The phrase ‘As safe as houses’ originally comes from the concept that houses were a shelter from the elements; and later this was developed into the concept that investment in property is more secure compared to other more risky ventures. Most people will agree that the first part of this description holds true no matter what, while the second part has been somewhat debunked due to the recent mortgage market difficulties. While Poland was not hit as hard as the United States and other countries by the mortgage crisis, it is still something being watched, especially as the Swiss Franc fluctuates.
However, in viewing the house as a form of shelter, a Polish architectural firm (called KWK Promes) has designed a property near Warsaw which they call the ‘Safe House’. It was designed for a private client, took over a year to be designed and then a further four to be built, but the finished product has gained some plaudits. Fans of both style and security have been discussing this house online, and achieved critical acclaim also by being nominated for architectural awards such as the 2008 Mies van der Rohe award and 2009 WAF awards. The house is over 550 metres squared on a plot of land over 2500 metres squared, and in colours and themes is quite minimal, with grey walls featuring heavily. However, where this house begins to challenge the mind and perspectives is with the number of sliding doors, windows and walls, which all combine for security and image. When all ‘locked up’ it looks like an impenetrable cube, but when opened it looks more like something that could easily feature on Kevin McCloud’s Grand Designs. It has floor to ceiling windows, with wide ranging views over two stories. However, it is when the house transforms from open to closed, and vice versa, that the most interesting features appear. If required, all doors and windows close, with a shutter dropping down over the front. From the final picture above, there are also escape options with a drawbridge connecting to the annex building nearby from the first floor. This has lead to some commentary on the Internet that this would be the perfect house for surviving a potential zombie apocalypse, or of course to stop any unwanted visitors such as mothers-in-law or Jehovah’s Witnesses – provided you know they are coming of course!
Some who see the house might complain that this is only designed to be a sterile cube, but when you see some of the internal pictures as well, you can see that there are slick design principles applied internally also. There are clean lines, mostly keeping in mind the right angles and directness of the external views. Plenty of light means that there is no worries of being ‘stuck in a box’ either.
Thus, this design is one that can evoke many feelings and thoughts, but whatever your opinion, you have to appreciate the effort which went into the design and build effort in making such a building in Poland.