an escape."
The gardens are isolated from city streets by a large hedge, and they feature old-growth fruit trees, pines, and lilac bushes. "There’s also a nearby park with hills, ponds, and a few nice pubs and restaurants," Adam says.
Clad in glass framed by plywood and high-pressure laminate panels, the house is largely transparent and features two entrances on the east and west elevations. "This creates flow," the architect says. "The house feels like it’s sunken in greenery."
The open-plan kitchen, living, and dining areas connect to the outdoors, making the home feel more spacious than its 376 square feet. "The house also has a small bedroom with one bed, so there’s an option for someone to stay overnight—it’s usually my father," Adam says.
The architect uses the home on weekends as a respite from work. "My wife Maria and I like to invite our friends and family, especially my parents, over to barbecue," he says. There’s plenty of space outside for our children to play. We can watch them climb a plum tree through the large front window. The house has also been a great place to visit during the pandemic. We’ve spent peaceful time there surrounded by nature without having to leave the city."
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It’s a family home—and Adam built it with the help of family. "We worked mainly in the afternoons and on weekends," the architect says. "My friends and my uncles helped, but the core construction group was me, my brother-in-law Kuba, and my father Jerzy, who probably contributed the most due to his construction skills and experience. Building the house ourselves was the biggest adventure, and it brought great satisfaction. The strongest unions are made while creating."
Adam’s favorite part of the house is the long bench that runs along the front facade. "It’s long enough so the entire family can sit at the same time," he says. "The bench is also sheltered, so it gives you nice cover from rain or sunlight during hot summer days."
Architecture, Design, and Construction: Desea Architects
Photography: Hanna Dlugosz / @hannadlugosz_foto, Alicja Trusiewicz
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